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 The Spurs forward’s performance in his grade school play quite literally proved the thespian maxim that there are no small parts. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 13 Oct. 2021 An industry maxim says Americans think dry but drink sweet. Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2021 De gustibus non est disputandum—is there a more famous maxim in all of history? Adam Gopnik, Town & Country, 20 Sep. 2021 To overtly repeat a maxim to the marketplace may seem benign. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 Franklin's maxim here, comparing the Prophet Muhammad to Satan, is but one example of early American Islamophobia. Rafia Zakaria, CNN, 9 Sep. 2021 The company does offer a maxim-happy workplace, though, with inspirational slogans printed on the walls of its atrium in cheery fonts. New York Times, 15 Aug. 2021 The same maxim still applies today: Johnson & Johnson is effective, but less so. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Aug. 2021 So why not give the pod a listen and the maxim a try to boost your summer’s success rate? Pablo Goldstein, Vulture, 1 July 2021

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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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Maxim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for maxim



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

Nglish: Translation of maxim for Spanish Speakers


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