An aphorism is a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed down by tradition from generation to generation. The concept is distinct from those of an adage, brocard, chiasmus, epigram, maxim, principle, proverb, and saying; some of these concepts are types of aphorism.


Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) was a short story writer and playwright with a rapier wit and an acerbic take on love, marriage, and friendship. Her aphorisms, published between 1958 and 1966, will delight aficionados of this aristocratic, subversive genre. Not all of the collection consists of aphorisms, strictly speaking: some are simply reflections, brutally honest as they are clever, on McLaughlin’s own fears and foibles. Aperçus is truly an autobiography in epigrams.