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aphorism - vocabulary

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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aphorism - noun

A terse saying that embodies a general truth, as in (with apologies to Lord Acton) Power corrupts and Power Point corrupts absolutely.

Note: In The World in a Phrase, his 2005 history of the form, James Geary laid down his "Five Laws of the Aphorism: It Must Be Brief, It Must Be Personal, It Must Be Definitive, It Must Be Philosophical, and It Must Have A Twist."

Need some examples? Here are three, honestly chosen at random, from Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists:

"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before." —Mae West

"To live is to lose ground." —E. M. Cioran

“The only things one never regrets are one's mistakes." —Oscar Wilde —Michael Dirda Washington Post, October 21, 2007

Note: You may download the Grammar eBook Build Your Vocabulary and get all 406 vocabulary words.


Next Word: apposite Previous Word: anecdote, antidote


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