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A saying is any concisely written or spoken linguistic expression that is especially memorable because of its meaning or structure.

There are a number of specific types of sayings:

  • Aphorism – A saying that contains a general, observational truth; "a pithy expression of wisdom or truth".[1][page needed]
    • Adage, proverb, or saw – A widely known or popular aphorism that has gained its credibility by virtue of long use.
    • Apophthegm – "[A]n edgy, more cynical aphorism; such as, 'Men are generally more careful of the breed of their horses and dogs than of their children.'"[2]
  • Cliché or bromide – An unoriginal and overused saying.
    • Platitude – A cliché unsuccessfully presented as though it were truly meaningful, original, or effective.
  • Epigram – A clever and often poetic written saying that comments on a particular person, idea, or thing.
  • Epitaph – A saying in honor of a dead person, often engraved on a headstone or plaque.
  • Epithet – A descriptive word or saying already widely associated with a particular person, idea, or thing.
  • Idiom – A saying that has only a non-literal interpretation; "an expression whose meaning can't be derived simply by hearing it, such as 'Kick the bucket.'"[2]
  • Mantra – A religious, mystical, or other spiritual saying that is repeated over and over, for example, in meditation.
  • Maxim or gnome – (1) An instructional saying about a general principle or rule for behavior; or, simply, (2) an aphorism.
  • Motto – A saying used frequently by an individual person or group to concisely state their general outlook or intentions.
  • Quip – A clever or funny saying based on an observation.
  • Witticism – A saying that is clever, and also usually funny, notable for its form or style just as much as (or more than) its content.


  1. Randall, Bernice (1991). When is a Pig a Hog?: A Guide to Confoundingly Related English Words. New York: Galahad Books.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rovin, Jeff (1994). What’s the Difference? A Compendium of Commonly Confused and Misused Words. New York: Ballantine Books.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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