ad·​age ˈa-dij How to pronounce adage (audio)
: 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."

Examples of adage in a Sentence

that old adage, “the early bird gets the worm”
Recent Examples on the Web Godwin’s Law: an adage of internet culture stating that as any discussion or debate grows longer, there is a proportionate increase in the probability that someone will invoke a comparison to Hitler or the Nazi party. Saman Shafiq, USA TODAY, 6 Sep. 2023 The question is, will the old adage that renting is practically throwing your money away, whereas buying is an investment, hold true for much longer, particularly among high earners with even higher standards? Byalena Botros, Fortune, 5 Sep. 2023 The old adage might apply to the Colts more than ever this season. The Indianapolis Star, 26 Aug. 2023 Fernández has seen that adage play out up close as his dreams of playing professional soccer were promising, playing on the developmental teams of the Tecos of the Liga MX at 15 years old. Eduard Cauich, Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2023 Though the adage about apples and health originated in the 1800s, nutrition is a relatively young science – and the idea of functional foods and bioactive components is even younger. Janet Colson, Discover Magazine, 13 Aug. 2023 Submitted by readers of the Free Press, these Macomb County dive bars are a testament to the adage that some things only get better with time. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 12 Aug. 2023 As the old adage goes, the only thing worse than having a job is not having a job—particularly in a country where basic needs like health care are controlled by for-profit companies. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 15 Aug. 2023 Behind every great fortune is a great crime, according to an adage attributed to Balzac—but, unlike the money, the crimes are not fungible. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 7 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adage.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adage was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near adage

Cite this Entry

“Adage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ad·​age ˈad-ij How to pronounce adage (audio)
: an old familiar saying : proverb

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