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

That aphorism by NYU professor Clay Shirky overstates the case, but only a little.
Why My Next E-Book Will Be About Iraq David Frum May 18, 2012

The secret of literary prophecy lies deep inside that aphorism.
The Kaffeehaus Canon George Prochnik December 30, 2010

He utters the aphorism in immaculate French, and judging from an overheard phone call, his Italian is almost as good.
NY Museum Stages First ‘Scent’ Exhibit Blake Gopnik November 1, 2012

He left the crowd with a Greek aphorism—“to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
Love Versus the ‘Liberal Gulag’ James Poulos April 7, 2014

Then as now, an aphorism from Felix Rohatyn would seem to apply.
Could Detroit Trigger a New Global Meltdown? Steven R. Weisman November 29, 2008

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

When you have thoroughly digested this aphorism, you are fit to start in the world.
Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever

The expectant method may be said to be founded upon the aphorism of Mead that “gout is the cure of gout.”
A System of Practical Medicine By American Authors, Vol. II Various

His aphorism was, “Gentlemen, the secret of surgery is the nailbrush.”
A Labrador Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

This aphorism would, it may seem, have been placed more fitly in the Chapter following.
Aids to Reflection Samuel Taylor Coleridge

a short pithy saying expressing a general truth; maxim

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.
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.”


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    a person who makes or uses . Historical Examples The aphorist read himself so well, that to juggle with himself was a necessity. The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, Complete George Meredith Assisted by the faithful female Berry, she was conquering an aphorist. The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, Complete George Meredith

  • Aphoristic

    of, like, or containing : His sermons were richly aphoristic. given to making or quoting . Contemporary Examples His comments are aphoristic or oracular, but often infused with wit. Stephen Hawking 70th-Birthday Salute Martin Rees January 7, 2012 Perhaps her genius is best appreciated in her sly, aphoristic brevity. Nora Ephron’s Best Quotes Jimmy So […]

  • Aphoristically

    of, like, or containing : His sermons were richly aphoristic. given to making or quoting . Historical Examples On the other, the aphoristically formulated doctrine pullulates with inconsistencies imported from theology. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific Frederick Engels adjective of, relating to, or resembling an aphorism tending to write or speak in aphorisms adj. 1753, from […]

  • Aphotic

    lightless; dark. adjective characterized by or growing in the absence of light: an aphotic plant of or relating to the zone of an ocean below that to which sunlight can penetrate, usually about 90m (300 ft). This is the lowest level at which photosynthesis can take place adj. “untouched by sunlight, lightless” (in reference to […]

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