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  1. apothegm.
Related formsap·o·phtheg·mat·ic [ap-uh-theg-mat-ik] /ˌæp ə θɛgˈmæt ɪk/, ap·o·phtheg·mat·i·cal, adjective


or ap·o·phthegm

  1. a short, pithy, instructive saying; a terse remark or aphorism.

Origin of apothegm

1545–55; earlier apothegma < Greek apóphthegma, equivalent to apophtheg- (variant stem of apophthéngesthai to speak out; apo- apo- + phthéngesthai to speak) + -ma noun suffix
Related formsap·o·theg·mat·ic [ap-uh-theg-mat-ik] /ˌæp ə θɛgˈmæt ɪk/, ap·o·theg·mat·i·cal, adjectiveap·o·theg·mat·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedadage aphorism apothegm axiom maxim proverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for apophthegm

Historical Examples

  • As some say, Solon was the author of the apophthegm, "Nothing in excess."

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

  • This apophthegm is one of the landmarks of religious history.

  • He has inspired me with an apophthegm, however—let us give Bonvoisin his due!

    To Tell You the Truth

    Leonard Merrick

  • Madame de Staël repeats this apophthegm in her work on Germany.

  • He re-read the apophthegm with a slower and more solemn utterance.

    Crome Yellow

    Aldous Huxley

British Dictionary definitions for apophthegm



  1. a short cryptic remark containing some general or generally accepted truth; maxim
Derived Formsapophthegmatic or apothegmatic (ˌæpəθɛɡˈmætɪk), adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Greek apophthegma, from apophthengesthai to speak one's opinion frankly, from phthengesthai to speak


  1. a variant spelling of apophthegm
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

Word Origin and History for apophthegm


see apothegm.



"pithy saying," 1550s, from Greek apophthegma "terse, pointed saying," literally "something clearly spoken," from apophthengesthai "to speak one's opinion plainly," from apo- "from" (see apo-) + phthengesthai "to utter." See aphorism for nuances of usage. Spelling apophthegm, restored by Johnson, is preferred in England, according to OED.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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