Aphorismus

An Introduction to Aphorismus

Aphorismus (derives from Greek word aphorismós, literally means “a marking off”, or “rejection”), is a figure of speech which consists in calling into question the justification of a proper use of a word.

It often comes in the form of a rhetorical question which is meant to imply a difference between the present thing in discussion and the general notion of the subject.

Examples of Aphorismus
  • “For you have but mistook me all this while.
    I live with bread like you, feel want,
    Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
    How can you say to me I am a king?”
  • — Shakespeare, Richard II
  • “You eat meat. And you call yourself an animal lover?”

Aphorismus is a figure of speech which is bound to invoke questions and disputes certain ideas or opinions. To assume its potency, it is heavily dependent on the matter in perspective. This is evident in the first example above; where we see Richard II calls into question the veracity of the King’s title, not merely because he does not have the title bestowed on him, but he questions the implications or necessary traits seemingly required for such a title.

Further Readings:
Wikipedia AphorismusOpens in new window
Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 207.
Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms; Gregory T. Howard