max·​im | \ ˈmak-səm How to pronounce maxim (audio) \

Definition of maxim

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct Mother's favorite maxim was "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
2 : a proverbial saying advised her daughter with the maxim "marry in haste, repent at leisure"


biographical name (1)
Max·​im | \ ˈmak-səm How to pronounce Maxim (audio) \

Definition of Maxim (Entry 2 of 3)

Sir Hiram Stevens 1840–1916 British (American-born) inventor


biographical name (2)

Definition of Maxim (Entry 3 of 3)

Hudson 1853–1927 brother of Hiram Maxim American inventor

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Examples of maxim in a Sentence

Noun it's a common maxim that “a watched pot never boils,” but that's not literally true
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Disney employee Tom Fitzgerald gave us that inspiring maxim. Robert Morast,, "Hourly pricing, virtual concierges: Designers’ fantastic ideas for future theme parks," 23 Aug. 2020 But that maxim only works if every student has the same freedom to pursue the education that best fits their unique needs and goals. Betsy Devos, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Federal tax credits would expand school choice funding," 30 Jan. 2020 That maxim about serving red wine at room temperature is not even true in winter anymore, and definitely not when the mercury is pushing 100 degrees. Washington Post, "What wines to drink with lobster rolls, barbecue and other favorite summer foods," 31 July 2020 Roberts wrote in Vance, quoting an old English legal maxim. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court Brings the Presidency Back From a Lawless Brink," 9 July 2020 Much of the performance depends on voiceover, and Khan was blessed with a honeyed voice that recalls the tired maxim about an actor being able to recite the phone book without sacrificing a viewer’s attention. Mayukh Sen, The Atlantic, "There Was No One Like Irrfan Khan," 30 Apr. 2020 Let’s start at the top, with the maxim dropped by Khalil Mack on Sunday evening after the Bears hammered the Vikings 16-6. Dan Wiederer,, "‘A dog that poops fast don’t poop for long’: Khalil Mack explains his quote — and his eagerness for Sunday’s reunion with the Raiders," 1 Oct. 2019 The street protests now sweeping India appear to be validating one of the oldest and most trusted maxims of politics: sooner or later, authoritarians will go too far. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "Has Narendra Modi Finally Gone Too Far?," 17 Dec. 2019 This maxim neatly accompanies the age-old wisdom about haste, waste and the pointlessness of stressing over being late. John Briley, Washington Post, "My hard-earned lessons about road trips with kids," 17 Oct. 2019

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

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First Known Use of maxim


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for maxim


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

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Time Traveler for maxim

Time Traveler

The first known use of maxim was in 1567

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Statistics for maxim

Last Updated

27 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Maxim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for maxim


How to pronounce Maxim (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of maxim

: a well-known phrase that expresses a general truth about life or a rule about behavior


max·​im | \ ˈmak-səm How to pronounce maxim (audio) \

Kids Definition of maxim

: a short saying (as “live and let live”) expressing a general truth or rule of conduct

More from Merriam-Webster on maxim

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for maxim

Nglish: Translation of maxim for Spanish Speakers

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