An adage is a short saying that is considered to be a universal truth. It is a memorable saying that is passed down in popular culture. Adages and proverbs are often thought to be the same thing, and the terms are often used interchangeably. Adage is a more general term than proverb-proverbs are a type of adage. We use adages in our everyday language to express universal truths, but many of those adages came from literary sources.
God helps those who help themselves.
Birds of a feather flock together.
Examples of Adages from Literature
Ben Franklin wrote Poor Richard's Almanack and it is full of adages. Almanacs were popular publications during Franklin's time, and often contained tips and weather forecasts. Franklin wrote under the name "Poor Richard" and published his "almanac" that contained pithy wisdom.
- A penny saved is a penny earned.
- Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
- Little strokes fell great oaks.
- Eat to live and not live to eat.
Aesop's fables are another source of adages. Each fable teaches a lesson, many of which have become universal truths.
From "The Tortoise and the Hare"-Slow and steady wins the race.
From "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"-Appearances can be deceiving.
Many Bible verses have become adages over time, as we use the universal truths of the scriptures in everyday language.
- To everything there is a season.
- Pride goes before a fall.
- He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.
- The love of money is the root of all evil.
The writings of William Shakespeare have also produced adages that have been passed down and become popular in every day language.
- All that glitters is not gold.
- All's well that ends well.
- Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
- Brevity is the soul of wit.
Literary Terms Examples