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Saying vs Saw vs Adage vs Proverb vs Maxim vs Motto vs Epigram vs Aphorism vs Apothegm

Saying, sawadageproverbmaximmottoepigramaphorismapothegm can all denote a sententious expression of a general truth.

saying is a brief current or habitual expression that may be anonymous, traditional, or attributable to a specific source.

saw is an oft-repeated and usually traditional or old saying.

An adage is a saying given credit by long use and general acceptance.

proverb is an adage couched, usually, in homely and vividly concrete or figurative phrase.

maxim offers a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct often in the form of a proverb.

motto is usually a maxim or moral aphorism adopted by a person, a society, or an institution as a guiding principle or as a statement of an aim or ideal.

The last three terms, epigram, aphorism, and apothegm, commonly imply known authorship and a conscious literary quality.

An epigram gets its effectiveness from its terseness and a witty turn of phrase; it characteristically presents a paradox or a cleverly pointed antithesis.

An aphorism is a pithy epigram that requires some thought.

An apothegm is a sharply pointed and often startling aphorism such as Johnson’s remark, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”