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."

Examples of adage in a Sentence

that old adage, “the early bird gets the worm”
Recent Examples on the Web And ignore the adage: Old dogs can learn new tricks. New York Times, 17 May 2022 But here, the adage about walking before running seems apt. Megha Mandavia, WSJ, 11 May 2022 Standing in a Scottsdale, Arizona, hotel lobby, Steve Sarkisian used a five-word adage to explain how football teams can react to the sweeping changes taking place across college sports. Drew Schott, USA TODAY, 5 May 2022 Standing in a Scottsdale hotel lobby, Steve Sarkisian used a five-word adage to explain how football teams can react to the sweeping changes taking place across college sports. Drew Schott, The Arizona Republic, 4 May 2022 And there's a hope that what happens in Vegas breaks the old adage and makes waves in the GOP primary in mid-June, as Laxalt hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto come November. Rick Klein, ABC News, 28 Apr. 2022 Earlier in the conversation, Washington recalled an old adage that resonated with him in wake of Smith slapping Rock during Sunday's Oscars broadcast, per The Wrap, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety. Abigail Adams,, 2 Apr. 2022 Truth, the old adage insists, is the first casualty of war. David Robert Grimes, Scientific American, 28 Mar. 2022 The Supreme Court has left recusal decisions to the discretion of the justice in question, at odds with the adage that no person should be a judge in his or her own case. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Adage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for adage


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

Kids Definition of adage

: an old familiar saying : proverb

More from Merriam-Webster on adage

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


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