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Word of the Day: Aphorism

Categories: GRE Vocabulary, SAT Vocabulary, Vocabulary Building Words, Vocabulary Improvement Tips |

Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.
– George Santayana (1863-1952)

If you want to be someone that other people look up to, and go to for advice, then you need to words to express the knowledge that you have to share. A good vocabulary is essential, because with a wealth of words to draw on you’ll always have the right ones for any situation. Being able to come up with the perfect phrase at just the right moment is a hallmark of both education and erudition. Many well-known writers and philosophers were praised for their skill with words, and their aphorisms are remembered and shared today.

An aphorism is a wise saying. Technically, only the original speaker of that saying or phrase has uttered an aphorism; once the saying is repeated over and over, it is more commonly referred to as a maxim, although the two terms are now fairly interchangeable.

If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few.
– Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

The word aphorism was first used in the 16th century in English, and has its roots in the Greek word horizein, meaning “to limit” or “to set a boundary.” Essentially, an aphorism is a phrase that contains a complete thought, set apart from other phrases because of its originality. If you want to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd, you’ll need to develop your vocabulary so that you can share your original thoughts. As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, the more words you learn, the more you’ll want to learn, and there are enough words in the English language to keep you learning for years to come.

Vita brevis, ars longa, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile.
(Life is short, and art long, opportunity fleeting, experience perilous, and decision difficult.
– Hippokrates of Kos (460-370 BCE)