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aphorism (ăfˈərĭzˌəm), short, pithy statement of an evident truth concerned with life or nature; distinguished from the axiom because its truth is not capable of scientific demonstration. Hippocrates was the first to use the term for his Aphorisms, briefly stated medical principles. Note his famous opening sentence: “Life is short, art is long, opportunity fleeting, experimenting dangerous, reasoning difficult.”
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a generalized, finalized, and profound idea of an author, expressed in laconic, refined form; it is distinguished by its apt expressiveness and obvious unexpectedness of judgment. Like a proverb, an aphorism does not prove or document but rather acts on the consciousness through the original formulation of a thought. The expressiveness of aphorisms increases with a decrease in the number of words; about three-fourths of all aphorisms consist of three to five words. Aphorisms are formed both in the context of scientific, philosophical, and artistic works and independently: “Mediocrity is more easily forgiven than talent” (E. Krotkii); “Each hears only what he understands” (J. W. Goethe); “Knowledge is power” (F. Bacon). The verbal fabric of aphorisms permits no changes.


Uspenskii, L. “Korotko ob aforizmakh.” In the collection Aforizmy. Compiled by E. S. Raize. Leningrad, 1964.
Asemissen, H. U. “Notizen über den Aphorismus.” Trivium. [Zürich,] 1949, no. 2.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
All of these passages borrowed from the "Aphorisms" reflect three themes: (1) the danger of dissolution of the laws; (2) the origin of laws; (3) threats to the rule of law such as those caused by overly complex laws or a multiplicity of laws.
Until that time, much of what makes the book interesting is the lack of explanation, the strangeness of moving from a photograph to a handwritten note to a list of New Year's resolutions to poems written on the back of fortune cookies to a series of aphorisms. When the book is explained away, however, some of its power is lost.
But he was not content merely to quote his favorite aphorisms: he often revised them.
aphorism Greek aphorismos distinction, determination, pithy statement, a derivative of aphorizein to mark off, distinguish, determine
He was, moreover, a fabled conversationalist, and as many aphorisms are scattered throughout his talk (as recorded by Boswell), as in his letters and essays.
It is an argument that recalls the aphorism from The Usual Suspects: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Nevertheless, he exists and utters the truth even at the cost of jeopardizing the logic of his own existence.
But juicier by far are "aphorisms of insight", which don't tell us what to do, but radically shift our view of how things are.
containing these aphorisms remained best seller for many years.
Illustrating economics; beasts, ballads and aphorisms. (reprint, 1980)
For more than a millennium, the German language and culture has given rise to memorable epigrams and aphorisms. Selected, compiled, organized, and translated by Ernest A.
Circuit Court of Appeals issued two rulings in favor of a relatively new religious group, called Summum, to place its Seven Aphorisms alongside Commandments monuments on public property in Duchesne City and Pleasant Grove City.
Filled with clever aphorisms, To Bee Or Not To Bee teaches that the only way out is in, that the greatest present is the present, and that life is a journey from I to we.