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90s Slang You Should Know


[af-uh-riz-uh m] /ˈæf əˌrɪz əm/
a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).
Origin of aphorism
1520-30; French aphorisme < Late Latin aphorismus < Greek aphorismós definition, equivalent to aphor(ízein) to define (see aphorize) + -ismos -ism
Related forms
aphorismic, aphorismatic
[af-uh-riz-mat-ik] /ˌæf ə rɪzˈmæt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
Can be confused
adage, aphorism, apothegm, axiom, maxim, proverb. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for aphorism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He now reverted to the form of the aphorism, and resolved to throw the materials of the Cogitata et Visa into this shape.

    Bacon Richard William Church
  • But if there be any truth in the aphorism, we must define our terms.

    Appearances Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
  • The expectant method may be said to be founded upon the aphorism of Mead that "gout is the cure of gout."

  • "Whatever good is from God, whatever ill from thyself," is a Koranic aphorism.

    Pan-Islam George Wyman Bury
  • This aphorism would, it may seem, have been placed more fitly in the Chapter following.

    Aids to Reflection Samuel Taylor Coleridge
British Dictionary definitions for aphorism


a short pithy saying expressing a general truth; maxim
Derived Forms
aphorist, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos definition, from aphorizein to define, set limits to, from horos boundary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for aphorism

1520s (especially in reference to the "Aphorisms of Hippocrates"), from Middle French aphorisme (14c., aufforisme), from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos "definition, pithy sentence," from aphorizein "to mark off, divide," from apo- "from" (see apo-) + horizein "to bound" (see horizon).

An aphorism is a short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import; an axiom is a statement of self-evident truth; a theorem is a demonstrable proposition in science or mathematics; an epigram is like an aphorism, but lacking in general import. Maxim and saying can be used as synonyms for aphorism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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aphorism in Culture
aphorism [(af-uh-riz-uhm)]

A concise and often witty statement of wisdom or opinion, such as “Children should be seen and not heard,” or “People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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