Old Wise Words
Published on August 23, 2015
Defining a “proverb” is a difficult task. Proverb scholars often quote Archer Taylor’s classic “The definition of a proverb is too difficult to repay the undertaking… An incommunicable quality tells us this sentence is proverbial and that one is not. Hence no definition will enable us to identify positively a sentence as proverbial”. Another common definition is from Lord John Russell (c. 1850) “A proverb is the wit of one, and the wisdom of many.” A proverb (from Latin: proverbium) is a simple and concrete saying, Old Wise Words, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim.