aphorism

[ af-uh-riz-uh m ]
/ ˈæf əˌrɪz əm /

noun

a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).

Nearby words

  1. aphides,
  2. aphidian,
  3. aphis,
  4. aphonia,
  5. aphonic,
  6. aphorist,
  7. aphoristic,
  8. aphorize,
  9. aphotic,
  10. aphra

Origin of aphorism

1520–30; French aphorisme < Late Latin aphorismus < Greek aphorismós definition, equivalent to aphor(ízein) to define (see aphorize) + -ismos -ism

Related formsaph·o·ris·mic, aph·o·ris·mat·ic [af-uh-riz-mat-ik] /ˌæf ə rɪzˈmæt ɪk/, adjective

Can be confusedadage aphorism apothegm axiom maxim proverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for aphorism


British Dictionary definitions for aphorism

aphorism

/ (ˈæfəˌrɪzəm) /

noun

a short pithy saying expressing a general truth; maxim
Derived Formsaphorist, noun

Word Origin for aphorism

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

Word Origin and History for aphorism

aphorism

n.

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

Culture definitions for aphorism

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.