Guide to Literary Terms

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Proverb

Proverb - a short saying, usually of unknown or ancient origin, that expresses some useful thought, commonplace truth, or moral lesson and is most often expressed in simple, homely language. Sometimes, it is allegorical or symbolic. A proverb is appealing because it is succinct and uses simple rhyme, irony, metaphor, and comparison or contrast. Proverbs are common to almost all nations and peoples.

The term is from the Latin proverbium derived from verbum, meaning “word.”

Proverbs are rooted in folklore and preserved by oral tradition.

The best known collection is The Book of Proverbs following The Psalms in The Old Testament.

see: aphorism, epigram