Adage vs Proverb: Difference and Comparison

English is a versatile language with more than a dozen terms like idioms, phrases, adages, proverbs, and much more. Generally, these are ‘ a set of words together used to convey wisdom, advise, inspiration and messages from our ancestors.’

When used in speech and writing, they enhance our language skills and make us look educated and of high quality, and is also the message we want to convey also strongly impacts the listeners.

Key Takeaways

  1. An adage is a short, traditional saying that conveys advice or a moral, while a proverb is a well-known, short phrase that expresses a general truth or a piece of wisdom.
  2. Adages are culturally specific, while proverbs are universal.
  3. Adages come as a metaphor, while proverbs are more direct.

Adage vs Proverb

Adages are sayings that have been in use for a long time and have become widely accepted as true, are short and to the point and contain a moral lesson. Proverbs are widely known and used sayings, but they may not necessarily be as old or as widely accepted as adages.

Adage vs Proverb

Language Quiz

Language quiz helps us to increase our language skills

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Choose the correct word: The problem was finally __________.

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What is the term used to describe words that connect clauses or sentences?

3 / 10

What is the term used to describe a language that has no written form?

4 / 10

Choose the correct word: I'm sorry, I didn't catch your __________.

5 / 10

"I don't like coffee." "______ do I."

6 / 10

Put ________ bag on ________ table, then give me ________ apple and ________ bar of chocolate.

7 / 10

What is the term for a word that shows a relationship between a noun and other words in a sentence?

8 / 10

What is a language made up of symbols that represent ideas or objects called?

9 / 10

What is the term used to describe a word that is spelled the same forwards and backwards?

10 / 10

Which language has the largest number of speakers?

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An adage is similar to a proverb, but at the same time, it is also different in several ways. It is widely accepted by many people around the world, globally, and it is considered a general truth.

Unlike proverbs, it is so old, very ancient and oriented much with philosophy. They majorly convey experiences of life and lessons that we all can relate to.

A proverb is a set of words that convey advice and message that are almost universally relatable. These are passed on from generation to generation and are conventional.

They express truth, advice, inspirational messages, and life lessons. They do not convey direct meanings, and they are metaphorical as well as completely formal. They fall under the genre ‘ folklore.’

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAdageProverb
Definition It is a small sentence that imparts and enforces wisdom. It is slightly longer than adages, and it conveys inspiration and advice.
LengthIt is short, precise, and concise.      It is longer and consists of more than a sentence.
UsageThey are used by a large audience since it is universally accepted. A lesser audience uses them, and they vary slightly in every region. 
OriginAdages are philosophical and they were brought up by being passed over from one generation to the other.   Proverbs originated from various sources like the Bible, holy scriptures, dramas, stories, literature, songs, movies, and from the words of great thinkers.
Role of The Bible The Bible doesn’t play a major role. Most of the proverbs were brought up from the bible.

What is Adage?

An adage is shorter in length, and it is a memorable saying. It is universally agreed, accepted, and preached.

This is more commonly used more widely than that proverbs since it is relatable to a lot of people and talk about the common life lessons that can be applicable to anyone and everyone belonging to different races and origin.

The wisdom, advice, and lessons conveyed through the adages are quite conventional and traditional.

 It is timeless, and this is its unique quality. It also alarms people on what the future might hold and how they should take precautions to guard themselves against impending dangers and also lifts the confidence and hope in the minds of the people.

The message they convey is strong, powerful, and has more impact. It comes in handy when someone wants to enforce a message strongly. It is also best suited for a larger and unanimous audience, as it is timeless and not based much on religion.

They are repeated a lot and used more frequently. They are more commonly used and are popular among people because of their popularity. They are admired by society and have also gained a consensus. Including adages in your speech and writings is such an intelligent move.


What is Proverb?

Proverbs are available in many languages, and proverbs are translated into different languages to ensure that valuable advice or life lesson reaches all people in different regions and races.

Bible has played a major role in preaching and reaching out to a lot of people with these valuable short sentences.

Every culture, irrespective of race and region, has its own proverbs. Though Bible is a major source of proverbs, there are yet a plethora of sources for proverbs. A lot of enlightened and celebrated visionaries and leaders have provided us with proverbs.

Poetry and literature are other major sources.

In addition, songs, movies, dramas, and many more have led to the birth of proverbs. Stories, their morals, and famous dialogues from skits, dramas, and literature have also conquered people’s hearts, and many from these origins are regarded as proverbs.

The oldest proverb, or the very first proverb, goes back to around 1800 BC. Proverbs are extremely helpful in creating a long-lasting and strong impact in the minds of people during a crisis or emergency. However, it may take some time to understand what is realised for younger students.


Main Differences Between Adage and Proverb

  1. An adage is more ancient than the proverbs and has a longer story, whereas proverbs are more recent.
  2. An adage is shorter, whereas the proverbs are lengthier.
  3. Adages are used by a larger audience, whereas a smaller audience use proverbs.
  4. Adages are used more frequently, whereas proverbs are relatively less frequently used.
  5. Not a lot of adages are derived from the bible, but a lot of proverbs are taken from the Bible.
Difference Between Adage and Proverb

Last Updated : 15 June, 2023

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