The Devils Dictionary


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A male relative of an office-holder, or of his bondsman. The deputy is commonly a beautiful young man, with a red necktie and an intricate system of cobwebs extending from his nose to his desk. Die , n. The word is found in an immortal couplet by that eminent poet and domestic economist, Senator Depew:. Dog , n. This Divine Being in some of his smaller and silkier incarnations, takes, in the affection of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant.

The Dog is a survival—an anachronism. He toils not, neither does he spin, yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a door-mat all day long, sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means wherewith to purchase an idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned with a look of tolerant recognition. Education , n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. Elegy , n. Envelope , n. The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter.

Epicure , n. An opponent of Epicurus, an abstemious philosopher who, holding that pleasure should be the chief aim of man, wasted no time in gratification of the senses. Exhort , v. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.

Exile , n. One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador. Made a joke on the ex-Isle of Erin. Coldly received. War with the whole world! Fork , n. An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth. Formerly the knife was used for this purpose, and by many worthy persons is still thought to have many advantages over the other tool, which, however, they do not altogether reject, but use to assist in the charging of the knife. Frog , n. A reptile with edible legs. Schliemann has set the question forever at rest by uncovering the bones of the slain frogs.

Gallows , n. A stage for the performance of miracle plays, in which the leading actor is translated to heaven. In this country the gallows is chiefly remarkable for the number of persons who escape it. Geology , n. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles.

The Devil's Dictionary: Love | Infoplease

The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools. Graces , n. Three beautiful goddesses, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, who attended upon Venus, serving without salary. They were at no expense for board and clothing, for they ate nothing to speak of and dressed according to the weather, wearing whatever breeze happened to be blowing.

Handkerchief , n. A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears. Hemp , n. A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of neckware which is frequently put on after public speaking in the open air and prevents the wearer from taking cold. Hog , n. A bird remarkable for the catholicity of its appetite and serving to illustrate that of ours.

Among the Mahometans and Jews, the hog is not in favor as an article of diet, but is respected for the delicacy of its habits, the beauty of its plumage and the melody of its voice. It is chiefly as a songster that the fowl is esteemed; a cage of him in full chorus has been known to draw tears from two persons at once. Hostility , n. Idleness, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.

Innate , adj. Interpreter , n. Interregnum , n. The period during which a monarchical country is governed by a warm spot on the cushion of the throne. The experiment of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm again. Introduction , n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. Kilt , n. A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and Americans in Scotland. Lap , n. One of the most important organs of the female system—an admirable provision of nature for the repose of infancy, but chiefly useful in rural festivities to support plates of cold chicken and heads of adult males.

Litigation , n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage. Logomachy , n. A war in which the weapons are words and the wounds punctures in the swim-bladder of self-esteem—a kind of contest in which, the vanquished being unconscious of defeat, the victor is denied the reward of success. Mayonnaise , n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion. Me , pro. It is known that Arimaxus was derived from a hole in the earth, made by a stroke of lightning.

The Devils Dictionary

Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work. Pedestrian, n. The variable and audible part of the roadway for an automobile. President, n. Slang, n. The grunt of the human hog Pignoramus intolerabilis with an audible memory. The speech of one who utters with his tongue what he thinks with his ear, and feels the pride of a creator in accomplishing the feat of a parrot.

A means under Providence of setting up as a wit without a capital of sense. I live in Stocholm Sweden and is very interested in satiric writers. I like to know more about the history of Ambrose Bierce. Can you contribute some interesting information? Rgds John Kvarnstrom. Please submit a quiz here. Here is where you find links to related content on this site or other sites, possibly including full books or essays about Ambrose Bierce written by other authors featured on this site.

The Devil's Dictionary Search. Economy n. Purchasing the barrel of whisky that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford. Egotist n. Elope v. To exchange the perils and inconveniences of a fixed residence for the security and comfort of travel. Equal adj. As bad as something else. Expectation n. The state or condition of mind which in the procession of human emotions is preceded by hope and followed by despair. Fault n. One of my offenses, as distinguished from one of yours, the latter being crimes. Feast n. A festival. A religious celebration usually signalized by gluttony and drunkenness, frequently in honor of some holy person distinguished for abstemiousness.

Fidelity n. A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed. Fraud n. The life of commerce, the soul of religion, the bait of courtship and the basis of political power. Genealogy n. Gratitude n. A sentiment lying midway between a benefit received and a benefit expected. Habit n. A shackle for the free. Heaven n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own. History n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.

Home n. The place of last resort — open all night. Homesick adj. Dead broke abroad. Houseless adj. Having paid all taxes on household goods. Idiot n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. Ignoramus n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about. Immaculate adj. Not as yet spotted by the police. Infancy n. Leisure n. Lucid intervals in a disordered life. Luminary n. One who throws light upon a subject; as an editor by not writing about it.

Marriage n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two. Meekness n. Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worthwhile. Misfortune n.


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The kind of fortune that never misses. Morning n. The end of night and dawn of dejection. Mortality n. The part of immortality that we know about. Mosquito n. The spore of insomnia, as distinguished from Conscience, the bacillus of the same disease. Optimist n. Out-of-doors n. Perdition n. Pessimism n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.

Philosophy n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing. Picture n. A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome in three. Pillage v. To carry on business candidly. Pray v. Prescription n. Present n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope. Read v. To get the sense of something written, if it has any. Commonly, it has not. Responsibility n. Riches n. The savings of many in the hands of one. Rite n. A religious or semi-religious ceremony fixed by law, preceptor, and customs with the essential oil of sincerity carefully squeezed out of it.

Sauce n. The one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment. Twice adv. Once too often. Vote n. Wit n. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out. Oct 29, Ana-Maria Petre rated it really liked it. Ambrose Bierce is that funny, sardonic uncle who always disagrees with your father at family reunions.

He's a highly intelligent person who probably knows they're the smartest in most rooms and laughs at the stupidity and hypocrisy of others, but subtly enough not to be understood by them.

The Devil's Dictionary

I must admit I loved this book. I tend to be cynical myself at times, and so agree with Mr. I think cynics are bluntly honest with themselves, and their distrust of people relies in a high awareness of Ambrose Bierce is that funny, sardonic uncle who always disagrees with your father at family reunions. I think cynics are bluntly honest with themselves, and their distrust of people relies in a high awareness of their own feelings and motives. And they are usually smart men. It is well-known that intelligent people have a keen sense of self-irony and sarcasm, because they see the truth in things which is not a happy truth.

Laughing at it is the best weapon against madness. However, it's a depressing way to see the world, and it involves a certain blindness to the light. People are bad, that's true. They are dishonest, deceitful, greedy and cruel. But people are also beautiful, and kind, and wise. It's kind of twisted to see the world in just one way, and although cynics claim to understand the truth, they only grasp half of it and close their eyes to the other.

I have not removed any starts for disagreeing with the book's philosophy. Bierce gets his point across well; as I said, he's a clever guy. There are some parts of this book that are outdated, though, and don't make much sense today, so I couldn't five-star it. This one has over pages, as compared to one budget edition with only pages. Wikipedia proclaims Ambrose Bierce an "American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist.

This book is chock-full of mini-masterpieces of snark, arranged in parody-dictionary format, such as: Barometer : An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having. Bore : A person who talks when you wish him to listen. Painting : The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic. This book may not be for everybody, but to paraphrase Alice Longworth Roosevelt, if you like this sort of thing, come sit by me! Highly recommended for the arch wit and Americana as well. Sep 12, Quiver rated it it was amazing Shelves: a-english , e-writing-language.

Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work. Having many times come across piercingly disquieting quotes from Bierce, I decided to read the dictionary itself, cantankerous literary warts and all. Some of the references have aged better than others; some will be better understood by American readers.

But what remains, distilled and universal, is dark, dark stuff. Bierce exhibits Dictionary, n. Bierce exhibits the blackest parts of the human soul—to the eventual chagrin of every reader. For no matter how much you're keen on cynical humour, no matter how much you chuckle at the first 65 definitions, the 66th for example, I'm not being precise here will make you cringe. Perhaps there's a reason why abridged versions exist and why it would be best to take only an occasional sip from this particularly bitter fountain of wit.

Here are some of my favourite definitions beginning with A. Abstainer, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. Achievement, n. Adore, v. To venerate expectantly. Advice, n. The smallest current coin. Air, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor. Allegory, n.

A metaphor in three volumes and a tiger. Alliance, n. Alone, adj. April Fool, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly. Argue, v. To tentatively consider with the tongue. If you enjoyed that, this dictionary may be to your liking. However, you have been warned: small sips only. Dec 28, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , classics , humor , books-that-made-me-go-wtf , poetry , quotes. Reading this book came about after I learned about dailylit. Mar 12, Peter Tillman rated it it was amazing Shelves: humor , reread-list. No idea who got my parents' copy.

It wasn't me! On the reread list, for sometime Nov 30, Evey rated it it was ok Shelves: reading-challenge , classics. Overall, it wasn't as great as I thought it would be. Dec 16, Alexandra Petri rated it it was amazing. I read this cover to cover! To be frank, I would not recommend reading it cover to cover. It is a dictionary, and, like most dictionaries, it doesn't have much of a driving forward plot. Don't do what I did -- just drop into it from time to time, and it's great!

It contains some absolutely killer zingers whose infinite variety has not been staled or withered with time or custom, or whatever that dang Antony and Cleopatra quote was. Like most dictionaries, it is handiest when you actually have a w I read this cover to cover! Like most dictionaries, it is handiest when you actually have a word in mind. If you ever need to say something mean to a rhadomancer, he really gives them the what-for. The poetry, on the other hand, staled pretty quickly. But you can forgive him, given how well the rest of it's held up.

Self-esteem: an erroneous appraisement Self-evident: evident to one's self and to nobody else. Year: A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments. I could go on, but find out for yourself instead! Mar 23, James rated it really liked it Shelves: humor. This is an irreverent literary foray from a curmudgeon who lived an adventurous life. His civil war experience was put to good use in his stories. His journalistic career lasted until when, at the age of seventy-one, he left for Mexico and was never heard from again.

Fortunately he left behind this book of cynical and satirical definitions that show off the underside of humanity. Some definitions are short essays while others provide an opportunity for Bierce to display some verse. He even This is an irreverent literary foray from a curmudgeon who lived an adventurous life. He even included some brief dialogues as demonstration of the definition when it took his fancy. Charmingly eccentric these definitions often lay bare the truth of human foibles.

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I find them worth reading and rereading as a reminder of what makes some of us tick. Mar 02, Lynsie rated it it was amazing Shelves: funnyshit , classics. Written in , this is a wonderful piece of biting satire from one of Mark Twain's friends and rivals. This disease, like caries and many other ailments, is prevalent only amongst civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more f Written in , this is a wonderful piece of biting satire from one of Mark Twain's friends and rivals.

A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent bystanders. Mar 30, Sean DeLauder rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: aspiring cynics. Shelves: reference. I don't imagine this is a space provided for a review so much as an attempt at one's own misanthropic definitions. Here's a handful that come readily to mind whenever my eyes catch on this book in its place on the bookshelf. Bigot n. Egocentric adj. Hypocrite n. Oct 21, Tosh rated it it was amazing.

I bought a version of this book for a plane trip back to Los Angeles. A nervous flyer, it kept me calm and collected. What is great is that one can dip into it by just opening a page and then closing it. The perfect format for bath-reading and traveling on a bus. This edition is the one to get - complete and un-mixed.

May 27, Gabriel rated it really liked it. The Devil's Dictionary encapsulates the so called virtues in others which we mock, but secretly wish we had. It is best described as a lexicon of mischief and deceit, full of thought provoking poems, faux historical accounts with real life references, and tongue in cheek allegories while satirically redefining the world around us. However, as humorous as his entries may be, Bierce's writing more often than not leaves you wondering whether he was morally inclined to favor his definitions, than to The Devil's Dictionary encapsulates the so called virtues in others which we mock, but secretly wish we had.

However, as humorous as his entries may be, Bierce's writing more often than not leaves you wondering whether he was morally inclined to favor his definitions, than to oppose them. The results leave you with a less consistent, but enjoyable read that you'll want to revisit time from time to fully experience. Mar 25, Kostas Gailas rated it liked it. I think that a warning is offered that the reader must adhere to and that is that people with bad intentions have a different use of language when interacting with other human beings and therefore we must be careful.

Jan 24, Hossein Gholamie rated it it was amazing. Maybe for some people the title of the book is deceptive. This book has nothing to do with religion. One of the literary masterpieces of the United States. For Example: "I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language, the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection.

The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary
The Devils Dictionary The Devils Dictionary

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