Anecdote : Definition, Examples and Types

Published on 29-Sep-2022

Using varieties of sentences together can be tricky sometimes. Story writers have to do it all the time because writing can be detailed or vague based on how the sentences are used. One of the common story-telling is the use of Anecdotes.

Anecdote Definition

Anecdote is a clever way to share personal stories using an assertive tone and different types of sentences. It is often a short story based on amusing or exciting experiences of the writer's own life. In modern language, many speechmakers use anecdotes to make their speeches interesting and relatable. One of the famous examples would be found in Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai's speech.   

"I had two options — one was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up." 

In the Nobel acceptance speech, Malala used an anecdote to describe her sense of rebel, survival, and personal struggle. She used compound-complex sentences, one of the common anecdotal features. Her short statement about fear and the will to fight back is intimately shared with the anecdote reference. The anecdote used in Malala's speech is also an example of an Inspirational anecdote.

Now that we know what an anecdote is, we should explore the different types of anecdotes and their uses. 

Anecdote Examples

  • There was one time when I lost my wallet just like you. It had all my important cards and even my engagement ring. So I know exactly how someone feels when they lose something important. 

Explanation: Here, a person narrates a short story about how they once lost their wallet. The anecdote here was to relate to someone "just like you" who also experienced something the same. 

  • My cat also likes that brand of snack. I wonder if it is healthy as he is getting too big. 

Explanation: The use of anecdotes here is in a casual conversation. The person here mentions their cat and preference among people who were most likely talking about pets too. 

  • I remember my first cup of coffee, and it was not good. I think it might've been a strong espresso which I ordered without knowing better.  

Explanation: Here, the person shares a short first experience of them trying coffee. The use of anecdotes here is working to humor or make someone laugh. 

  • I regret leaving my own family in such despair and losing them. I am not going to do the same with you all. You guys are my friends and family too. 

Explanation: The use of anecdotes connects the lines between the narrator's friends and family. The person relates to both as family and does not want to repeat the past similarly. 

  • I love Switzerland! I remember going there for my 20th birthday with my boyfriend and his family. You will love it there too. The weather was always perfect for skiing, and there were so many walking trails. We took a walk every day until it was time to come back. 

Explanation: Here, the narrator shows enthusiasm through her experience of Switzerland. The anecdote here is working to persuade another person who is thinking of going there too.

anecdote example

5 types of anecdotes based on their use and context

1. Cautionary anecdote

This anecdote often involves a story with a lesson in the end. Cautionary anecdotes use short stories with flawed characters to teach morals or warn about punishments for bad actions. It's famous for its use in children's stories. 

Example: Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" is a horrific tale filled with cautionary anecdotes. In Frankenstein's diary, he shared how his unorthodox science experiment led to his misery. The anecdote shares a warning about how doing something you're not supposed to can be dangerous. 

2. Characterizing anecdote

This anecdote describes another character in the writer's personal story. Characterizing anecdotes is vital for their influence on the main character's experience. The result can be positive or negative for the writer. 

Example: In Khaled Hosseini's novel "The Kite Runner," the main character, "Amir" shares his story and describes another character "Hasan" and how he positively influenced his life. The relationship of two friends is shared with the use of anecdotes through the main character in the story. 

3. Humorous anecdote

As the name states, a humorous anecdote consists of a short story that fulfills the purpose of comedy or humor. In humorous anecdotes, personal stories are often funny and amusing. 

Example: I went to the market the other day because I ran out of milk. The store I went to also ran out of all the milk. So I had to go with the store owner to hunt for some milk. 

4. Inspirational anecdote

This anecdote, too, like its name, is used to inspire or persuade the readers. An inspirational anecdote often consists of an emotional and persuasive personal experience. The purpose of an inspirational anecdote is to influence the readers in a positive direction through the limelight of the writer's experience.

Example: In the historical speech of Martin Luther King, "I have a dream," he repeatedly used inspirational anecdotes to persuade people toward a well-governed system without racism. His personal experience with racism in America made people relate with him, sympathize with him, and finally be influenced positively by him.

5. Reminiscent anecdote

Reminiscent anecdote consists of recalling memories and experiences in narrative stories. Writers are often reminiscent of good memories when something good happens in the present. Reminiscing on past struggles often leads to the same struggle continuing in the present. Reminiscent anecdote is used to give readers a picture of the past so the view of the present can become more apparent. 

Example: In Kazuo Ishiguro's book "Never Let Me Go," the story begins with the main character "Kathy" reminiscing about her time in Hailsham with her friends "Ruth" and "Tommy." In the story, Kathy directly interacts with readers and narrates her story using a reminiscent anecdote. 

So there you have it. All the mind-blowing ways about how Linguistics Studies can control the meaning of languages so efficiently and cleverly: every language is governed by the rules set by the Linguistics Field.

These rules can change depending on context and social nature when needed. As the Greek Philosopher Heraclitus mentioned, "Change is the only constant" it means, like everything in this World, our languages and their features will keep changing. But for now, our languages are bound to this set of linguistic features and regulations.




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