aphorism define

Aphorism define: Examples of Aphorism

Aphorism is a short, concise statement of a general truth or principle. It may be in the form of a maxim, adage, proverb, saying, axiom, epigram, and so on. They are often quoted as if they were proven facts; however, this is not always the case.

Aphorisms are often used to express wisdom in a few words. They tend to be statements that can take at face value without much explanation. An aphorism does not need to be explained because it is self-contained and explanatory within itself.


  1. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” —Alexander Pope
  2. Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” —Pablo Picasso
  3. There’s nothing wrong with being good at something that other people find boring.” —Jeanette Winterson
  4. Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” — David Hume
  5. The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” — Albert Einstein
  6. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain
  7. Time is money.” (Benjamin Franklin)
  8. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” (proverb)
  9. What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” (proverb)
  10. Don’t judge a book by its cover.” (proverb)

Example for Aphorism

  1. Actions speak louder than words.
  2. All that glitters is not gold.
  3. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  4. Barking dogs seldom bite.
  5. Better safe than sorry.”
  6. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  7. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
  8. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
  9. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a lot of ignorance is just as bad.
  10. A man’s worst enemies are often those of his household (a woman’s too).
  11. A penny saved is earned (but beware of inflation!).
  12. Actions speak louder than words (but words can hurt more than actions).
  13. Better late than never (but not by much).
  14. Birds of a feather flock together (and they’re probably boring).
  15. Curiosity killed the cat (and satisfaction brought it back).

Aphorism Examples in English Literature

The following is a selection of aphorisms from some of English literature’s most well-known dramas and poems.

As You Like it by William Shakespeare

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. 

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

To be or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them?

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.

(Antigone by Sophocles)

I think a man should have friends who are not his relatives if he can choose them, for what can be more unpleasant than having to do with those who are bound by ties of blood? Friendship is something holy in itself, and we must respect it just as if it were religion; otherwise, we shall only be making mock of it by pretending that we have such things as friends without being willing to give up anything for their sake. 

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

That’s what art is all about. A little magic to make you wonder, a little madness to make you wise. 

William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice)

All that glitters is not gold.

Thomas Fuller (The Holy State and the Profane State)

Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.

John Dryden (Annus Mirabilis)

All human things are subject to decay.

The Mourning Bride by William Congreve

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Othello by William Shakespeare

There are many things in life more important than money.

Discourses on Livy by Nicolas Machiavelli

I see as clear as daylight that virtue is nothing else but choice, and that no one wishes to be virtuous without also wishing to be happy.

Love Is Like A Butterfly by Cyndi Lauper

Love is like a butterfly: it goes where it pleases and has a flavor different from yours.

Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde,

I am not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.

Songs of Innocence by William Blake’s

The fox condemns the trap which caught the hen.

In this case, Blake uses his knowledge of animal behavior to suggest that people shouldn’t be too quick to judge others’ actions based on appearances alone — they might be right but still wrong at the same time!

The Most Famous Man In The World by Edgar J. Mohn,

A lie has speed, but truth has endurance.

Out of My Later Years by Albert Einstein

Life is like riding a bicycle; to keep your balance, you must keep moving.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the wrought heart and bids it breaks.” 

The Lady with the Dog by Anton Chekhov

there is a moment when the narrator describes himself as “a man who had wasted his life on trifles.

In this case, Chekhov uses an aphorism to describe himself as someone who has wasted his life on unimportant things such as small talk and gossiping with friends rather than focusing on what matters most: relationships with

William Hazlitt (British essayist)

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

That which is done out of Love always takes place beyond good and evil

More to read:

AlliterationClimaxInterjection100 Examples of Simile

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