I became suspicious after running into several different words that seemed to represent similar ideas in English, so I conducted a short investigation to get to the bottom of this. Words such as Adage, Aphorism, Cliché, Idiom, Maxim, Proverb, Quip and Saying are all very similar and sometimes the distinction between them is often pretty vague. Upon my exploration, I found out that an adage is an old saying, which has obtained credit by long use. An adage is something which people often say and which expresses a general truth about some aspect of life. An aphorism is a short witty sentence which expresses a general truth or comment. An aphorism is an unfriendly or rude, a short memorable impactful statement of a truth or an opinion. An aphorism is a statement or a quote, which expresses a point strongly.
A cliché is an overly commonplace saying, expression or idea, that is lacking in originality to the point where it becomes obvious and boring or trite. Clichés are often used thoughtlessly and without individual conviction. Clichés by their nature are uninspiring and they give the impression of lazy thoughtless creative work. An idiom is an expression that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of the words. Idioms are figurative phrases with an implied meaning, thus they are not to be taken literally. Many idioms are language specific, and this makes them difficult to translate. A maxim is a self-evident axiom or premise, a precept, a succinct statement or observation of a rule of conduct or moral teaching that is concise and forcefully expressive used as a general principle or rule. A maxim stresses the succinct formulation of a fundamental principle, general truth, or rule of conduct.
A proverb is a simple and short saying, widely known, often metaphorical, which expresses a basic truth or practical precept, based on common sense or cultural experience. A proverb is a short sentence that people often quote, which gives advice or tells you something about life. A proverb is collection of words (a phrase or sentence) that has been put forth, and has become a common saying that elucidates some truth. A quip is a short, witty comment that can be pleasant, wise, or sarcastic, but it usually carries an element of humor. A quip is often taken as a sign of cleverness, as this witty remark usually sounds like it came out of the spur-of-the-moment. A saying is any concisely written or spoken linguistic expression that is especially memorable because of its meaning or structure. A saying is a well-known wise statement that often has a meaning that is different from the simple meanings of the words it contains.
An adage can be any of the following phrases, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Examples of an aphorism would be, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, or “A bad penny always turns up”, or “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Some common clichés are, “All that glitters isn’t gold”, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist”, “And they all lived happily ever after”, “Cat got your tongue”, and “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” Idioms can relate to other words and some death idioms would be, “Kicked the bucket”, “Pushing up daises”, “Went to Davey Jones locker.” Examples of a maxim would be, “He who hesitates is lost” and “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Some examples of proverbs would be, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, “It’s no use locking the stable door after the horse has bolted” and “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.”
An example of a quip would be the remark made by Woody Allen when he said, “In California, they don’t throw their garbage away, they make it into TV shows.” Oscar Wilde was known for his witticism, and some of his quips were, “I have nothing to declare but my genius”, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing” and “I am not young enough to know everything.” Some sayings that I like are, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, anymore than standing in your garage makes you a car.” “I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” “Never argue with an idiot, because they’ll drag you down to their level and then they will beat you because they have more experience.”