Epigram - Explore What It Is, Definition and Examples

“I can resist everything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde. Can you identify if this is a proverb or an epigram? Any guesses? Not sure? Read through the article to find out what an epigram is, its definition and how the figure of speech can be used in your speech and writing. Also, check out the differences between an epigram and a proverb, and go through the examples given to have a clear idea of what epigrams are and how you can use them to your benefit.

Table of Contents

What is an Epigram? – Meaning and Definition

An epigram is a short, interesting and insightful idea or thought about a specific subject expressed in a witty, satirical and funny manner.

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines an epigram as “a short poem or phrase that expresses an idea in a clever or humorous way”. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an epigram is defined as “a terse, sage, or witty and often paradoxical saying”, and according to the Cambridge Dictionary, an epigram is “a short saying or poem that expresses an idea in a clever, funny way”.

What Makes an Epigram Different from a Proverb?

To know the ways in which an epigram differs from a proverb, check out the following table.

Epigram

Proverb

  • An epigram is a short, interesting and witty thought or idea on a particular subject, usually presented in a funny manner.
  • A proverb is a short statement that conveys a basic truth in a direct or satirical manner.
  • An epigram is usually said by someone and documented.
  • A proverb is not quoted by a specific person; but a general saying passed on from one generation to another.
  • For example:
    • “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • For example:
    • A stitch in time saves nine.

Common Examples of Epigrams

Here are a few examples of epigrams that you can go through.

  • There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. – Oscar Wilde
  • “There are no gains without pains.” – Benjamin Franklin
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “The Child is father of the Man.” – William Wordsworth
  • “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.” – John F. Kennedy
  • “The only ‘ism’ Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.” – Dorothy Parker
  • “If we don’t end war, war will end us.” – H. G. Wells
  • “Live simply, so that others may simply live.” – Mother Teresa
  • “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” – Oscar Wilde

Frequently Asked Questions on Epigrams in English

What is an epigram?

An epigram is a short, interesting and insightful idea or thought about a specific subject expressed in a witty, satirical and funny manner.

What is the definition of an epigram?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines an epigram as “a short poem or phrase that expresses an idea in a clever or humorous way”. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an epigram is defined as “a terse, sage, or witty and often paradoxical saying”, and according to the Cambridge Dictionary, an epigram is “a short saying or poem that expresses an idea in a clever, funny way”.

What is the difference between an epigram and a proverb?

An epigram and a proverb are both short statements that are different from each other in a few ways. The first fact that makes the two different is that an epigram is a witty, satirical and insightful statement said by a particular person, mostly someone who is well-known for their work in their forte; on the other hand, a proverb is a short statement that states a general truth and is not credited to anyone specifically. Another fact is that proverbs have been passed on from one generation to another; whereas, epigrams are found in works of art and literature.

Give some examples of epigrams.

Here are a few examples of epigrams for your reference.

  • “If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” – Catherine the Great
  • “The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” – Audrey Hepburn
  • “Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine.” – Fran Lebowitz
  • “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.

*

*