Definition of aphorism
1 : a concise statement of a principle
3 : an ingeniously terse style of expression : aphoristic language These are dazzling chapters, packed with perfectly chosen anecdotes and pithy with aphorism. — John Keegan
aphoristplay \-rist\ noun
aphoristicplay \ˌa-fə-ˈris-tik\ adjective
aphoristicallyplay \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
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Examples of aphorism in a Sentence
Confronted by a broadminded, witty, and tolerant cosmopolitan, for whom the infinite varieties of human custom offered a source of inexhaustible fascination, Thucydides presented himself as a humorless nationalist, an intellectual given to political aphorisms and abstract generalizations. —Peter Green, New York Review of Books, 15 May 2008
It doesn't take long to learn that a lie always unravels and that it always ends up making you feel royally cruddy. “Do the kind of work during the day that allows you to sleep at night” was an aphorism my grandfather was fond of. —Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Newsweek, 6 Mar. 2006
The Sun twice went into journalism legend. Its city editor John Bogart is generally credited with the aphorism “When a dog bites a man, that's not news. But when a man bites a dog, that's news.” And the paper delivered America's most treasured editorial in 1897, when a young girl, whose playmates had told her there was no Santa Claus, wrote and asked the Sun to tell her the truth. —Peter Andrews, American Heritage, October 1994
Truman is remembered as much today for his aphorisms as his policies: “The buck stops here,” “If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen,” and the like. Such slogans are endearing in a time of plastic politicians who make a career of ducking responsibilities … —Ronald Steel, New Republic, 10 Aug. 1992
When decorating, remember the familiar aphorism, “less is more.”
what does the aphorism “Hindsight is 20/20” mean?
Recent Examples of aphorism from the Web
There are endless aphorisms about love and dating that get branded into our brains from a very young age.
On one hand, of course, there's the old aphorism that there really is no cloud—
Ismay formulated that aphorism at the height of a new Cold War.
This was a pleasing aphorism, but the factory is hardly the exemplary workspace of the future; despite Dmitri’s stated desire to look forward, his dream has a distinctly Soviet tinge.
Misinformation bounced around the service with such speed that Mark Twain's aphorism about lies and speedy international travel began to seem quaint.
Not much, although there’s not an NFL agent who would disagree with the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats aphorism.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) really is a driver — more specifically, a getaway driver, in the service/fealty/employ of an aphorism-spouting criminal mastermind played by Kevin Spacey.
This isn’t the exact sequence in which the aphorisms flowed.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aphorism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Aphorism was originally used in the world of medicine. Credit Hippocrates, the Greek physician regarded as the father of modern medicine, with influencing our use of the word. He used aphorismos (a Greek ancestor of aphorism meaning "definition" or "aphorism") in titling a book outlining his principles on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. That volume offered many examples that helped to define aphorism, beginning with the statement that starts the book's introduction: "Life is short, Art long, Occasion sudden and dangerous, Experience deceitful, and Judgment difficult." English speakers originally used the term mainly in the realm of the physical sciences, but eventually broadened its use to cover principles in other fields.
APHORISM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of aphorism for English Language Learners
: a short phrase that expresses a true or wise idea
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