Difference Between Adage and Proverb (With Table)

The terms adage and proverb are quite synonymous. They, however, have different usages and different origins. Despite some similarities, they have some very significant points of difference between them. Thus, one should not use these words interchangeably. It is crucial to know these differences so that we do not mix them up with each other.

Adage vs Proverb

The main difference between Adages and Proverbs is that adages have been in use for longer than proverbs. Lengthwise though, the latter tends to be longer than the former. Proverbs and adages are extremely valuable to visual designers and cartoonists. They are very crucial while creating cartoons. The witty sayings provide humor and a satirical flavor to the cartoon captions.

Adages are proverbs with deeper meanings than the words themselves. Many individuals believe that adages are true sayings. People have come to accept the true meaning of an adage. We should recall that any adage from the proverbial biblical book is called a proverb rather than a saying.

Proverbs show a close resemblance to adages. Proverbs, on the other hand, are usually longer. It is considered truth as it embodies common-sense counsel rooted in real-life experience. The word “proverb” derives from the Latin “proverbial,” which means “train.” We use it extensively to educate and coach valuable lessons, and they accomplish this.

Comparison Table Between Adage and Proverb

Parameters of ComparisonAdageProverb
DefinitionIt imparts wisdom. It is handed down through generations and is a saying.People usually use this for giving valuable advice to families.
LengthThese are usually short in length.These are usually longer as compared to the adage.
TruthIt is believed that they are true.Most of the time, they describe people’s real-life experiences and circumstances.
UseCompiled into a collection of adages to use. This was done by Benjamin Franklin.Used frequently in rendering morals at the ends of stories or fables.
OriginsAdages found in the book of proverbs are called proverbs.Most have their origins from the Holy Writ. However, they also originate from witty sayings of the day.

What is Adage?

You can find adages in a broad range of writing styles, including literature, television, and marketing. Adages are mainly intended to raise the audience’s awareness of aspects of life that are fundamental to their lives. Adages also help to disclose deeper implications and wisdom. But most of the time, this is about teaching moral lessons to the audience and emphasizing universal truths.
We may also use adages to summarize information in some types of writing. We can take the example of fairytales here. In these, an adage may be found at the end of the story. It usually summarizes the moral lesson. Adages assist audiences with essential takeaways and help children comprehend basic moral teachings because of their brevity and witty nature.

Additionally, adages are trustworthy since they are well-known and speak to universal truths that have endured the test of time. They also prefer to preserve philosophical ideals to become emblems of wisdom in a culture. Adages can also be thought of as manifestations of living guidelines.

What is Proverb?

The wording in proverbs is generally symbolic and formulaic.

People borrow proverbs from cultures and languages with which they come into touch, hence some proverbs exist in multiple languages. The Bible and medieval Latin (assisted by Erasmus’ work) have played a significant role in the distribution of proverbs in the West. However, not all Biblical proverbs were disseminated in the same way.

Interpreting these are often tough jobs. However, if done in context, they are done best. It is far more difficult to interpret proverbs from other cultures than it is to interpret proverbs from one’s own culture. There are differing interpretations of the saying “A rolling stone gathers no moss” even among English-speaking nations. Some interpret the adage as criticizing someone who keeps moving and improving, viewing moss as a positive thing like profit; others interpret it as praising individuals who keep moving and growing, considering moss as a terrible thing like bad habits.

Similarly, the saying One hand cannot clap has two distinct connotations. These are among Tajik speakers. Aphorism is commonly interpreted as encouraging teamwork. Others interpret it to mean that an argument necessitates the participation of two persons. We need to know the meaning and utility of the term for proper employment of it while speaking.

Main Differences Between Adage and Proverb

  1. As adages have been handed down through generations, they are a collection of past experiences that have been passed down from family to family over time. Meanwhile, proverbs provide families with advice that they can use.
  2. Adages are typically short and to the point, while proverbs, on the other hand, are frequently longer.
  3. Adages are thought to be true, whereas proverbs frequently refer to real-life situations and experiences of individuals.
  4. A collection of Adages to Use has been created from a variety of adages. Benjamin Franklin did this, but Proverbs are typically employed to provide morals at the end of stories or fables.
  5. Proverbs are adages found in the book of Proverbs. The majority, on the other hand, has biblical roots. They are, nevertheless, derived from humorous sayings of the day.


Proverbs and adages are short adages that people remember for the wisdom or truths they contain. In general, proverbs and adages are grounded in real-life situations. They are intelligent, and parents and grandparents frequently utilize them to teach youngsters simple but crucial life lessons. Adages have existed for a longer time than proverbs, and the latter is more often used, even though both are equally meaningful. A proverb is frequently included in a narrative or fable with a moral. Generally, there isn’t much difference between the two terms in literary circles. A proverb and an adage are interchangeable terms. A proverb, on the other usually delivers counsel, but an adage conveys a reality about how ordinary happenings can affect the reader’s life.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rfWFu5C-tL0C&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=proverbs&ots=2HG_1py_To&sig=LPSekfwBddBUp36oZ4yErzi44sw
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Hd5PAAAAcAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA8&dq=adages+and+proverbs&ots=mkxUALHB-y&sig=1NA_NN0UarSXSzDAmhU1yp5FFVY