Guide to Literary Terms

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Aphorism

Aphorism - a brief, pithy, usually concise statement or observation of a doctrine, principle, truth, or sentiment.

The word comes from the Greek aphorizein, which means “to mark off by boundaries” and was formed by combining apo, meaning “from,” and horos, meaning “a limit.” The term was first used by Hippocrates.

An example of an aphorism is Benjamin Franklin’s

Early to bed
and early to rise,
makes a man
healthy, wealthy, and wise.

see: epigram, proverb


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