Aphorisms, also known as ‘wisdom literature’, have been part of society since ancient times. Many of such phrases are used even today very commonly by all of us. Still, not many will know what exactly an aphorism is. Here, we’ll look at the actual aphorism meaning, with a whole lot of examples for a better understanding of the concept.
Aphorism = ‘Definition’ or ‘Distinction’
An aphorism can be used in numerous ways, be it day-to-day conversations, in songs, movies, or even when trying to be sarcastic. An aphorism is basically a short statement related to a principle. It contains an important truth of life. In simple words, an aphorism is a wise observation that is put across in a clever way.
The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms defines an aphorism as ‘A statement of some general principle, expressed memorably by condensing much wisdom into a few words’. The aim is to point towards a precept, while at the same time being as concise and/or funny as possible.
Here are some of the best aphorism examples, which after reading, the concept will be understood much more clearly.
Commonly Used Aphorisms
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
You have to take the bitter with the sweet.
A jack of all trades is a master of none.
A man is known by the company he keeps.
Winners never quit and quitters never win.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
A nod is as good as a wink to a blind man.
Nothing succeeds like success.
―Christian D. Larson
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Barking dogs seldom bite.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
A stitch in time saves nine.
You’re never too old to learn.
Once bitten, twice shy.
Aphorisms By Famous People
Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.
In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments―there are consequences.
―Robert G. Ingersoll
We ought never to do wrong when people are looking.
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.
Knowledge is finite but ignorance knows no bounds.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
When a man has once loved a woman he will do anything for her except continue to love her.
The unexamined life is not worth living.
Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.
Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
Sex and religion are closer to each other than either might prefer.
―St. Thomas Moore
Don’t be so humble – you are not that great.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.
Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice Doggie’ until you can find a rock.
My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right.
Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.
How much money is enough? Just a little more than you have.
―John D. Rockefeller
No matter how much you push the envelope, it will still be stationery.
If I don’t understand, don’t tell me what I don’t understand, tell me why.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
If you haven’t made a mistake, you haven’t made anything.
Promises are lies with pretty ribbon tied around them.
Aphorism Examples in Literature
Act well your part; there all the honor lies.
He does not possess Wealth, it possesses him.
Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
If? There is no if. There is only what is. What was? What will be. The Writing on My Forehead.
―Nafisa Haji – The Writing On My Forehead
Aphorism Examples in Songs
Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young.
―Die Young – Ke$ha
You’ll always be inside of me, like a flower you grow.
―Like A Flower – Madonna
You are like a dream come true.
I think you’re hot I think you’re cool. You’re the kinda guy I’d stalk in school.
―Cannibal – Ke$ha
Aphorisms in Movies
It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.
―Dumbledore – Harry Potter
‘Deserves’ got nuthin’ to do with it.
―Billy Muny – Unforgiven
The bottom is loaded with nice guys. Only cream and bastards rise.
―Paul Newman – Harper
Life’s a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!
―Mame Dennis – Auntie Mame
After reading all these, you’ll know exactly how to use an aphorism in a sentence. Also important is when to use one. Obviously, there are millions of other aphorisms really worth mentioning. If you have any of your personal favorites, feel free to share them with everyone here, in the comments section below.