So what is an aphorism? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an aphorism as ‘a short phrase that expresses a true or wise idea.’ According to Wikipedia, ‘an aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic (concise) and memorable form. Aphorism literally means a “distinction” or “definition”. The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. The oft-cited first sentence of this work is:
Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult.
The term was later applied to maxims of physical science, then statements of all kinds of philosophical, moral, or literary principles. In modern usage an aphorism is generally understood to be a concise statement containing a subjective truth or observation cleverly and pithily written.’
Here are some great examples of aphorisms:
* The nicest thing about the future is . . . that it always starts tomorrow.
* Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old age regret.
* If you don’t have a sense of humour, you probably don’t have any sense at all.
* The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
* Life’s Tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.
* A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you’re in deep water.
* How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
* Business conventions are important…because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.
* Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
* No one has more driving ambition than the teenage boy who wants to buy a car.
* There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
* There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 a.m. – like, it could be the right number.
* No one ever says “It’s only a game” when their team is winning.
* Be careful about reading the fine print. . . there’s no way you’re going to like it.
* Money can’t buy happiness — but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Cadillac than in a Yugo.
* Always be yourself because the people that matter don’t mind . . . . and the ones that mind don’t matter.
* Politicians and diapers should be changed often…and for the same reason.
A related word to the aphorism is the epigram. However, while an aphorism is statement that expresses a general truth or a moral principle, an epigram is a short witty saying or poem.
* What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole;
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
* The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
– Oscar Wilde.