New World Adages

For those of you who read my weekly series ‘Friday’s Phrase’, you know that I have a great fondness for idioms that are commonly used in the English language. The history of how a saying achieves commonality and its origins I find uniquely interesting. I am just weird that way.

I also love adages. Those old-timey pearls of wisdom that ring true through generations and centuries. The undeniable and ageless wisdom captured in brief, easily understood phrases. Often, so ancient as to not be attributable to any one writer or speaker, carrying on under their own weight of truism and relatability.

Proverbs and adages share many similarities but are not necessarily interchangeable. The truth in a proverb exists because it has been experienced numerous times by people in their own lives. Truth in an adage is derived from repeated accepted use, whether the reader has experienced it directly or not. Also, proverbs tend to teach a lesson through the telling of a story and are more common than adages, which may reflect unique cultures, geographical influence, and time periods. These, too, are often relegated to being sourced anonymously.

And like most, I love a good quote too. I don’t mean the direct quote of someone simply to establish the source. I am referring to the quotes that are timeless, inspirational, and empowering across a vast majority of readers. We see them on memes, blogs, social media, and almost all forms of writing. Most often attributed to someone who has already achieved some fame or notoriety. Their words given weight and substance based on their already accepted context of coming from a wise or learned person. I once read a blog entry that encouraged writers to include quotes in their work in an effort to capture a reader’s attention. I do not do that. I have no desire to provide my readers information that they can easily find on their own and has no unique nature.

Recently, I set off on an endeavor to create my own adages, geared to be more relevant to the times we live in now, yet holding onto the perspective and insight that makes them powerful, relatable, and true. If I am the first to write these adages, I may well endure as the author of the words. But that is unlikely, as a good adage is oft repeated without the need or concern for giving credit to any particular author. They hold sway without any need of the author’s notoriety. If I were already famous, maybe future generations would readily attribute them to the definition of a quote, and thus assure my credit for authoring the phrase. But, alas, I am not famous by any measure.

Then there is always the question any writer has as to whether their words are truly unique and yet unwritten by others. Or are they just a recycle of older adages reworded for a modern take on the idea? Or are they a reflection of a saying or quote we have encountered in our past, and our own hubris makes us think they are fresh, new, or unique?

With the confusion between what is an adage, a proverb, or a quote, I feel stuck as to exactly what to call them, but I think adage is the most correct reference. Someday, when I am really famous, maybe someone would consider them a quote. However, the time in which it would take to become a common, easily recognized phrase, is likely to see authorship fall by the wayside.

I am also a bit stuck as how to put them into a blog post. I already spurn the concept of keeping my entries to some arbitrary, easily consumable length. I am looking to reach readers who want more than the readily digestible snippets of information so prevalent in the world of social media. I want my work to be for readers who seek more. Other than my poems and prose, I purposefully write to provide more than just some brief entertainment, choosing to write entries that have some depth and, hopefully, a more thought-provoking nature. Yet these adages are only adages when they can stand on their own without any other fanfare. They are only valuable when they require no explanation. When the truths are self-evident and readily relatable.

I will share a few in this post to test the waters. Hopefully feedback from my readers will help eliminate the fog of what they are and how to present them. But, if not, I will have at least found a way to share some of them without posting a measly sixteen-word blog post. That kind of stuff is meant to be a tweet, and I so do not want my blog to be seen in the same light.

Brad’s New Adages for Modern Living:

Heartbreak is like frostbite. You’ll survive, but not without losing something.

When strong winds blow, a leaf must choose to remain on the tree and live.

Even if we agree, it doesn’t make everyone else assuredly wrong.

Unseen, yet not left undone, is the hallmark of truly selfless giving.

Acceptance and agreement are not the same thing, nor do they need to be.

I look forward to your comments and input as I want to find a way to share the others. Thanks for reading!

10 Responses to “New World Adages”
  1. I am particularly fond of the last two on your list. I would disagree with the first because I don’t know that I believe that everyone who has suffered frostbite has lost something. I liked this post!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      The last two are some of my favorites too. Hopefully the others I share in the future will resound just as clearly for you. Thanks for all the support. Love you!

  2. Jim Borden says:

    while I understand your point about adages need to to stand on their own, perhaps you could write such blog posts like Aesop’s fable. There’s a story, and then the moral of the story. The moral could be your “adage” or your “quote”, but the fable provides some depth.

    • Brad Osborne says:


      Thanks for reading and thank you for the suggestion. I do write Taoist koans (parables) which are short stories meant to provide insight to a Taoist tenet or philosophy, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch. I will see if I can make that fit as an arena for sharing the others. Thanks again, for your kind support!

  3. jupitergrant says:

    These are terrific. I particularly like the first one on heartbreak. Beautiful 💐

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] figured out a witty way to present this material. You can read of my lament in my original post ‘New World Adages’. A long dissertation on the differences between quotes, proverbs, and adages, finishing with a […]

  2. […] in the series of adages that resisted form. You can read of my lament in my original post ‘New World Adages’. A long dissertation on the differences between quotes, proverbs, and adages, finishing with a […]

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