late 14c., neuter plural of Late Latin apocryphus "secret, not approved for public reading," from Greek apokryphos "hidden; obscure," thus "(books) of unknown authorship" (especially those included in the Septuagint and Vulgate but not originally written in Hebrew and not counted as genuine by the Jews), from apo- "away" (see apo-) + kryptein "to hide" (see crypt). Properly plural (the single would be Apocryphon or apocryphum), but commonly treated as a collective singular.
Religious writings that have been accepted as books of the Bible by some groups but not by others. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, includes seven books, such as Judith, I and II Maccabees, and Ecclesiasticus, in the Old Testament that Jews and Protestants do not consider part of the Bible. Some churches may read the Apocrypha for inspiration but not to establish religious doctrine.
Note: By extension, an “apocryphal” story is one that is probably false but nevertheless has some value.
hidden, spurious, the name given to certain ancient books which found a place in the LXX. and Latin Vulgate versions of the Old Testament, and were appended to all the great translations made from them in the sixteenth century, but which have no claim to be regarded as in any sense parts of the inspired Word. (1.) They are not once quoted by the New Testament writers, who frequently quote from the LXX. Our Lord and his apostles confirmed by their authority the ordinary Jewish canon, which was the same in all respects as we now have it. (2.) These books were written not in Hebrew but in Greek, and during the "period of silence," from the time of Malachi, after which oracles and direct revelations from God ceased till the Christian era. (3.) The contents of the books themselves show that they were no part of Scripture. The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of fourteen books, the chief of which are the Books of the Maccabees (q.v.), the Books of Esdras, the Book of Wisdom, the Book of Baruch, the Book of Esther, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, etc. The New Testament Apocrypha consists of a very extensive literature, which bears distinct evidences of its non-apostolic origin, and is utterly unworthy of regard.