1. Also doc·u·men·tal [dok-yuhmen-tl] /ˌdɒk yəˈmɛn tl/. pertaining to, consisting of, or derived from documents: a documentary history of France.
  2. Movies, Television. based on or re-creating an actual event, era, life story, etc., that purports to be factually accurate and contains no fictional elements: a documentary life of Gandhi.

noun, plural doc·u·men·ta·ries.

  1. Movies, Television. a documentary film, radio or television program, etc.


  1. Also: documental consisting of, derived from, or relating to documents
  2. presenting factual material with little or no fictional additionsthe book gives a documentary account of the war

noun plural -ries

  1. a factual film or television programme about an event, person, etc, presenting the facts with little or no fiction

c.1810, “pertaining to documents,” from document + -ary. Meaning “factual, meant to provide a record of something” is from 1926, from French film documentarie (1924). The noun (short for documentary film) is attested from 1935. Docudrama is a 1961 coinage.

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