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 This adage applies to dieting, exercising, and especially male enhancement supplements. Norcal Marketing Llc, Chron, "5 Best Male Enhancement Pills: Top Sex Enhancer Supplements For Men 2021," 4 Feb. 2021 The adage states anything that can go wrong will go wrong. New York Times, "What We Learned From the N.F.L.’s Divisional Round," 17 Jan. 2021 At this point, as 2020 becomes 2021, perhaps an adage is enough. Washington Post, "Here are some good things about this year," 30 Dec. 2020 His company name underscores the adage of the certified financial planner with Northwestern Mutual and co-founder of 22 One Advisors. Harriet Blake, Dallas News, "New Year’s resolutions? Here’s how to make them stick in 2021," 29 Dec. 2020 Solomon agreed with the adage that nothing good comes from a phone call before 6 a.m. cleveland, "Candemic forecast: Expect breweries to deal with strain on can supply into 2021," 22 Dec. 2020 Applying that adage to this defense, which relies so much on stout linebacker and safety play, would be misguided. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, "Film room: Showing you how IU's secondary was the difference in Rutgers win," 2 Nov. 2020 There is a corollary to Petraeus's adage that is relevant not to war but to peace agreements: The allies get a vote, too. Eli Lake Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "On the Iran deal, Israel gets a vote," 2 Dec. 2020 But remember the old adage: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Scott Gilbertson, Wired, "Our 100+ Favorite Cyber Monday Deals Still Available Today," 1 Dec. 2020

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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Last Updated

15 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Adage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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

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

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