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Aphorism Examples

An aphorism is a brief sentence or phrase that expresses an opinion or makes a statement of wisdom. Spoken or written, aphorism literally means “definition” and the term was first coined by Hippocrates in his work entitled Aphorisms.

Examples of Aphorisms

  • A bad penny always turns up.
  • A barking dog never bites.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • All for one and one for all.
  • All that glitters is not gold.
  • All the world’s a stage.
  • All things come to he who waits.
  • All we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Children should be seen and not heard.
  • Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.
  • Don’t foul your own nest.
  • Don’t give up the ship.
  • Don’t hide your light under a bushel.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.
  • Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • Easier said than done.
  • East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.
  • East or West, home is best.
  • Easy come, easy go.
  • Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
  • Forgive and forget.
  • Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
  • Frailty, thy name is woman!
  • From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.
  • Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
  • Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
  • Give a man a fish and he eats for one night. Teach him how and he eats for life.
  • Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.
  • Give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself.
  • He that is not with me is against me.
  • He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
  • He who hesitates is lost.
  • Here today, gone tomorrow.
  • History repeats itself.
  • If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always got.
  • If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
  • If you snooze, you lose.
  • Ignorance is bliss.
  • Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • Keep your head above water.
  • Keep your nose to the grindstone.
  • Keep your powder dry.
  • Know thyself.
  • Know which side your bread is buttered on.
  • Knowledge is power.
  • Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.
  • Life is short, art is long.
  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
  • Little pitchers have big ears.
  • Little strokes fell great oaks.
  • Live and learn.
  • Nothing succeeds like success.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Oil and water don’t mix.
  • Old habits die hard.
  • Once bitten, twice shy.
  • Opportunity never knocks twice.
  • Opposites attract.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
  • Politics makes strange bedfellows.
  • Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • The pen is mightier than sword.
  • The quality of mercy is not strained.
  • The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
  • The race isn’t always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.
  • While there’s life, there’s hope.
  • Who pays the piper calls the tune.
  • Winners never quit and quitters never win.
  • You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  • You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
  • You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
  • You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.
  • You can’t fight city hall.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • You have to take the bitter with the sweet.
  • You have to take the good with the bad.
  • You made your bed, now lie in it.
  • You need to stop to smell the roses.
  • You need to take a bull by the horns, and a man by his word.
  • You’re never too old to learn.

These examples show how an aphorism can be used to express an opinion in a fun way or to give a piece of wisdom in a way that will be meaningful.


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