Definition of maxim in English:



  • A short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct.

    ‘the maxim that actions speak louder than words’
    • ‘And the loveable curmudgeon is responsible for most of literature's best quotations, maxims and aphorisms.’
    • ‘Therefore, ethical action is equated with following rules, principles, laws, maxims, and codes.’
    • ‘Together, writers associated with raison d'état are seen as providing a set of maxims to leaders on how to conduct their foreign affairs so as to ensure the security of the state.’
    • ‘It can also mean a precept, rule, principle, maxim, formula or method.’
    • ‘Perhaps, the gist of it all could be summed up in the old maxim that truth is stranger than fiction.’
    • ‘The common proverbial maxims of prudence, being founded in universal experience, are perhaps the best general rules which can be given about it.’
    • ‘The general maxim is that it is better for ten guilty men to go free than punish an innocent, and so we should oppose this change.’
    • ‘These were the jet-setting academics of the ancient world, who were praised for their maxims and consulted for their wisdom.’
    • ‘It is also true that ‘white wine with fish and red wine with meat’ is an absurd generalization built on a couple of sound maxims.’
    • ‘He abhorred the arrogant youngsters intruding on companies of whose staff and products they were wholly ignorant, brandishing maxims that threw hundreds out of work.’
    • ‘From childhood through adolescence, maxims are drilled into people; they get a manufactured answer for every question.’
    • ‘One would not expect a common ethical standard among maxims spoken by different characters in a mime.’
    • ‘What we have seen in various states is little more than the confirmation of old maxims about how and why governments grow and what, if anything, can be done to arrest that growth.’
    • ‘Besides the potential of wisdom attributed to popular maxims there is another sign pointing in the same direction.’
    • ‘This maxim was perhaps most apparent in May when the company announced it was going public.’
    • ‘They'll assume you're following certain maxims, and because of that platform of understanding, you can be much more meaningful.’
    • ‘You must form all conclusions and all maxims for yourselves, from premises and data collected and considered by yourself.’
    • ‘Some of these examples are maxims, precepts, quips, proverbs and epigrams.’
    • ‘Men of maxims enter into no such education, retaining the patented rules they already have to hand, bought off a common shelf.’
    • ‘In retrospect, my conversations reinforced a few very general maxims.’
    saying, adage, aphorism, proverb, motto, saw, axiom, dictum, precept, epigram
    catchphrase, slogan, byword, watchword
    truism, platitude, cliché
    bon mot
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (denoting an axiom): from French maxime, from medieval Latin (propositio) maxima largest or most important (proposition).