A concise, clever, often paradoxical statement or line of verse. Adjective: epigrammatic.
- Balanced Sentence
- Commonly Confused Words: Epigram, Epigraph, and Epitaph
- "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young," by Oscar Wilde
Etymology:From the Greek, "inscription"
Examples and Observations:
- "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."
- "I am not young enough to know everything."
- "Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing."
- "No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend."
- "The only 'ism' Hollywood believes in is plagiarism."
- "Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine."
- "Audiences are always better pleased with a smart retort, some joke or epigram, than with any amount of reasoning."
(Charlotte Perkins Gilman)
- "What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole, its body brevity, and wit its soul."
- "The art of newspaper paragraphing is to stroke a platitude until it purrs like an epigram."
- "A brilliant epigram is a solemn platitude gone to a masquerade ball."
- "Three things must epigrams, like bees, have all:
A sting and honey and a body small."
(Latin verse, quoted by J. Symonds, Studies of the Greek Poets, 1877)
- Renaissance Epigrams: Gall, Vinegar, Salt, and Honey
"In the Renaissance, George Puttenham remarked that the epigram is a 'short and sweete' form 'in which every mery conceited man might without any long studie or tedious ambage, make his friend sport, and anger his foe, and give a prettie nip, or shew a sharpe conceit [i.e., idea] in few verses' (The Art of English Poesy, 1589). Epigrams of both praise and blame were a popular Renaissance genre, notably in the poetry of Ben Jonson. The critic J.C. Scaliger in his Poetics (1560) divided epigrams into four kinds: gall, vinegar, salt, and honey (that is, an epigram could be bitterly angry, sour, salacious, or sweet)."
(David Mikics, A New Handbook of Literary Terms. Yale University Press, 2007)
- Types of Epigrams
"The Epigram is expressed in various ways: