ad·​age ˈa-dij How to pronounce adage (audio)
: 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 As the adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Richard Espinoza, Kansas City Star, 21 Feb. 2024 Kotb then brought up a classic style adage believed to be said by Coco Chanel. Michelle Lee, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 As the adage goes, boys come and go, but a true friend lasts forever. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 5 Feb. 2024 The Old Farmer’s Almanac has aggregated a couple dozen adages about insects, animals and their ability to predict weather patterns. Jackie Wattles, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 If as the adage suggests every word in Irish is in fact a bullet to the heart of the oppressor, then the Kneecap lads are spitting an explosive verbal barrage. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 26 Jan. 2024 Paris Hilton on Her First Met Gala As the old adage (a.k.a. Audrey Noble, Vogue, 16 Jan. 2024 The urgency of the pandemic led many companies to test that adage out. Lila MacLellan, Fortune, 19 Dec. 2023 The adage there is that Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks Presidents. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


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.

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adage was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near adage

Cite this Entry

“Adage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


ad·​age ˈad-ij How to pronounce adage (audio)
: an old familiar saying : proverb

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