Proverbs vs. Adages

You will not gain much benefit if you don’t take risks in life.”

“No risk, No gain”

Both of these statements mean the same but the second one must have caught your attention first as it’s more crisp and concise.

Such short and to the point sayings are called Proverbs or an Adage. These sayings are important because they imply a lot more than what meets the eye.

A Proverb can be an Adage but there are some differences between the two.

  • The main difference is that an Adage conveys something that is believed to be true by the people. It states a general truth and owes it credibility to the fact that it has been used for ages. A Proverb however offers a piece of advice and is more practical as it has been experienced numerous times.

The adage “You’re never too late to learn” states the general truth that you can learn something new regardless of your age.

The Proverb “A stitch in time saves nine” is an advice – completing your work on time saves you from doing more work later.

  • Proverbs are more commonly used than Adages as they describe things people experience in everyday life. They are based more on common sense and not some universal truth, as in the case of an Adage. “A penny saved is a penny earned” is a proverb that many can relate to in life. It means it’s wise to save money.

These slight differences can be confusing but it is essential to use the right one at the right place.

For example: If your younger brother is bursting crackers without adult supervision. You could say any of the following to him:

  • Better safe than sorry                                     (adage)
  • Prevention is better than cure                       ( proverb)

Although both of these mean the same, it’s what you want to convey that makes all the difference. If you want to advice him to take safety measures, you would use the proverb, but if you are just stating that it’s dangerous, you will use the adage.

Both are synonyms and there’s only a thin line separating the two. Keep these minor differences in mind and convey all that you want to in just a few words!

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