Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[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).
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. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for aphorism
  • As for the ballerina herself, she gives us aphorism after aphorism in her solos.
  • Some of the best have the snap of a good aphorism.
  • Downloading the free app will give users one aphorism per day.
  • But as the old aphorism goes, slow and data-rich wins the race.
  • After all, as the aphorism goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
  • This is an aphorism all of us should ponder.
  • Contrary to the popular pirate aphorism, the dead do tell tales.
  • Adhere to the "assertive not aggressive" aphorism.
  • The old aphorism about 'some of the people, some of the time' comes to mind.
  • It is an old Anglo aphorism that all political lives end in tragedy.
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for aphorism

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for aphorism

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with aphorism

Nearby words for aphorism