ax·​i·​om | \ ˈak-sē-əm How to pronounce axiom (audio) \

Definition of axiom

1 : a statement accepted as true as the basis for argument or inference : postulate sense 1 one of the axioms of the theory of evolution
2 : an established rule or principle or a self-evident truth cites the axiom "no one gives what he does not have"
3 : a maxim widely accepted on its intrinsic merit the axioms of wisdom

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In mathematics or logic, an axiom is an unprovable rule or first principle accepted as true because it is self-evident or particularly useful. “Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect” is an example of an axiom. The term is often used interchangeably with postulate, though the latter term is sometimes reserved for mathematical applications (such as the postulates of Euclidean geometry). It should be contrasted with a theorem, which requires a rigorous proof.

Examples of axiom in a Sentence

one of the key axioms of the theory of evolution
Recent Examples on the Web Less is More or, to observe the axiom still further, Be concise. Jerry Weissman, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 The critical response from both sides of the debate recalled the old axiom that a compromise is sure to make everyone unhappy. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 28 June 2022 The most important axiom of California politics is that powerful interest groups like the status quo and will fight like crazy to maintain it. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 An axiom of the insurance industry is the investment of premium reserves to generate investment income. Van Carlson, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 There are variations in voter interest across the state, proving that old axiom that all politics is local. John Byrne, Chicago Tribune, 20 June 2022 Our other central axiom in this situation was: Show, don’t tell. Ari Rabin-havt, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2022 An axiom that sums up the state’s wealth disparity: Vermonters either have three homes or three jobs. Hanna Krueger,, 1 Apr. 2022 There’s a musty axiom put forward in writing classes that forging this type of connection with a reader shouldn’t be the priority, that writers should instead aim to create art that transcends personal concerns. Adam Dalva, The Atlantic, 5 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of axiom

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for axiom

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French axiome, borrowed from Latin axiōma "fundamental proposition," borrowed from Greek axíōma "honor, honored status, prestige, that which is reasonable (though not demonstrated to be true), self-evident principle," from axiō-, variant stem of axióō, axioûn "to consider worthy, value, consider appropriate, claim, think" (verbal derivative of áxios "valued [at a sum of money], worth, equal, of an equivalent status, worthy, suitable," of uncertain origin) + -ma, resultative noun suffix

Note: The Greek adjective áxios has conventionally been taken as originally meaning "of equal weight, counterbalancing"—hence it is seen as a derivative of an unattested noun *axis "weight" (< *ag-ti-), a derivative of ágein "to lead, carry off," also, among many other senses, "to weigh (a certain amount)," though the latter meaning is no earlier than fifth-century Attic.

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The first known use of axiom was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Axiom.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for axiom


ax·​i·​om | \ ˈak-sē-əm How to pronounce axiom (audio) \

Kids Definition of axiom

1 : maxim
2 : a statement thought to be clearly true


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