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Adages – Definition and Its Examples

Class 4
Jun 13, 2023


Adages are short sayings that are pointedly delivered and are often memorable.

They are based on truths commonly observed by people across cultures and often hit home.

Adages generally express a truth about life and are widely accepted as universal truths about the human condition.

Adages can pass from generation to generation because they are easily identified and speak to everyday experiences.

Some Adages

  1. A penny saved is a penny earned
  2. Stupid is as stupid as does
  3. Eat, drink, and be merry
  4. Early to bed and early to rise to make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise
  5. Little strokes fell great oaks

Difference Between Adage and Proverb

Proverbs tend to reflect matters of common sense and show up more around subjects that deal with everyday life.


For example, the saying, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” is a proverb that suggests that we should not fret over things from the past.

Adages tend to speak to a broader level of human experiences, such as the saying, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.”

Typically, adages have been passed down for many years because of their continued relevance to people.

Purpose of an Adage

They are found across different types of writing, from literature to television and marketing.

An adage’s primary purpose is to give the audience some awareness about essential aspects of life.


Furthermore, adages serve to reveal deeper meanings and wisdom.

Mainly, this involves conveying moral lessons to an audience, emphasizing universal truths.

In some kinds of writing, adages can also sum things up.

For example, in fairytales, an adage may be found at the end, to summarize the story’s moral lesson.

Examples of Adage in Literature

In William Shakespeare’s play

As You Like It,

Shakespeare has created a metaphor of life being a dramatic performance.

Since Shakespeare is one of the most widely-read authors of all time, it is no surprise that one of his lines became an adage.

  • From the following selection, the phrase “all the world’s a stage” has become a commonly accepted adage:
  • All the world’s a stage,
  • And all the men and women are merely players.
  • They have their exits and their entrances,
  • And one man in his time plays many parts,
  • His acts are seven ages.


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