A. The Nature of Proverbial Literature
The Hebrew word for proverb is mashal, which referred to a comparison, whether brief or extended. Later the word was used to describe a wide variety of wise pronouncements, from a general maxim to wisecrack. The English word "proverb" derives from the Latin words pro ("for") and verba ("words"), which reflects the idea that a proverb condenses many words into a few.
Unlike the polemical books of the NT, such as Romans, there is no sustained argument in the book of Proverbs, nor is there much of a logical structure in any particular paragraph. Rather, the book of Proverbs is largely a collection of separate, isolated, self-contained observations on reality which tell us how best to cope. They are units of thought unto themselves and could conceivably be placed in any order.
As far as the nature of these self-contained units is concerned, they are best described as pithy sayings (defined by Websters as "having substance and point; tersely cogent). I.e., they are simple illustrations which expose and expound upon fundamental realities of life. Someone once referred to them as compressed experience. They are not unlike our many English proverbs, such as
"A rolling stone gathers no moss"