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Terse formulation of any generally accepted truth or sentiment conveyed in a pithy, memorable statement. The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, a long series of propositions concerning disease and the art of healing. Aphorisms were used especially in dealing with subjects for which principles and methodology developed relatively late, including art, agriculture, medicine, jurisprudence, and politics, but in the modern era they have usually been vehicles of wit and pithy wisdom. Celebrated modern aphorists include Friedrich Nietzsche and Oscar Wilde.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on aphorism, visit Britannica.com.