Word of the Day: Aphorism

Word of the Day

The word of the day for today is aphorism, a noun which means “a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation” (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/aphorism?s=t). It’s interesting to me that the example given by dictionary.com is the famous Lord Acton quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I have experienced the results of this truism a lot the last few years, not only in watching national politics but even where I work.

According to www.etymonline.com, the word enters the language in the “1520s, ‘concise statement of a principle’ (especially in reference to the ‘Aphorisms of Hippocrates’), from Middle French aphorisme (corrected from Old French aufforisme, 14c.), from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos ‘definition; short, pithy sentence,’ from aphorizein ‘to mark off, divide,’ from apo ‘from’ (see apo-) + horizein ‘to bound’ (see horizon).
“General sense of ‘short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import’ (e.g. ‘life is short, and art is long’) is from 1580s in English. Distinguished from an axiom, which is a statement of self-evident truth; an epigram is like an aphorism, but lacking in general import. Maxim and saying can be used as synonyms for aphorism, but maxims tend to be practical and sayings tend to be more commonplace and have an author’s name attached.”

The truth is that most people don’t really make clear distinctions among the various words.

Tonight is the Fiesta Bowl, Clemson versus Ohio State. In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d share a few aphorisms regarding winning and losing. And actually, most of these are sayings because they can be attributed to a specific individual.

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” –Vince Lombardi

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” –Wilma Rudolph (despite having grown up as a sickly child who had to wear a brace on one leg, she became the first woman to win 3 gold medals in track and field in the 1960 Olympic Games)

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” –Muhammad Ali

“When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.” –Paul Brown (the first coach of the Cleveland Browns, for whom the team was named)

“Winning isn’t everything, but it beats anything that comes in second.” –Paul “Bear” Bryant

“You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going.” –Morgan Wootten (former coach of DeMatha Catholic High School’s basketball team, the second winningest basketball coach of all time)

“At a young age winning is not the most important thing… the important thing is to develop creative and skilled players with good confidence.” –Arsene Wenger (long-time Arsenal coach)

“I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I Love to play.” –Boris Becker

“Nothing is black-and-white, except for winning and losing, and maybe that’s why people gravitate to that so much.” –Steve Nash

“There are more important things in life than winning or losing a game.” –Lionel Messi

I really like that last one. But here’s my favorite:

“We play a sport. It’s a game. At the end of the day, that’s all it is, is a game. It doesn’t make you any better or any worse than anybody else. So by winning a game, you’re no better. By losing a game, you’re no worse. I think by keeping that mentality, it really keeps things in perspective for me to treat everybody the same.” –Tim Tebow

By the way, I found all these quotes at https://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/02/best-sports-quotes-about-winning.

The image, from the same website, is of Tim Tebow when he was winning at the University of Florida.