max·​im ˈmak-səm How to pronounce maxim (audio)
: a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct
Mother's favorite maxim was "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
: a proverbial saying
advised her daughter with the maxim "marry in haste, repent at leisure"

Examples of maxim in a Sentence

it's a common maxim that “a watched pot never boils,” but that's not literally true
Recent Examples on the Web Her Paris home appears to conform to Dior’s decorating maxims too. Ellie Pithers, Vogue, 20 Feb. 2024 There was a maxim in cryptography, often referred to as Schneier’s law after the cryptographer Bruce Schneier. Andy Greenberg, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2024 Folks, find your place in our fine American experiment, and kindly refrain from demanding another Hallmark-card maxim as your starting place. Chuck Moebus, WSJ, 18 Dec. 2023 But Charlie never tired of repeating his maxims about business and investing to me, and his logic was irrefutable. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2023 Ralph Waldo Emerson’s maxim that there is properly no history, only biography, encapsulates Russia’s history since 2000. Leon Aron, National Review, 11 Nov. 2023 After all, as the old maxim goes, the best cure for high prices is high prices. Allison Morrow, CNN, 23 Oct. 2023 Before that, Mollica served as the company’s maxim integrated chief financial officer, and as VP of FP&A and treasurer. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 16 Oct. 2023 And nowhere does that maxim ring truer than in the world of fashion where designers relentlessly loop back to styles from decades past for inspiration, breathing new life into old trends to create a kind of bricolage between past and present that results in something totally novel. Emily Kirkpatrick, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English maxime, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin maxima, from Latin, feminine of maximus, superlative of magnus large — more at much

First Known Use

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of maxim was in 1567

Dictionary Entries Near maxim

Cite this Entry

“Maxim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


max·​im ˌmak-səm How to pronounce maxim (audio)
: a general truth or rule of conduct
: a proverbial saying

Biographical Definition

Maxim 1 of 2

biographical name (1)

Max·​im ˈmak-səm How to pronounce Maxim (audio)
Sir Hiram Stevens 1840–1916 British (American-born) inventor


2 of 2

biographical name (2)

Hudson 1853–1927 brother of Hiram Maxim American inventor

More from Merriam-Webster on maxim

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