Definition of aphorism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈafərɪz(ə)m/


1A pithy observation which contains a general truth: the old aphorism ‘the child is father to the man’ [mass noun]: the debate begins and ends at the level of aphorism, with commentators saying that something must be done
More example sentences
  • In all these examples an aphorism as a general truth makes a powerful point in its present context, but it could also make good sense in a very different context.
  • A small, lively man with limpid blue eyes and an unruly thatch of thinning white hair, Hill delighted participants in his workshop with his pithy one-liners and folksy aphorisms.
  • As with many quotes there's a good deal of truth in it and, as with many aphorisms, that truth becomes more and more shallow and two-dimensional as it is examined.
1.1A concise statement of a scientific principle, typically by a classical author: the opening sentence of the first aphorism of Hippocrates
More example sentences
  • There is no connection with the Vedas, and virtually no mathematical usefulness in these aphorisms.
  • His eighth chapter - reproduced on this site from the Levy-Cantera translation - contained 120 aphorisms and generalizations on astrology, highly relevant for the art of horary.



Example sentences
  • Among the elite of aphorists are Samuel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, and Gore Vidal.
  • As an aphorist, Cullen is hard to beat and his supple and punning use of text puts the lie to the whole unthinking bad boy concept.
  • In truth, a great many of the aphorists sound as though they sweated too hard to come up with their punchlines.


Pronunciation: /afəˈrɪstɪk/
Example sentences
  • Each in addition is accompanied by a short, aphoristic gloss below.
  • However, interspersed throughout his reminiscences are observations about his present preoccupations, micro-essays on music, art, and literature, as well as aphoristic sentences.
  • Like so many aphoristic cliches, it collapses after a moment's scrutiny.


Pronunciation: /afəˈrɪstɪk(ə)li/
Example sentences
  • ‘In a field like entertainment,’ he says aphoristically, ‘appearance - and a subset of appearance is race - keeps coming up.’
  • He did not write aphoristically, but his writing combined brilliant clarity with some of the properties of aphorism: vivid wit, terse enigmatic utterance, decoding left to the reader.
  • Poetry can suddenly, almost aphoristically, define what the mood of the time is.


(also aphorise) verb
Example sentences
  • He was fond of aphorizing that a good surgeon is one who knows when not to operate.
  • As Hippocrates aphorized the body itself is the healer.
  • Whereupon he smilingly aphorized with a paradox worthy of Wilde, ‘Because novels are true, and histories are false.’


Early 16th century: from French aphorisme or late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos 'definition', from aphorizein 'define'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: aph¦or|ism

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