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Examples of Adage in Literature

An adage is a saying that becomes widely accepted as truth over time. Adages are usually observances of life and behavior that express a general truth.

Adages from Poor Richard’s Almanack

Poor Richard’s Almanack was published yearly from 1732 to 1758 by Benjamin Franklin. It contained many adages that are commonly used today.
Here are some examples:

  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  • Eat to live, and not live to eat.
  • Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • Fish and visitors stink after three days.
  • God helps them that help themselves.
  • Little strokes fell great oaks.
  • To err is human, to repent divine; to persist devilish.
  • Well done is better than well said.

Adages in Literature

  • “The cart before the horse” – Adagia by Erasmus
  • “Things are not always what they seem.” – Aesop’s Fables: Bee-Keeper and the Bees
  • “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump
  • “God helps those who help themselves” – Adagia by Erasmus
  • “Appearances often are deceiving.” – Aesop’s Fables: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  • “Call a spade a spade” – Adagia by Erasmus
  • “Familiarity breeds contempt.” – Aesop’s Fables: The Fox and the Lion
  • “Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest Gump
  • “Put the cart before the horse” – Adagia by Erasmus
  • “Slow and steady wins the race.” – Aesop’s Fables: The Hare and the Tortoise
  • “One person’s meat is another’s poison.” – Aesop’s Fables: The Ass and the Grasshopper
  • “To call a spade a spade” – Adagia by Erasmus

Adages from the Holy Bible

  • “A man after his own heart” 1 Samuel 13:14
  • “At my wit’s end” Psalm 107:27
  • “Blind leading the blind” Matthew 15:14, Luke 6:39
  • “Can a leopard change his spots?” Jeremiah 13:23
  • “Don’t cast your pearls before swine” Matthew 7:6
  • “Drop in the bucket” Isaiah 40:15
  • “Eat, drink, and be merry” Ecclesiastes 8:15
  • “Golden calf” Exodus 32
  • “Good Samaritan” Luke 10:25-37
  • “Hammer swords into plowshares” Isaiah 2:4
  • “Handwriting on the wall” Daniel 5:5
  • “Labor of love” 1 Thessalonians 1:3
  • “Letter of the law” 2 Corinthians 3:6
  • “Many are called, but few are chosen” Matthew 22:14
  • “Man shall not live by bread alone” Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4
  • “More blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35
  • “My brother’s keeper” Genesis 4:9
  • “No peace for the wicked” Isaiah 48:22, Isaiah 57:21
  • “Out of the mouths of babes” Psalm 8:2
  • “Pride goes before a fall” Proverbs 16:19
  • “Red sky at morning” Matthew 16:3
  • “Salt of the earth” Matthew 5:13
  • “Signs of the times” Matthew 16:3
  • “Soft answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1
  • “Strait and narrow” Matthew 7:14
  • “The blind leading the blind” Matthew 15:14, Luke 6:39
  • “The love of money is the root of all evil” 1 Timothy 6:10
  • “The truth shall make you free” John 8:32
  • “There’s nothing new under the sun” Ecclesiastes 1:9
  • “To everything there is a season” Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • “Twinkling of an eye” 1 Corinthians 15:52

Adages can come from a variety of sources; but, what they all have in common, is that they may have started out as a saying but they are now accepted as a truth of life.

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