A documentary is a film or video examining an event or person based on facts. The word can also refer to anything involving documents.

The idea of documentary as meaning "pertaining to documents" came about at the beginning of the 19th century. Later, it came to mean a factual record of something. On PBS, you'll see lots of documentaries, about everything from baseball to war. Those documentaries are nonfiction films — they're showing true life. However, lots of fictional shows are filmed in a realistic documentary style. If you make a documentary about the U.S. Library of Congress, you'll be documenting lots of historical documents.

Definitions of documentary

n a film or TV program presenting the facts about a person or event

docudrama, documentary film, infotainment
Type of:
film, flick, motion picture, motion-picture show, movie, moving picture, moving-picture show, pic, picture, picture show
a form of entertainment that enacts a story by sound and a sequence of images giving the illusion of continuous movement

adj relating to or consisting of or derived from documents


adj emphasizing or expressing things as perceived without distortion of personal feelings, insertion of fictional matter, or interpretation

existent, real
being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verified existence; not illusory

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