ad·​age | \ ˈa-dij How to pronounce adage (audio) \

Definition of adage

: a saying often in metaphorical form that typically embodies a common observation She reminded him of the adage: "A penny saved is a penny earned."

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Examples of adage in a Sentence

that old adage, “the early bird gets the worm”

Recent Examples on the Web

On average, all cars depreciate 38.2 percent over three years, proving the adage of die-hard used car buyers who always let the original owners take the initial decline in value. Ron Hurtibise,, "Top 10 bargains on late model used cars in South Florida | PHOTOS," 15 June 2019 Following the adage of ‘all work and no play,’ the girls decide to catch up on their missed party exploits and cram them into one final day before graduation. Guy Hanford, Ramona Sentinel, "Flickers: ‘Shaft,’ ‘Men in Black International,’ ‘Dead Don’t Die’ open Friday," 13 June 2019 As the adage goes, the kitchen is the heart of my home. Jennifer Blaise Kramer, House Beautiful, "This Incredible Nantucket Home Is Filled With History," 23 May 2019 As Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney could doubtless attest, navigating the British property market is an experience that reveals the truth in the adage that the U.K. and U.S. are two nations divided by their common language. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "The Lingo of British Real Estate," 28 Feb. 2019 Or at least that was the first adage that came to mind upon a quick scroll through Instagram yesterday, which found the icon sharing a throwback capture of herself in the buff, the snap accompanied by a timeless message of empowerment. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Madonna’s Nude Throwback Instagram Proves She Is the Original Sex Positive Girl," 20 Dec. 2018 Yet in Bolivia, the argument that a leader like Mr. Morales needs to be allowed to run again is being countered by an adage: That power corrupts those who hold it. Nicholas Casey, New York Times, "Bolivia Tells President His Time Is Up. He Isn’t Listening.," 28 Jan. 2018 That timeworn adage is fitting for what Dulaney’s girls lacrosse team is doing as the regular season winds down and the postseason is looming. Nelson Coffin,, "Dulaney girls lacrosse stays hot with win over Loch Raven as postseason approaches," 2 May 2018 But there’s a lot of history supporting the adage that generals forever prepare to fight the last war. Douglas J. Feith And, WSJ, "The U.S. Military’s Crisis of Imagination," 19 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of adage

1530, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for adage

borrowed from Middle French, borrowed from Latin adagiō, adagium, from ad- ad- + ag-, base of aiō, āiō "(I) say" (going back to *ag-i̯ō, going back to an Indo-European verb stem *h2eǵ-i̯e- "say") + -ium, deverbal noun suffix; akin to Greek ê "(s/he) spoke," án-ōga "(I) command," Armenian asem "(I) say," Tocharian B āks- "announce, proclaim"

Note: The Latin form is possibly adāgiō; the lack of vowel reduction in the second syllable is otherwise unexplained. Michiel de Vaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin (Brill, 2008), believes that the base is not aiō, but rather adigō, "I drive/thrust/plunge into, force, impel." Semantically, this is not compelling, and does not in any case solve the problem of the second syllable. On the other hand, the lack of attestation for aiō with any prefixes aside from this noun is striking.

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Dictionary Entries near adage

ad absurdum




ad agency



Statistics for adage

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for adage

The first known use of adage was in 1530

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More Definitions for adage



English Language Learners Definition of adage

: an old and well-known saying that expresses a general truth


ad·​age | \ ˈa-dij How to pronounce adage (audio) \

Kids Definition of adage

: an old familiar saying : proverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on adage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for adage

Spanish Central: Translation of adage

Nglish: Translation of adage for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about adage

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showing courage and determination

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