Proverb vs. Adage

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Proverb and Adage is that the Proverb is a saying that gives advice, usually as a metaphor and Adage is a short, philosophical, memorable saying

  • Proverb

    A proverb (from Latin: proverbium) is a simple, concrete, traditional saying that expresses a perceived truth based on common sense or experience. Proverbs are often metaphorical and use formulaic language. Collectively, they form a genre of folklore.

    Some proverbs exist in more than one language because people borrow them from languages and cultures similar to theirs. In the West, the Bible (including, but not limited to the Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin (aided by the work of Erasmus) have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs. Not all Biblical proverbs, however, were distributed to the same extent: one scholar has gathered evidence to show that cultures in which the Bible is the “major spiritual book contain between three hundred and five hundred proverbs that stem from the Bible,” whereas another shows that, of the 106 most common and widespread proverbs across Europe, eleven are from the Bible. However, almost every culture has its own unique proverbs.

  • Adage

    An adage (; Latin: adagium) is a concise, memorable, and usually philosophical aphorism that communicates an important truth derived from experience, custom, or both, and that many people consider true and credible because of its longeval tradition, i. e. being handed down generation to generation, or memetic replication.

    An adage sometimes implicates a failure to plan, such as “do not count your chickens before they hatch” and “do not burn your bridges”. Adages may be interesting observations, ethical rules, or skeptical comments on life in general.

    Some adages are products of folk wisdom that attempt to summarize a basic truth; these are generally known as “proverbs” or “bywords”. An adage that describes a general moral rule is a “maxim”. A pithy expression that has not necessarily gained credibility by tradition, but is distinguished by especial depth or excellent style is denominated an “aphorism”, while one distinguished by wit or irony is often denominated an “epigram”.

    Through overuse, an adage may become denominated a “cliché”, “truism”, or “old saw”. Adages originating in modernity are often given proper names and denominated “laws”, in imitation of the nomenclature of physical laws, or “principles”. Some adages, such as Murphy’s Law, are first formulated informally and given proper names later, while others, such as the Peter Principle, are given proper names when formulated; it might be argued that the latter do not represent true adages, but the two are often difficult to distinguish.Adages that were collected and used by ancient writers inspired Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus to publish his own collection. He revised his moderate volume of 800 adages multiple times until the final edition of Adagia published in 1536 included over 4,000. There have been many such collections since, usually in vernacular languages.Adages formulated in popular works of fiction often find their way into popular culture, especially when a subculture devoted to the work or its genre exists, as in the case of novels of science fiction. Many professions and subcultures create their own adages, which are cognizable as a kind of jargon; such adages may find their way into popular use, sometimes being altered in the process. Online communities, such as those that develop in Internet forums or Usenet newsgroups, often generate their own adages.

  • Proverb (noun)

    A applied to common situations.

  • Proverb (noun)

    A striking or paradoxical assertion; an obscure saying; an enigma; a parable.

  • Proverb (noun)

    A familiar illustration; a subject of contemptuous reference.

  • Proverb (noun)

    A drama exemplifying a proverb.

  • Proverb (verb)

    To write or utter proverbs.

  • Proverb (verb)

    To name in, or as, a proverb.

  • Proverb (verb)

    To provide with a proverb.

  • Adage (noun)

    An old saying which has obtained credit by long use

  • Adage (noun)

    An old saying which has been overused or considered a cliché; a trite maxim

  • Adage (noun)

    a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth

    “the old adage ‘out of sight out of mind’”

Oxford Dictionary

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