These nouns refer to concise verbal expressions setting forth wisdom or a truth. A saying is an often repeated and familiar expression:
a collection of philosophical sayings.
Maxim denotes particularly an expression of a general truth or a rule of conduct:
"For a wise man, he seemed to me ... to be governed too much by general maxims"
Adage applies to a saying that has gained credit through long use:
a gift that gave no credence to the adage, "Good things come in small packages."
Saw often refers to a familiar saying that has become trite through frequent repetition:
old saws that gave little comfort to the losing team.
A motto expresses the aims, character, or guiding principles of a person, group, or institution:
"Exuberance over taste" is my motto.
An epigram is a witty expression, often paradoxical or satirical and neatly or brilliantly phrased:
In his epigram Samuel Johnson called remarriage a "triumph of hope over experience."
Proverb refers to an old and popular saying that illustrates something such as a basic truth or a practical precept:
"Slow and steady wins the race" is a proverb to live by.
Aphorism, denoting a concise expression of a truth or principle, implies depth of content and stylistic distinction:
Few writers have coined more aphorisms than Benjamin Franklin.