Quotation Explorer - 'Ambrose Bierce'

DEINOTHERIUM, n. An extinct pachyderm that flourished when the Pterodactyl was in fashion. The latter was a native of Ireland, its name being pronounced Terry Dactyl or Peter O'Dactyl, as the man pronouncing it may chance to have heard it spoken or seen it printed. - Ambrose Bierce
REPROBATION, n. In theology, the state of a luckless mortal prenatally damned. The doctrine of reprobation was taught by Calvin, whose joy in it was somewhat marred by the sad sincerity of his conviction that although some are foredoomed to perdition, others are predestined to salvation. - Ambrose Bierce
BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head. - Ambrose Bierce
PLEASURE, n. The least hateful form of dejection. - Ambrose Bierce
PROSPECT, n. An outlook, usually forbidding. An expectation, usually forbidden. Blow, blow, ye spicy breezes -- O'er Ceylon blow your breath, Where every prospect pleases, Save only that of death. Bishop Sheber - Ambrose Bierce
Before undergoing a surgical operation, arrange your temporal affairs. You may live. - Ambrose Bierce
BENEFACTOR, n. One who makes heavy purchases of ingratitude, without, however, materially affecting the price, which is still within the means of all. - Ambrose Bierce
RATIONAL, adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection. - Ambrose Bierce
REVIEW, v.t. To set your wisdom (holding not a doubt of it, Although in truth there's neither bone nor skin to it) At work upon a book, and so read out of it The qualities that you have first read into it. - Ambrose Bierce
WEAKNESSES, n.pl. Certain primal powers of Tyrant Woman wherewith she holds dominion over the male of her species, binding him to the service of her will and paralyzing his rebellious energies. - Ambrose Bierce
FINANCE, n. The art or science of managing revenues and resources for the best advantage of the manager. The pronunciation of this word with the i long and the accent on the first syllable is one of America's most precious discoveries and possessions. - Ambrose Bierce
PANTOMIME, n. A play in which the story is told without violence to the language. The least disagreeable form of dramatic action. - Ambrose Bierce
RASCALITY, n. Stupidity militant. The activity of a clouded intellect. - Ambrose Bierce
REVERENCE, n. The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man. - Ambrose Bierce
Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. - Ambrose Bierce
ABRUPT, adj. Sudden, without ceremony, like the arrival of a cannon- shot and the departure of the soldier whose interests are most affected by it. Dr. Samuel Johnson beautifully said of another author's ideas that they were "concatenated without abruption." - Ambrose Bierce
EXPOSTULATION, n. One of the many methods by which fools prefer to lose their friends. - Ambrose Bierce
INTENTION, n. The mind's sense of the prevalence of one set of influences over another set; an effect whose cause is the imminence, immediate or remote, of the performance of an involuntary act. - Ambrose Bierce
QUOTIENT, n. A number showing how many times a sum of money belonging to one person is contained in the pocket of another -- usually about as many times as it can be got there. - Ambrose Bierce
SATIETY, n. The feeling that one has for the plate after he has eaten its contents, madam. - Ambrose Bierce
DEGRADATION, n. One of the stages of moral and social progress from private station to political preferment. - Ambrose Bierce
PITIFUL, adj. The state of an enemy of opponent after an imaginary encounter with oneself. - Ambrose Bierce
History, n. An account mostly false, of events unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools. - Ambrose Bierce
INFLUENCE, n. In politics, a visionary _quo_ given in exchange for a substantial _quid_. - Ambrose Bierce
COMMENDATION, n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resembles, but do not equal, our own. - Ambrose Bierce
Interpreter: One who enables two persons of different languages to understand each other by repeating to each what it would have been to the interpreter's advantage for the other to have said. - Ambrose Bierce
ADDER, n. A species of snake. So called from its habit of adding funeral outlays to the other expenses of living. - Ambrose Bierce
ARMOR, n. The kind of clothing worn by a man whose tailor is a blacksmith. - Ambrose Bierce
DISTANCE, n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs, and keep. - Ambrose Bierce
IMPOSTOR n. A rival aspirant to public honors. - Ambrose Bierce
Reverence: the spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man. - Ambrose Bierce
To be positive: To be mistaken at the top of one's voice. - Ambrose Bierce
Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. - Ambrose Bierce
RIME, n. Agreeing sounds in the terminals of verse, mostly bad. The verses themselves, as distinguished from prose, mostly dull. Usually (and wickedly) spelled "rhyme." - Ambrose Bierce
IMMIGRANT, n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another. - Ambrose Bierce
OATH, n. In law, a solemn appeal to the Deity, made binding upon the conscience by a penalty for perjury. - Ambrose Bierce
HURRY, n. The dispatch of bunglers. - Ambrose Bierce
FIDELITY, n. A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed. - Ambrose Bierce
HEMP, n. A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of neckwear which is frequently put on after public speaking in the open air and prevents the wearer from taking cold. - Ambrose Bierce
LEGACY, n. A gift from one who is legging it out of this vale of tears. - Ambrose Bierce
CURIOSITY, n. An objectionable quality of the female mind. The desire to know whether or not a woman is cursed with curiosity is one of the most active and insatiable passions of the masculine soul. - Ambrose Bierce
BILLINGSGATE, n. The invective of an opponent. - Ambrose Bierce
CHILDHOOD, n. The period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth -- two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age. - Ambrose Bierce
HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homocide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another -- the classification is for advantage of the lawyers. - Ambrose Bierce
IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity. - Ambrose Bierce
MORE, adj. The comparative degree of too much. - Ambrose Bierce
SAUCE, n. The one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment. A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one sauce has only nine hundred and ninety-nine. For every sauce invented and accepted a vice is renounced and forgiven. - Ambrose Bierce
UXORIOUSNESS, n. A perverted affection that has strayed to one's own wife. - Ambrose Bierce
AUSTRALIA, n. A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island. - Ambrose Bierce
REVEILLE, n. A signal to sleeping soldiers to dream of battlefields no more, but get up and have their blue noses counted. In the American army it is ingeniously called "rev-e-lee," and to that pronunciation our countrymen have pledged their lives, their misfortunes and their sacred dishonor. - Ambrose Bierce
WITTICISM, n. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted, and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a "joke." - Ambrose Bierce
In the presence of death reason and philosophy are silent - Ambrose Bierce
PLEBISCITE, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign. - Ambrose Bierce
ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction. - Ambrose Bierce
KISS, n. A word invented by the poets as a rhyme for "bliss." It is supposed to signify, in a general way, some kind of rite or ceremony appertaining to a good understanding; but the manner of its performance is unknown to this lexicographer. - Ambrose Bierce
DUCK-BILL, n. Your account at your restaurant during the canvas-back season. - Ambrose Bierce
IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership. - Ambrose Bierce
MONSIGNOR, n. A high ecclesiastical title, of which the Founder of our religion overlooked the advantages. - Ambrose Bierce
OUTDO, v.t. To make an enemy. - Ambrose Bierce
PRIVATE, n. A military gentleman with a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack and an impediment in his hope. - Ambrose Bierce
TRUCE, n. Friendship. - Ambrose Bierce
EPITAPH, n. An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect. Following is a touching example: Here lie the bones of Parson Platt, Wise, pious, humble and all that, Who showed us life as all should live it; Let that be said -- and God forgive it! - Ambrose Bierce
GARTHER, n. An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country. - Ambrose Bierce
KILL, v.t. To create a vacancy without nominating a successor. - Ambrose Bierce
METROPOLIS, n. A stronghold of provincialism. - Ambrose Bierce
NOMINATE, v. To designate for the heaviest political assessment. To put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting of the opposition. - Ambrose Bierce
OPIATE, n. An unlocked door in the prison of Identity. It leads into the jail yard. - Ambrose Bierce
PAINTING, n. The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic. Formerly, painting and sculpture were combined in the same work: the ancients painted their statues. The only present alliance between the two arts is that the modern painter chisels his patrons. - Ambrose Bierce
PICTURE, n. A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome in three. "Behold great Daubert's picture here on view -- Taken from Life." If that description's true, Grant, heavenly Powers, that I be taken, too. Jali Hane - Ambrose Bierce
CLIO, n. One of the nine Muses. Clio's function was to preside over history -- which she did with great dignity, many of the prominent citizens of Athens occupying seats on the platform, the meetings being addressed by Messrs. Xenophon, Herodotus and other popular speakers. - Ambrose Bierce
RHADOMANCER, n. One who uses a divining-rod in prospecting for precious metals in the pocket of a fool. - Ambrose Bierce
CALUMNUS, n. A graduate of the School for Scandal. - Ambrose Bierce
EMANCIPATION, n. A bondman's change from the tyranny of another to the despotism of himself. He was a slave: at word he went and came; His iron collar cut him to the bone. Then Liberty erased his owner's name, Tightened the rivets and inscribed his own. G.J. - Ambrose Bierce
EMOTION, n. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes. - Ambrose Bierce
MANICHEISM, n. The ancient Persian doctrine of an incessant warfare between Good and Evil. When Good gave up the fight the Persians joined the victorious Opposition. - Ambrose Bierce
PIETY, n. Reverence for the Supreme Being, based upon His supposed resemblance to man. The pig is taught by sermons and epistles To think the God of Swine has snout and bristles. Judibras - Ambrose Bierce
RATTLESNAKE, n. Our prostrate brother, _Homo ventrambulans_. - Ambrose Bierce
RECONSIDER, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made. - Ambrose Bierce
ARTLESSNESS, n. A certain engaging quality to which women attain by long study and severe practice upon the admiring male, who is pleased to fancy it resembles the candid simplicity of his young. - Ambrose Bierce
ABATIS, n. Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside. - Ambrose Bierce
ADAMANT, n. A mineral frequently found beneath a corset. Soluble in solicitate of gold. - Ambrose Bierce
CONDOLE, v.i. To show that bereavement is a smaller evil than sympathy. - Ambrose Bierce
DIGESTION, n. The conversion of victuals into virtues. When the process is imperfect, vices are evolved instead -- a circumstance from which that wicked writer, Dr. Jeremiah Blenn, infers that the ladies are the greater sufferers from dyspepsia. - Ambrose Bierce
MESMERISM, n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner. - Ambrose Bierce
MILLENNIUM, n. The period of a thousand years when the lid is to be screwed down, with all reformers on the under side. - Ambrose Bierce
PRICE, n. Value, plus a reasonable sum for the wear and tear of conscience in demanding it. - Ambrose Bierce
Admiration, n.: Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves. - Ambrose Bierce
RITUALISM, n. A Dutch Garden of God where He may walk in rectilinear freedom, keeping off the grass. - Ambrose Bierce
POLICE, n. An armed force for protection and participation. - Ambrose Bierce
RECRUIT, n. A person distinguishable from a civilian by his uniform and from a soldier by his gait. Fresh from the farm or factory or street, His marching, in pursuit or in retreat, Were an impressive martial spectacle Except for two impediments -- his feet. Thompson Johnson - Ambrose Bierce
HEBREW, n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior creation. - Ambrose Bierce
ALONE, adj. In bad company. In contact, lo! the flint and steel, By spark and flame, the thought reveal That he the metal, she the stone, Had cherished secretly alone. Booley Fito - Ambrose Bierce
IMMORTALITY, n. A toy which people cry for, And on their knees apply for, Dispute, contend and lie for, And if allowed Would be right proud Eternally to die for. G.J. - Ambrose Bierce
INJURY, n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight. - Ambrose Bierce
NOBLEMAN, n. Nature's provision for wealthy American minds ambitious to incur social distinction and suffer high life. - Ambrose Bierce
PIRACY, n. Commerce without its folly-swaddles, just as God made it. - Ambrose Bierce
PREJUDICE, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support. - Ambrose Bierce
RITE, n. A religious or semi-religious ceremony fixed by law, precept or custom, with the essential oil of sincerity carefully squeezed out of it. - Ambrose Bierce
ILLUMINATI, n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights -- _cunctationes illuminati_. - Ambrose Bierce
OPPOSE, v. To assist with obstructions and objections. How lonely he who thinks to vex With bandinage the Solemn Sex! Of levity, Mere Man, beware; None but the Grave deserve the Unfair. Percy P. Orminder - Ambrose Bierce
PERORATION, n. The explosion of an oratorical rocket. It dazzles, but to an observer having the wrong kind of nose its most conspicuous peculiarity is the smell of the several kinds of powder used in preparing it. - Ambrose Bierce
CONSUL, n. In American politics, a person who having failed to secure and office from the people is given one by the Administration on condition that he leave the country. - Ambrose Bierce
CONGRESS, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws. - Ambrose Bierce
PAIN, n. An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely mental, caused by the good fortune of another. - Ambrose Bierce
WHEAT, n. A cereal from which a tolerably good whisky can with some difficulty be made, and which is used also for bread. The French are said to eat more bread _per capita_ of population than any other people, which is natural, for only they know how to make the stuff palatable. - Ambrose Bierce
Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion. - Ambrose Bierce
AMNESTY, n. The state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish. - Ambrose Bierce
ALLEGIANCE, n. This thing Allegiance, as I suppose, Is a ring fitted in the subject's nose, Whereby that organ is kept rightly pointed To smell the sweetness of the Lord's anointed. G.J. - Ambrose Bierce
LINEN, n. "A kind of cloth the making of which, when made of hemp, entails a great waste of hemp." -- Calcraft the Hangman. - Ambrose Bierce
NON-COMBATANT, n. A dead Quaker. - Ambrose Bierce
PLAUDITS, n. Coins with which the populace pays those who tickle and devour it. - Ambrose Bierce
POSTERITY, n. An appellate court which reverses the judgment of a popular author's contemporaries, the appellant being his obscure competitor. - Ambrose Bierce
PRUDE, n. A bawd hiding behind the back of her demeanor. - Ambrose Bierce
ALIEN, n. An American sovereign in his probationary state. - Ambrose Bierce
GOOD, adj. Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer. Alive, sir, to the advantages of letting him alone. - Ambrose Bierce
INDISCRETION, n. The guilt of woman. - Ambrose Bierce
PRELATE, n. A church officer having a superior degree of holiness and a fat preferment. One of Heaven's aristocracy. A gentleman of God. - Ambrose Bierce
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.) - Ambrose Bierce
DARING, n. One of the most conspicuous qualities of a man in security. - Ambrose Bierce
PANTHEISM, n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything. - Ambrose Bierce
ADVICE, n. The smallest current coin. "The man was in such deep distress," Said Tom, "that I could do no less Than give him good advice." Said Jim: "If less could have been done for him I know you well enough, my son, To know that's what you would have done." Jebel Jocordy - Ambrose Bierce
INDIGESTION, n. A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind. As the simple Red Man of the western wild put it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force: "Plenty well, no pray; big bellyache, heap God." - Ambrose Bierce
LAWFUL, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction. - Ambrose Bierce
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. - Ambrose Bierce
DIAPHRAGM, n. A muscular partition separating disorders of the chest from disorders of the bowels. - Ambrose Bierce
MISERICORDE, n. A dagger which in mediaeval warfare was used by the foot soldier to remind an unhorsed knight that he was mortal. - Ambrose Bierce
Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen. - Ambrose Bierce
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum -- I think I think, therefore, I think I am. - Ambrose Bierce
BAROMETER, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having. - Ambrose Bierce
LOGANIMITY, n. The disposition to endure injury with meek forbearance while maturing a plan of revenge. - Ambrose Bierce
GRAPESHOT, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism. - Ambrose Bierce
APPETITE, n. An instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a solution to the labor question. - Ambrose Bierce
COURT FOOL, n. The plaintiff. - Ambrose Bierce
LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law. - Ambrose Bierce
MAMMALIA, n.pl. A family of vertebrate animals whose females in a state of nature suckle their young, but when civilized and enlightened put them out to nurse, or use the bottle. - Ambrose Bierce
OBSTINATE, adj. Inaccessible to the truth as it is manifest in the splendor and stress of our advocacy. The popular type and exponent of obstinacy is the mule, a most intelligent animal. - Ambrose Bierce
OYSTER, n. A slimy, gobby shellfish which civilization gives men the hardihood to eat without removing its entrails! The shells are sometimes given to the poor. - Ambrose Bierce
PLAN, v.t. To bother about the best method of accomplishing an accidental result. - Ambrose Bierce
ACCIDENT, n. An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws. - Ambrose Bierce
GLUTTON, n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia. - Ambrose Bierce
RIBALDRY, n. Censorious language by another concerning oneself. - Ambrose Bierce
CONSOLATION, n. The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate than yourself. - Ambrose Bierce
ME, pro. The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three. - Ambrose Bierce
MINE, adj. Belonging to me if I can hold or seize it. - Ambrose Bierce
MINSTREL, adj. Formerly a poet, singer or musician; now a nigger with a color less than skin deep and a humor more than flesh and blood can bear. - Ambrose Bierce
MOUTH, n. In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart. - Ambrose Bierce
PIG, n. An animal (_Porcus omnivorus_) closely allied to the human race by the splendor and vivacity of its appetite, which, however, is inferior in scope, for it sticks at pig. - Ambrose Bierce
RACK, n. An argumentative implement formerly much used in persuading devotees of a false faith to embrace the living truth. As a call to the unconverted the rack never had any particular efficacy, and is now held in light popular esteem. - Ambrose Bierce
YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments. - Ambrose Bierce
FICKLENESS, n. The iterated satiety of an enterprising affection. - Ambrose Bierce
MERCHANT, n. One engaged in a commercial pursuit. A commercial pursuit is one in which the thing pursued is a dollar. - Ambrose Bierce
PERIPATETIC, adj. Walking about. Relating to the philosophy of Aristotle, who, while expounding it, moved from place to place in order to avoid his pupil's objections. A needless precaution -- they knew no more of the matter than he. - Ambrose Bierce
PHYSICIAN, n. One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. - Ambrose Bierce
POSITIVISM, n. A philosophy that denies our knowledge of the Real and affirms our ignorance of the Apparent. Its longest exponent is Comte, its broadest Mill and its thickest Spencer. - Ambrose Bierce
PYRRHONISM, n. An ancient philosophy, named for its inventor. It consisted of an absolute disbelief in everything but Pyrrhonism. Its modern professors have added that. - Ambrose Bierce
RADICALISM, n. The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day. - Ambrose Bierce
The ocean is a body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills. - Ambrose Bierce
ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught. - Ambrose Bierce
CLARIONET, n. An instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments that are worse than a clarionet -- two clarionets. - Ambrose Bierce
WIDOW, n. A pathetic figure that the Christian world has agreed to take humorously, although Christ's tenderness towards widows was one of the most marked features of his character. - Ambrose Bierce
Experience, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced. - Ambrose Bierce
Marriage: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two. - Ambrose Bierce
ABSCOND, v.i. To "move in a mysterious way," commonly with the property of another. Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; The trees are leaving and cashiers abscond. Phela Orm - Ambrose Bierce
ADHERENT, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get. - Ambrose Bierce
AGITATOR, n. A statesman who shakes the fruit trees of his neighbors -- to dislodge the worms. - Ambrose Bierce
CANONICALS, n. The motley worm by Jesters of the Court of Heaven. - Ambrose Bierce
Opera, n. A play representing life in another world whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures, and no postures but attitudes. - Ambrose Bierce
ACTUALLY, adv. Perhaps; possibly. - Ambrose Bierce
CORSAIR, n. A politician of the seas. - Ambrose Bierce
DISCRIMINATE, v.i. To note the particulars in which one person or thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another. - Ambrose Bierce
MAGIC, n. An art of converting superstition into coin. There are other arts serving the same high purpose, but the discreet lexicographer does not name them. - Ambrose Bierce
MAMMON, n. The god of the world's leading religion. The chief temple is in the holy city of New York. He swore that all other religions were gammon, And wore out his knees in the worship of Mammon. Jared Oopf - Ambrose Bierce
PLATONIC, adj. Pertaining to the philosophy of Socrates. Platonic Love is a fool's name for the affection between a disability and a frost. - Ambrose Bierce
Self-denial is indulgence of a propensity to forego. - Ambrose Bierce
APHORISM, n. Predigested wisdom. The flabby wine-skin of his brain Yields to some pathologic strain, And voids from its unstored abysm The driblet of an aphorism. "The Mad Philosopher," 1697 - Ambrose Bierce
EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors. - Ambrose Bierce
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. - Ambrose Bierce
PRE-EXISTENCE, n. An unnoted factor in creation. - Ambrose Bierce
Mad, adj: Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence. - Ambrose Bierce
APOLOGIZE, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offence. - Ambrose Bierce
COMFORT, n. A state of mind produced by contemplation of a neighbor's uneasiness. - Ambrose Bierce
PRESCRIPTION, n. A physician's guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient. - Ambrose Bierce
RED-SKIN, n. A North American Indian, whose skin is not red -- at least not on the outside. - Ambrose Bierce
AGE, n. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the enterprise to commit. - Ambrose Bierce
CONSULT, v.i. To seek another's approval of a course of action already decided on. - Ambrose Bierce
DISOBEY, v.t. To celebrate with an appropriate ceremony the maturity of a command. His right to govern me is clear as day, My duty manifest to disobey; And if that fit observance e'er I shut May I and duty be alike undone. Israfel Brown - Ambrose Bierce
GRAMMAR, n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction. - Ambrose Bierce
NONSENSE, n. The objections that are urged against this excellent dictionary. - Ambrose Bierce
PROPERTY, n. Any material thing, having no particular value, that may be held by A against the cupidity of B. Whatever gratifies the passion for possession in one and disappoints it in all others. The object of man's brief rapacity and long indifference. - Ambrose Bierce
RANK, n. Relative elevation in the scale of human worth. He held at court a rank so high That other noblemen asked why. "Because," 'twas answered, "others lack His skill to scratch the royal back." Aramis Jukes - Ambrose Bierce
Dentist, n.: A Prestidigitator who, putting metal in one's mouth, pulls coins out of one's pockets. - Ambrose Bierce
AFFLICTION, n. An acclimatizing process preparing the soul for another and bitter world. - Ambrose Bierce
Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math. - Ambrose Bierce
GENEROUS, adj. Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest. - Ambrose Bierce
PEDIGREE, n. The known part of the route from an arboreal ancestor with a swim bladder to an urban descendant with a cigarette. - Ambrose Bierce
RESTITUTOR, n. Benefactor; philanthropist. - Ambrose Bierce
ERUDITION, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull. So wide his erudition's mighty span, He knew Creation's origin and plan And only came by accident to grief -- He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief. Romach Pute - Ambrose Bierce
PLAGIARISM, n. A literary coincidence compounded of a discreditable priority and an honorable subsequence. - Ambrose Bierce
PREDILECTION, n. The preparatory stage of disillusion. - Ambrose Bierce
VIRTUES, n.pl. Certain abstentions. - Ambrose Bierce
BASTINADO, n. The act of walking on wood without exertion. - Ambrose Bierce
SARCOPHAGUS, n. Among the Greeks a coffin which being made of a certain kind of carnivorous stone, had the peculiar property of devouring the body placed in it. The sarcophagus known to modern obsequiographers is commonly a product of the carpenter's art. - Ambrose Bierce
JEWS-HARP, n. An unmusical instrument, played by holding it fast with the teeth and trying to brush it away with the finger. - Ambrose Bierce
LAST, n. A shoemaker's implement, named by a frowning Providence as opportunity to the maker of puns. Ah, punster, would my lot were cast, Where the cobbler is unknown, So that I might forget his last And hear your own. Gargo Repsky - Ambrose Bierce
MAYONNAISE, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion. - Ambrose Bierce
MONARCHICAL GOVERNMENT, n. Government. - Ambrose Bierce
MONEY, n. A blessing that is of no advantage to us excepting when we part with it. An evidence of culture and a passport to polite society. Supportable property. - Ambrose Bierce
RAZOR, n. An instrument used by the Caucasian to enhance his beauty, by the Mongolian to make a guy of himself, and by the Afro-American to affirm his worth. - Ambrose Bierce
REASON, n. Propensitate of prejudice. - Ambrose Bierce
DIAGNOSIS, n. A physician's forecast of the disease by the patient's pulse and purse. - Ambrose Bierce
God alone knows the future, but only an historian can alter the past. - Ambrose Bierce
RUBBISH, n. Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions lying due south from Boreaplas. - Ambrose Bierce
ENTERTAINMENT, n. Any kind of amusement whose inroads stop short of death by injection. - Ambrose Bierce
PHOTOGRAPH, n. A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. It is a little better than the work of an Apache, but not quite so good as that of a Cheyenne. - Ambrose Bierce
RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to wher we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition. - Ambrose Bierce
DEBAUCHEE, n. One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to overtake it. - Ambrose Bierce
DANGER, n. A savage beast which, when it sleeps, Man girds at and despises, But takes himself away by leaps And bounds when it arises. Ambat Delaso - Ambrose Bierce
IMPUNITY, n. Wealth. - Ambrose Bierce
KEEP, v.t. He willed away his whole estate, And then in death he fell asleep, Murmuring: "Well, at any rate, My name unblemished I shall keep." But when upon the tomb 'twas wrought Whose was it? -- for the dead keep naught. Durang Gophel Arn - Ambrose Bierce
PLAGUE, n. In ancient times a general punishment of the innocent for admonition of their ruler, as in the familiar instance of Pharaoh the Immune. The plague as we of to-day have the happiness to know it is merely Nature's fortuitous manifestation of her purposeless objectionableness. - Ambrose Bierce
QUOTATION, n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated. Intent on making his quotation truer, He sought the page infallible of Brewer, Then made a solemn vow that we would be Condemned eternally. Ah, me, ah, me! Stumpo Gaker - Ambrose Bierce
CURSE, v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance. - Ambrose Bierce
MANES, n. The immortal parts of dead Greeks and Romans. They were in a state of dull discomfort until the bodies from which they had exhaled were buried and burned; and they seem not to have been particularly happy afterward. - Ambrose Bierce
PLOW, n. An implement that cries aloud for hands accustomed to the pen. - Ambrose Bierce
CARNIVOROUS, adj. Addicted to the cruelty of devouring the timorous vegetarian, his heirs and assigns. - Ambrose Bierce
FORGETFULNESS, n. A gift of God bestowed upon doctors in compensation for their destitution of conscience. - Ambrose Bierce
PROPHECY, n. The art and practice of selling one's credibility for future delivery. - Ambrose Bierce
BLACKGUARD, n. A man whose qualities, prepared for display like a box of berries in a market -- the fine ones on top -- have been opened on the wrong side. An inverted gentleman. - Ambrose Bierce
LAZINESS, n. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree. - Ambrose Bierce
PHILANTHROPIST, n. A rich (and usually bald) old gentleman who has trained himself to grin while his conscience is picking his pocket. - Ambrose Bierce
PROVIDENTIAL, adj. Unexpectedly and conspicuously beneficial to the person so describing it. - Ambrose Bierce
RESTITUTIONS, n. The founding or endowing of universities and public libraries by gift or bequest. - Ambrose Bierce
SCRIBBLER, n. A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to one's own. - Ambrose Bierce
SELFISH, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others. - Ambrose Bierce
I think I think, therefore, I think I am. - Ambrose Bierce
INJUSTICE, n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the back. - Ambrose Bierce
Lawsuit n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage. - Ambrose Bierce
HARMONISTS, n. A sect of Protestants, now extinct, who came from Europe in the beginning of the last century and were distinguished for the bitterness of their internal controversies and dissensions. - Ambrose Bierce
PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first. - Ambrose Bierce
PROOF, n. Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two credible witnesses as opposed to that of only one. - Ambrose Bierce
CORPORAL, n. A man who occupies the lowest rung of the military ladder. Fiercely the battle raged and, sad to tell, Our corporal heroically fell! Fame from her height looked down upon the brawl And said: "He hadn't very far to fall." Giacomo Smith - Ambrose Bierce
EJECTION, n. An approved remedy for the disease of garrulity. It is also much used in cases of extreme poverty. - Ambrose Bierce
ENOUGH, pro. All there is in the world if you like it. Enough is as good as a feast -- for that matter Enougher's as good as a feast for the platter. Arbely C. Strunk - Ambrose Bierce
EXISTENCE, n. A transient, horrible, fantastic dream, Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem: From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge Of our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!" - Ambrose Bierce
MALEFACTOR, n. The chief factor in the progress of the human race. - Ambrose Bierce
SALAMANDER, n. Originally a reptile inhabiting fire; later, an anthropomorphous immortal, but still a pyrophile. Salamanders are now believed to be extinct, the last one of which we have an account having been seen in Carcassonne by the Abbe Belloc, who exorcised it with a bucket of holy water. - Ambrose Bierce
Childhood, n. The period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth - two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age. - Ambrose Bierce
CAMEL, n. A quadruped (the _Splaypes humpidorsus_) of great value to the show business. There are two kinds of camels -- the camel proper and the camel improper. It is the latter that is always exhibited. - Ambrose Bierce
DEPENDENT, adj. Reliant upon another's generosity for the support which you are not in a position to exact from his fears. - Ambrose Bierce
ENVELOPE, n. The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter. - Ambrose Bierce
MARTYR, n. One who moves along the line of least reluctance to a desired death. - Ambrose Bierce
NEGRO, n. The _piece de resistance_ in the American political problem. Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to build their equation thus: "Let n = the white man." This, however, appears to give an unsatisfactory solution. - Ambrose Bierce
PLUNDER, v. To take the property of another without observing the decent and customary reticences of theft. To effect a change of ownership with the candid concomitance of a brass band. To wrest the wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanishing opportunity. - Ambrose Bierce
POLITICIAN, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When we wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive. - Ambrose Bierce
ANOINT, v.t. To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery. As sovereigns are anointed by the priesthood, So pigs to lead the populace are greased good. Judibras - Ambrose Bierce
ADAGE, n. Boned wisdom for weak teeth. - Ambrose Bierce
ADMIRAL, n. That part of a war-ship which does the talking while the figure-head does the thinking. - Ambrose Bierce
HYPOCHONDRIASIS, n. Depression of one's own spirits. Some heaps of trash upon a vacant lot Where long the village rubbish had been shot Displayed a sign among the stuff and stumps -- "Hypochondriasis." It meant The Dumps. Bogul S. Purvy - Ambrose Bierce
MOUSQUETAIRE, n. A long glove covering a part of the arm. Worn in New Jersey. But "mousquetaire" is a might poor way to spell muskeeter. - Ambrose Bierce
There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know. - Ambrose Bierce
ACKNOWLEDGE, v.t. To confess. Acknowledgement of one another's faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth. - Ambrose Bierce
FLAG, n. A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees and vacant lots in London -- "Rubbish may be shot here." - Ambrose Bierce
POCKET, n. The cradle of motive and the grave of conscience. In woman this organ is lacking; so she acts without motive, and her conscience, denied burial, remains ever alive, confessing the sins of others. - Ambrose Bierce
TRUST, n. In American politics, a large corporation composed in greater part of thrifty working men, widows of small means, orphans in the care of guardians and the courts, with many similar malefactors and public enemies. - Ambrose Bierce
Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic. - Ambrose Bierce
HUMANITY, n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets. - Ambrose Bierce
NOISE, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization. - Ambrose Bierce
PRIMATE, n. The head of a church, especially a State church supported by involuntary contributions. The Primate of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury, an amiable old gentleman, who occupies Lambeth Palace when living and Westminster Abbey when dead. He is commonly dead. - Ambrose Bierce
ROSTRUM, n. In Latin, the beak of a bird or the prow of a ship. In America, a place from which a candidate for office energetically expounds the wisdom, virtue and power of the rabble. - Ambrose Bierce
RUSSIAN, n. A person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul. A Tartar Emetic. - Ambrose Bierce
VOTE, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country. - Ambrose Bierce
CONFIDANT, CONFIDANTE, n. One entrusted by A with the secrets of B, confided by _him_ to C. - Ambrose Bierce
PUSH, n. One of the two things mainly conducive to success, especially in politics. The other is Pull. - Ambrose Bierce
Saint, noun. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce
War is God's way of teaching Americans geography. - Ambrose Bierce
HOMOEOPATHIST, n. The humorist of the medical profession. - Ambrose Bierce
DENTIST, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket. - Ambrose Bierce
IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world. - Ambrose Bierce
KINDNESS, n. A brief preface to ten volumes of exaction. - Ambrose Bierce
LECTURER, n. One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience. - Ambrose Bierce
TRUTH, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing with increasing activity to the end of time. - Ambrose Bierce
Acquaintance, n. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. - Ambrose Bierce
ARISTOCRACY, n. Government by the best men. (In this sense the word is obsolete; so is that kind of government.) Fellows that wear downy hats and clean shirts -- guilty of education and suspected of bank accounts. - Ambrose Bierce
BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues. - Ambrose Bierce
FOREFINGER, n. The finger commonly used in pointing out two malefactors. - Ambrose Bierce
LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones. - Ambrose Bierce
MINOR, adj. Less objectionable. - Ambrose Bierce
PROOF-READER, n. A malefactor who atones for making your writing nonsense by permitting the compositor to make it unintelligible. - Ambrose Bierce
REAR, n. In American military matters, that exposed part of the army that is nearest to Congress. - Ambrose Bierce
REFERENDUM, n. A law for submission of proposed legislation to a popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion. - Ambrose Bierce
BACK, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity. - Ambrose Bierce
WIT, n. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out. - Ambrose Bierce
WEDDING, n. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable. - Ambrose Bierce
DAY, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. This period is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day improper -- the former devoted to sins of business, the latter consecrated to the other sort. These two kinds of social activity overlap. - Ambrose Bierce
HARANGUE, n. A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harrangue- outang. - Ambrose Bierce
MACE, n. A staff of office signifying authority. Its form, that of a heavy club, indicates its original purpose and use in dissuading from dissent. - Ambrose Bierce
VITUPERATION, n. Saite, as understood by dunces and all such as suffer from an impediment in their wit. - Ambrose Bierce
ABORIGINIES, n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize. - Ambrose Bierce
BRUTE, n. See HUSBAND. - Ambrose Bierce
COMPROMISE, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due. - Ambrose Bierce
HERMIT, n. A person whose vices and follies are not sociable. - Ambrose Bierce
PASTIME, n. A device for promoting dejection. Gentle exercise for intellectual debility. - Ambrose Bierce
POLYGAMY, n. A house of atonement, or expiatory chapel, fitted with several stools of repentance, as distinguished from monogamy, which has but one. - Ambrose Bierce
REFLECTION, n. An action of the mind whereby we obtain a clearer view of our relation to the things of yesterday and are able to avoid the perils that we shall not again encounter. - Ambrose Bierce
BATTLE, n. A method of untying with the teeth of a political knot that would not yield to the tongue. - Ambrose Bierce
AUCTIONEER, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue. - Ambrose Bierce
ORTHODOX, n. An ox wearing the popular religious joke. - Ambrose Bierce
PITY, n. A failing sense of exemption, inspired by contrast. - Ambrose Bierce
TEETOTALER, n. One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally. - Ambrose Bierce
History An account mostly false, of events unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools. - Ambrose Bierce
ANTIPATHY, n. The sentiment inspired by one's friend's friend. - Ambrose Bierce
JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service. - Ambrose Bierce
MERCY, n. An attribute beloved of detected offenders. - Ambrose Bierce
OBLIVION, n. The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fame's eternal dumping ground. Cold storage for high hopes. A place where ambitious authors meet their works without pride and their betters without envy. A dormitory without an alarm clock. - Ambrose Bierce
SYLLOGISM, n. A logical formula consisting of a major and a minor assumption and an inconsequent. (See LOGIC.) - Ambrose Bierce
DEAD, adj. Done with the work of breathing; done With all the world; the mad race run Though to the end; the golden goal Attained and found to be a hole! Squatol Johnes - Ambrose Bierce
ARDOR, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge. - Ambrose Bierce
PRESIDENCY, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics. - Ambrose Bierce
RECREATION, n. A particular kind of dejection to relieve a general fatigue. - Ambrose Bierce
Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion. - Ambrose Bierce
CUI BONO? [Latin] What good would that do _me_? - Ambrose Bierce
GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own. - Ambrose Bierce
INCOMPATIBILITY, n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination. Incompatibility may, however, consist of a meek-eyed matron living just around the corner. It has even been known to wear a moustache. - Ambrose Bierce
OVEREAT, v. To dine. Hail, Gastronome, Apostle of Excess, Well skilled to overeat without distress! Thy great invention, the unfatal feast, Shows Man's superiority to Beast. John Boop - Ambrose Bierce
REFORM, v. A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation. - Ambrose Bierce
Lawyer, n. One skilled in the circumvention of the law. - Ambrose Bierce
ARCHITECT, n. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money. - Ambrose Bierce
HARBOR, n. A place where ships taking shelter from stores are exposed to the fury of the customs. - Ambrose Bierce
HOUSELESS, adj. Having paid all taxes on household goods. - Ambrose Bierce
LONGEVITY, n. Uncommon extension of the fear of death. - Ambrose Bierce
NOMINEE, n. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public office. - Ambrose Bierce
PATIENCE, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue. - Ambrose Bierce
PATRIOT, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors. - Ambrose Bierce
Politeness, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy. - Ambrose Bierce
Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others. - Ambrose Bierce
MAJESTY, n. The state and title of a king. Regarded with a just contempt by the Most Eminent Grand Masters, Grand Chancellors, Great Incohonees and Imperial Potentates of the ancient and honorable orders of republican America. - Ambrose Bierce
OTHERWISE, adv. No better. - Ambrose Bierce
QUEEN, n. A woman by whom the realm is ruled when there is a king, and through whom it is ruled when there is not. - Ambrose Bierce
HEARSE, n. Death's baby-carriage. - Ambrose Bierce
TALK, v.t. To commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an impulse without purpose. - Ambrose Bierce
Reporter: A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words. - Ambrose Bierce
INDIFFERENT, adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things. "You tiresome man!" cried Indolentio's wife, "You've grown indifferent to all in life." "Indifferent?" he drawled with a slow smile; "I would be, dear, but it is not worth while." Apuleius M. Gokul - Ambrose Bierce
LANGUAGE, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure. - Ambrose Bierce
LITIGATION, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage. - Ambrose Bierce
REPRESENTATIVE, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next. - Ambrose Bierce
RESIDENT, adj. Unable to leave. - Ambrose Bierce
BACKBITE, v.t. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you. - Ambrose Bierce
CREDITOR, n. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions. - Ambrose Bierce
HAND, n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody's pocket. - Ambrose Bierce
HASH, x. There is no definition for this word -- nobody knows what hash is. - Ambrose Bierce
HOURI, n. A comely female inhabiting the Mohammedan Paradise to make things cheery for the good Mussulman, whose belief in her existence marks a noble discontent with his earthly spouse, whom he denies a soul. By that good lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient esteem. - Ambrose Bierce
MATERIAL, adj. Having an actual existence, as distinguished from an imaginary one. Important. Material things I know, or fell, or see; All else is immaterial to me. Jamrach Holobom - Ambrose Bierce
PLEONASM, n. An army of words escorting a corporal of thought. - Ambrose Bierce
USAGE, n. The First Person of the literary Trinity, the Second and Third being Custom and Conventionality. Imbued with a decent reverence for this Holy Triad an industrious writer may hope to produce books that will live as long as the fashion. - Ambrose Bierce
ADMONITION, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning. Consigned by way of admonition, His soul forever to perdition. Judibras - Ambrose Bierce
FLESH, n. The Second Person of the secular Trinity. - Ambrose Bierce
HYBRID, n. A pooled issue. - Ambrose Bierce
REALITY, n. The dream of a mad philosopher. That which would remain in the cupel if one should assay a phantom. The nucleus of a vacuum. - Ambrose Bierce
SIREN, n. One of several musical prodigies famous for a vain attempt to dissuade Odysseus from a life on the ocean wave. Figuratively, any lady of splendid promise, dissembled purpose and disappointing performance. - Ambrose Bierce
The hardest tumble a man can take is to fall over his own bluff. - Ambrose Bierce
EXTINCTION, n. The raw material out of which theology created the future state. - Ambrose Bierce
UNITARIAN, n. One who denies the divinity of a Trinitarian. - Ambrose Bierce
CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else. An old wine-bibber having been smashed in a railway collision, some wine was pouted on his lips to revive him. "Pauillac, 1873," he murmured and died. - Ambrose Bierce
DICTATOR, n. The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy. - Ambrose Bierce
ECCENTRICITY, n. A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity. - Ambrose Bierce
FAMOUS, adj. Conspicuously miserable. Done to a turn on the iron, behold Him who to be famous aspired. Content? Well, his grill has a plating of gold, And his twistings are greatly admired. Hassan Brubuddy - Ambrose Bierce
SCRIPTURES, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based. - Ambrose Bierce
TAKE, v.t. To acquire, frequently by force but preferably by stealth. - Ambrose Bierce
CONVERSATION, n. A fair to the display of the minor mental commodities, each exhibitor being too intent upon the arrangement of his own wares to observe those of his neighbor. - Ambrose Bierce
YANKEE, n. In Europe, an American. In the Northern States of our Union, a New Englander. In the Southern States the word is unknown. (See DAMNYANK.) - Ambrose Bierce
PORTUGUESE, n.pl. A species of geese indigenous to Portugal. They are mostly without feathers and imperfectly edible, even when stuffed with garlic. - Ambrose Bierce
BEGGAR, n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends. - Ambrose Bierce
JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping. - Ambrose Bierce
KLEPTOMANIAC, n. A rich thief. - Ambrose Bierce
MAGNET, n. Something acted upon by magnetism. - Ambrose Bierce
MAGPIE, n. A bird whose thievish disposition suggested to someone that it might be taught to talk. - Ambrose Bierce
PALACE, n. A fine and costly residence, particularly that of a great official. The residence of a high dignitary of the Christian Church is called a palace; that of the Founder of his religion was known as a field, or wayside. There is progress. - Ambrose Bierce
PICKANINNY, n. The young of the _Procyanthropos_, or _Americanus dominans_. It is small, black and charged with political fatalities. - Ambrose Bierce
ARSENIC, n. A kind of cosmetic greatly affected by the ladies, whom it greatly affects in turn. "Eat arsenic? Yes, all you get," Consenting, he did speak up; "'Tis better you should eat it, pet, Than put it in my teacup." Joel Huck - Ambrose Bierce
RUM, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers. - Ambrose Bierce
TURKEY, n. A large bird whose flesh when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude. Incidentally, it is pretty good eating. - Ambrose Bierce
POETRY, n. A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the Magazines. - Ambrose Bierce
WITCH, n. (1) Any ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil. - Ambrose Bierce
Love, n - A temporary insanity curable by marriage. - Ambrose Bierce
Beware of the compound adjective, beloved of the tyro and the 'poetess'. - Ambrose Bierce
ELYSIUM, n. An imaginary delightful country which the ancients foolishly believed to be inhabited by the spirits of the good. This ridiculous and mischievous fable was swept off the face of the earth by the early Christians -- may their souls be happy in Heaven! - Ambrose Bierce
MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees. - Ambrose Bierce
RESPIRATOR, n. An apparatus fitted over the nose and mouth of an inhabitant of London, whereby to filter the visible universe in its passage to the lungs. - Ambrose Bierce
ADORE, v.t. To venerate expectantly. - Ambrose Bierce
PRESENT, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope. - Ambrose Bierce
WORSHIP, n. Homo Creator's testimony to the sound construction and fine finish of Deus Creatus. A popular form of abjection, having an element of pride. - Ambrose Bierce
ALDERMAN, n. An ingenious criminal who covers his secret thieving with a pretence of open marauding. - Ambrose Bierce
CREMONA, n. A high-priced violin made in Connecticut. - Ambrose Bierce
IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between sin and punishment. - Ambrose Bierce
MUGWUMP, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt. - Ambrose Bierce
MULATTO, n. A child of two races, ashamed of both. - Ambrose Bierce
PANTALOONS, n. A nether habiliment of the adult civilized male. The garment is tubular and unprovided with hinges at the points of flexion. Supposed to have been invented by a humorist. Called "trousers" by the enlightened and "pants" by the unworthy. - Ambrose Bierce
TWICE, adv. Once too often. - Ambrose Bierce
Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head. - Ambrose Bierce
DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude. - Ambrose Bierce
ENVY, n. Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity. - Ambrose Bierce
LOQUACITY, n. A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk. - Ambrose Bierce
PRISON, n. A place of punishments and rewards. The poet assures us that -- "Stone walls do not a prison make," but a combination of the stone wall, the political parasite and the moral instructor is no garden of sweets. - Ambrose Bierce
RASCAL, n. A fool considered under another aspect. - Ambrose Bierce
Marriage, n.: The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two. - Ambrose Bierce
CAT, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle. This is a dog, This is a cat. This is a frog, This is a rat. Run, dog, mew, cat. Jump, frog, gnaw, rat. Elevenson - Ambrose Bierce
PANDEMONIUM, n. Literally, the Place of All the Demons. Most of them have escaped into politics and finance, and the place is now used as a lecture hall by the Audible Reformer. When disturbed by his voice the ancient echoes clamor appropriate responses most gratifying to his pride of distinction. - Ambrose Bierce
A popular author is one who writes what the people think. Genius invites them to think something else. - Ambrose Bierce
A guerra é a forma de Deus en­si­nar ge­o­grafia aos ame­ri­ca­nos. - Ambrose Bierce
ENTHUSIASM, n. A distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience. Byron, who recovered long enough to call it "entuzy-muzy," had a relapse, which carried him off -- to Missolonghi. - Ambrose Bierce
FRIENDLESS, adj. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense. - Ambrose Bierce
IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices. - Ambrose Bierce
You are not permitted to kill a woman who has wronged you, but nothing forbids you to reflect that she is growing older every minute. - Ambrose Bierce
BACCHUS, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk. Is public worship, then, a sin, That for devotions paid to Bacchus The lictors dare to run us in, And resolutely thump and whack us? Jorace - Ambrose Bierce
PLENIPOTENTIARY, adj. Having full power. A Minister Plenipotentiary is a diplomatist possessing absolute authority on condition that he never exert it. - Ambrose Bierce
You don't have to be stupid to be a Christian, ... but it probably helps. - Ambrose Bierce
TELEPHONE n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance. - Ambrose Bierce
MINISTER, n. An agent of a higher power with a lower responsibility. In diplomacy and officer sent into a foreign country as the visible embodiment of his sovereign's hostility. His principal qualification is a degree of plausible inveracity next below that of an ambassador. - Ambrose Bierce
ICHOR, n. A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of blood. Fair Venus, speared by Diomed, Restrained the raging chief and said: "Behold, rash mortal, whom you've bled -- Your soul's stained white with ichorshed!" Mary Doke - Ambrose Bierce
Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves. - Ambrose Bierce
Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think. - Ambrose Bierce
TYPE, n. Pestilent bits of metal suspected of destroying civilization and enlightenment, despite their obvious agency in this incomparable dictionary. - Ambrose Bierce
LEARNING, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious. - Ambrose Bierce
MYRMIDON, n. A follower of Achilles -- particularly when he didn't lead. - Ambrose Bierce
MAGNIFICENT, adj. Having a grandeur or splendor superior to that to which the spectator is accustomed, as the ears of an ass, to a rabbit, or the glory of a glowworm, to a maggot. - Ambrose Bierce
CIRCUS, n. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool. - Ambrose Bierce
MEANDER, n. To proceed sinuously and aimlessly. The word is the ancient name of a river about one hundred and fifty miles south of Troy, which turned and twisted in the effort to get out of hearing when the Greeks and Trojans boasted of their prowess. - Ambrose Bierce
MEEKNESS, n. Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while. M is for Moses, Who slew the Egyptian. As sweet as a rose is The meekness of Moses. No monument shows his Post-mortem inscription, But M is for Moses Who slew the Egyptian. _The Biographical Alphabet_ - Ambrose Bierce
ALLIANCE, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third. - Ambrose Bierce
DISSEMBLE, v.i. To put a clean shirt upon the character. Let us dissemble. Adam - Ambrose Bierce
MENDACIOUS, adj. Addicted to rhetoric. - Ambrose Bierce
PLEASE, v. To lay the foundation for a superstructure of imposition. - Ambrose Bierce
BAIT, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty. - Ambrose Bierce
CAVILER, n. A critic of our own work. - Ambrose Bierce
REPARATION, n. Satisfaction that is made for a wrong and deducted from the satisfaction felt in committing it. - Ambrose Bierce
ROAD, n. A strip of land along which one may pass from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go. All roads, howsoe'er they diverge, lead to Rome, Whence, thank the good Lord, at least one leads back home. Borey the Bald - Ambrose Bierce
Optimism, n. The doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly. - Ambrose Bierce
Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen. - Ambrose Bierce
R.I.P. A careless abbreviation of _requiescat in pace_, attesting to indolent goodwill to the dead. According to the learned Dr. Drigge, however, the letters originally meant nothing more than _reductus in pulvis_. - Ambrose Bierce
Faith, noun. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel - Ambrose Bierce
APRIL FOOL, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly. - Ambrose Bierce
EUCHARIST, n. A sacred feast of the religious sect of Theophagi. A dispute once unhappily arose among the members of this sect as to what it was that they ate. In this controversy some five hundred thousand have already been slain, and the question is still unsettled. - Ambrose Bierce
EXHORT, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort. - Ambrose Bierce
IMPROVIDENCE, n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues of to-morrow. - Ambrose Bierce
PREROGATIVE, n. A sovereign's right to do wrong. - Ambrose Bierce
REPLICA, n. A reproduction of a work of art, by the artist that made the original. It is so called to distinguish it from a "copy," which is made by another artist. When the two are mae with equal skill the replica is the more valuable, for it is supposed to be more beautiful than it looks. - Ambrose Bierce
WHITE, adj. and n. Black. - Ambrose Bierce
Fork, n. An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth. - Ambrose Bierce
CANNON, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries. - Ambrose Bierce
Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. - Ambrose Bierce
NEPOTISM, n. Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of the party. - Ambrose Bierce
QUILL, n. An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly wielded by an ass. This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting Presence. - Ambrose Bierce
HYENA, n. A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its habit of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead. But the medical student does that. - Ambrose Bierce
RECTOR, n. In the Church of England, the Third Person of the parochial Trinity, the Cruate and the Vicar being the other two. - Ambrose Bierce
Critic, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him. - Ambrose Bierce
DISABUSE, v.t. The present your neighbor with another and better error than the one which he has deemed it advantageous to embrace. - Ambrose Bierce
OBSERVATORY, n. A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses of their predecessors. - Ambrose Bierce
PLAGIARIZE, v. To take the thought or style of another writer whom one has never, never read. - Ambrose Bierce
Optimist, n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white. - Ambrose Bierce
EDIBLE, adj. Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm. - Ambrose Bierce
DELUGE, n. A notable first experiment in baptism which washed away the sins (and sinners) of the world. - Ambrose Bierce
ELECTOR, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice. - Ambrose Bierce
EPAULET, n. An ornamented badge, serving to distinguish a military officer from the enemy -- that is to say, from the officer of lower rank to whom his death would give promotion. - Ambrose Bierce
EULOGY, n. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead. - Ambrose Bierce
FORCE, n. "Force is but might," the teacher said -- "That definition's just." The boy said naught but through instead, Remembering his pounded head: "Force is not might but must!" - Ambrose Bierce
diplomacy, n.: The patriotic art of lying for one's country. - Ambrose Bierce
BLANK-VERSE, n. Unrhymed iambic pentameters -- the most difficult kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind. - Ambrose Bierce
KORAN, n. A book which the Mohammedans foolishly believe to have been written by divine inspiration, but which Christians know to be a wicked imposture, contradictory to the Holy Scriptures. - Ambrose Bierce
PEDESTRIAN, n. The variable (an audible) part of the roadway for an automobile. - Ambrose Bierce
BRANDY, n. A cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the- grave and four parts clarified Satan. Dose, a headful all the time. Brandy is said by Dr. Johnson to be the drink of heroes. Only a hero will venture to drink it. - Ambrose Bierce
HYDRA, n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads. - Ambrose Bierce
MIRACLE, n. An act or event out of the order of nature and unaccountable, as beating a normal hand of four kings and an ace with four aces and a king. - Ambrose Bierce
PHONOGRAPH, n. An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises. - Ambrose Bierce
PIGMY, n. One of a tribe of very small men found by ancient travelers in many parts of the world, but by modern in Central Africa only. The Pigmies are so called to distinguish them from the bulkier Caucasians -- who are Hogmies. - Ambrose Bierce
RANSOM, n. The purchase of that which neither belongs to the seller, nor can belong to the buyer. The most unprofitable of investments. - Ambrose Bierce
REPORTER, n. A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words. "More dear than all my bosom knows, O thou Whose 'lips are sealed' and will not disavow!" So sang the blithe reporter-man as grew Beneath his hand the leg-long "interview." Barson Maith - Ambrose Bierce
In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office. - Ambrose Bierce
DRAGOON, n. A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on horseback. - Ambrose Bierce
NIHILIST, n. A Russian who denies the existence of anything but Tolstoi. The leader of the school is Tolstoi. - Ambrose Bierce
RECOLLECT, v. To recall with additions something not previously known. - Ambrose Bierce
Impiety, noun. Your irreverence toward my deity. - Ambrose Bierce
GOUT, n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient. - Ambrose Bierce
Conservative. noun. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. - Ambrose Bierce
BIGAMY, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy. - Ambrose Bierce
AIM, n. The task we set our wishes to. "Cheer up! Have you no aim in life?" She tenderly inquired. "An aim? Well, no, I haven't, wife; The fact is -- I have fired." G.J. - Ambrose Bierce
APOSTATE, n. A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle. - Ambrose Bierce
INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents. - Ambrose Bierce
SACERDOTALIST, n. One who holds the belief that a clergyman is a priest. Denial of this momentous doctrine is the hardest challenge that is now flung into the teeth of the Episcopalian church by the Neo-Dictionarians. - Ambrose Bierce
UNIVERSALIST, n. One who forgoes the advantage of a Hell for persons of another faith. - Ambrose Bierce
Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. - Ambrose Bierce
INEXPEDIENT, adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests. - Ambrose Bierce
REALLY, adv. Apparently. - Ambrose Bierce
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. - Ambrose Bierce
DATARY, n. A high ecclesiastic official of the Roman Catholic Church, whose important function is to brand the Pope's bulls with the words _Datum Romae_. He enjoys a princely revenue and the friendship of God. - Ambrose Bierce
ADMINISTRATION, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting. - Ambrose Bierce
BOTANY, n. The science of vegetables -- those that are not good to eat, as well as those that are. It deals largely with their flowers, which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color, and ill- smelling. - Ambrose Bierce
ITCH, n. The patriotism of a Scotchman. - Ambrose Bierce
ACCORD, n. Harmony. - Ambrose Bierce
AFRICAN, n. A nigger that votes our way. - Ambrose Bierce
FREEBOOTER, n. A conqueror in a small way of business, whose annexations lack of the sanctifying merit of magnitude. - Ambrose Bierce
LOCK-AND-KEY, n. The distinguishing device of civilization and enlightenment. - Ambrose Bierce
MANNA, n. A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the wilderness. When it was no longer supplied to them they settled down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies of the original occupants. - Ambrose Bierce
OFFENSIVE, adj. Generating disagreeable emotions or sensations, as the advance of an army against its enemy. "Were the enemy's tactics offensive?" the king asked. "I should say so!" replied the unsuccessful general. "The blackguard wouldn't come out of his works!" - Ambrose Bierce
YOKE, n. An implement, madam, to whose Latin name, _jugum_, we owe one of the most illuminating words in our language -- a word that defines the matrimonial situation with precision, point and poignancy. A thousand apologies for withholding it. - Ambrose Bierce
The covers of this book are too far apart. - Ambrose Bierce
Barometer, n.: An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having. - Ambrose Bierce
CANNIBAL, n. A gastronome of the old school who preserves the simple tastes and adheres to the natural diet of the pre-pork period. - Ambrose Bierce
HERS, pron. His. - Ambrose Bierce
MAGNETISM, n. Something acting upon a magnet. The two definitions immediately foregoing are condensed from the works of one thousand eminent scientists, who have illuminated the subject with a great white light, to the inexpressible advancement of human knowledge. - Ambrose Bierce
MEDICINE, n. A stone flung down the Bowery to kill a dog in Broadway. - Ambrose Bierce
OWE, v. To have (and to hold) a debt. The word formerly signified not indebtedness, but possession; it meant "own," and in the minds of debtors there is still a good deal of confusion between assets and liabilities. - Ambrose Bierce
RETALIATION, n. The natural rock upon which is reared the Temple of Law. - Ambrose Bierce
Bride, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her. - Ambrose Bierce
ARRAYED, pp. Drawn up and given an orderly disposition, as a rioter hanged to a lamppost. - Ambrose Bierce
PIANO, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by pressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience. - Ambrose Bierce
PREDICAMENT, n. The wage of consistency. - Ambrose Bierce
RICE-WATER, n. A mystic beverage secretly used by our most popular novelists and poets to regulate the imagination and narcotize the conscience. It is said to be rich in both obtundite and lethargine, and is brewed in a midnight fog by a fat which of the Dismal Swamp. - Ambrose Bierce
CAABA, n. A large stone presented by the archangel Gabriel to the patriarch Abraham, and preserved at Mecca. The patriarch had perhaps asked the archangel for bread. - Ambrose Bierce
ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. --Oliver Cromwell - Ambrose Bierce
ACEPHALOUS, adj. In the surprising condition of the Crusader who absently pulled at his forelock some hours after a Saracen scimitar had, unconsciously to him, passed through his neck, as related by de Joinville. - Ambrose Bierce
HATCHET, n. A young axe, known among Indians as a Thomashawk. "O bury the hatchet, irascible Red, For peace is a blessing," the White Man said. The Savage concurred, and that weapon interred, With imposing rites, in the White Man's head. John Lukkus - Ambrose Bierce
The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling. - Ambrose Bierce
PLEBEIAN, n. An ancient Roman who in the blood of his country stained nothing but his hands. Distinguished from the Patrician, who was a saturated solution. - Ambrose Bierce
PRECIPITATE, adj. Anteprandial. Precipitate in all, this sinner Took action first, and then his dinner. Judibras - Ambrose Bierce
REALISM, n. The art of depicting nature as it is seem by toads. The charm suffusing a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring-worm. - Ambrose Bierce
GORGON, n. The Gorgon was a maiden bold Who turned to stone the Greeks of old That looked upon her awful brow. We dig them out of ruins now, And swear that workmanship so bad Proves all the ancient sculptors mad. - Ambrose Bierce
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. - Ambrose Bierce
RAPACITY, n. Providence without industry. The thrift of power. - Ambrose Bierce
ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him. - Ambrose Bierce
BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other. - Ambrose Bierce
ETHNOLOGY, n. The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists. - Ambrose Bierce
OMEN, n. A sign that something will happen if nothing happens. - Ambrose Bierce
PILLORY, n. A mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction -- prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere virtues and blameless lives. - Ambrose Bierce
PREVARICATOR, n. A liar in the caterpillar estate. - Ambrose Bierce
Politics: "The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." - Ambrose Bierce
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. - Ambrose Bierce
DEFENCELESS, adj. Unable to attack. - Ambrose Bierce
MISCREANT, n. A person of the highest degree of unworth. Etymologically, the word means unbeliever, and its present signification may be regarded as theology's noblest contribution to the development of our language. - Ambrose Bierce
NIRVANA, n. In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable annihilation awarded to the wise, particularly to those wise enough to understand it. - Ambrose Bierce
ONCE, adv. Enough. - Ambrose Bierce
PORTABLE, adj. Exposed to a mutable ownership through vicissitudes of possession. His light estate, if neither he did make it Nor yet its former guardian forsake it, Is portable improperly, I take it. Worgum Slupsky - Ambrose Bierce
REPOSE, v.i. To cease from troubling. - Ambrose Bierce
Diplomacy: The patriotic art of lying for one's country. - Ambrose Bierce
BARRACK, n. A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of which it is their business to deprive others. - Ambrose Bierce
CONVENT, n. A place of retirement for woman who wish for leisure to meditate upon the vice of idleness. - Ambrose Bierce
EXCOMMUNICATION, n. This "excommunication" is a word In speech ecclesiastical oft heard, And means the damning, with bell, book and candle, Some sinner whose opinions are a scandal -- A rite permitting Satan to enslave him Forever, and forbidding Christ to save him. Gat Huckle - Ambrose Bierce
NEIGHBOR, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient. - Ambrose Bierce
OSTRICH, n. A large bird to which (for its sins, doubtless) nature has denied that hinder toe in which so many pious naturalists have seen a conspicuous evidence of design. The absence of a good working pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, the ostrich does not fly. - Ambrose Bierce
PHOENIX, n. The classical prototype of the modern "small hot bird." - Ambrose Bierce
PILGRIM, n. A traveler that is taken seriously. A Pilgrim Father was one who, leaving Europe in 1620 because not permitted to sing psalms through his nose, followed it to Massachusetts, where he could personate God according to the dictates of his conscience. - Ambrose Bierce
acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. - Ambrose Bierce
AFFIANCED, pp. Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain. - Ambrose Bierce
HABEAS CORPUS. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime. - Ambrose Bierce
HIPPOGRIFF, n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, a one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises. - Ambrose Bierce
JOSS-STICKS, n. Small sticks burned by the Chinese in their pagan tomfoolery, in imitation of certain sacred rites of our holy religion. - Ambrose Bierce
LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions. The rising People, hot and out of breath, Roared around the palace: "Liberty or death!" "If death will do," the King said, "let me reign; You'll have, I'm sure, no reason to complain." Martha Braymance - Ambrose Bierce
REASON, v.i. To weight probabilities in the scales of desire. - Ambrose Bierce
Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment. - Ambrose Bierce
Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age. - Ambrose Bierce
GNOSTICS, n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers. - Ambrose Bierce
EFFECT, n. The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order. The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other -- which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog. - Ambrose Bierce
LODGER, n. A less popular name for the Second Person of that delectable newspaper Trinity, the Roomer, the Bedder, and the Mealer. - Ambrose Bierce
RASH, adj. Insensible to the value of our advice. "Now lay your bet with mine, nor let These gamblers take your cash." "Nay, this child makes no bet." "Great snakes! How can you be so rash?" Bootle P. Gish - Ambrose Bierce
ARCHBISHOP, n. An ecclesiastical dignitary one point holier than a bishop. If I were a jolly archbishop, On Fridays I'd eat all the fish up -- Salmon and flounders and smelts; On other days everything else. Jodo Rem - Ambrose Bierce
HISTORIAN, n. A broad-gauge gossip. - Ambrose Bierce
IMBECILITY, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting censorious critics of this dictionary. - Ambrose Bierce
LIGHTHOUSE, n. A tall building on the seashore in which the government maintains a lamp and the friend of a politician. - Ambrose Bierce
PHRENOLOGY, n. The science of picking the pocket through the scalp. It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe with. - Ambrose Bierce
REBEL, n. A proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish it. - Ambrose Bierce
REQUIEM, n. A mass for the dead which the minor poets assure us the winds sing o'er the graves of their favorites. Sometimes, by way of providing a varied entertainment, they sing a dirge. - Ambrose Bierce
SCEPTER, n. A king's staff of office, the sign and symbol of his authority. It was originally a mace with which the sovereign admonished his jester and vetoed ministerial measures by breaking the bones of their proponents. - Ambrose Bierce
ABASEMENT, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer. - Ambrose Bierce
TZETZE (or TSETSE) FLY, n. An African insect (_Glossina morsitans_) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature's most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (_Mendax interminabilis_). - Ambrose Bierce
IMPARTIAL, adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two conflicting opinions. - Ambrose Bierce
RECOUNT, n. In American politics, another throw of the dice, accorded to the player against whom they are loaded. - Ambrose Bierce
RESOLUTE, adj. Obstinate in a course that we approve. - Ambrose Bierce
Happiness, noun. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another. - Ambrose Bierce
FLOP, v. Suddenly to change one's opinions and go over to another party. The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our partisan journals. - Ambrose Bierce
COMPULSION, n. The eloquence of power. - Ambrose Bierce
DESTINY, n. A tyrant's authority for crime and fool's excuse for failure. - Ambrose Bierce
PHILOSOPHY, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing. - Ambrose Bierce
REPARTEE, n. Prudent insult in retort. Practiced by gentlemen with a constitutional aversion to violence, but a strong disposition to offend. In a war of words, the tactics of the North American Indian. - Ambrose Bierce
UN-AMERICAN, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish. - Ambrose Bierce
AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor. - Ambrose Bierce
PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy. - Ambrose Bierce
PUBLISH, n. In literary affairs, to become the fundamental element in a cone of critics. - Ambrose Bierce
ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white. - Ambrose Bierce
WINE, n. Fermented grape-juice known to the Women's Christian Union as "liquor," sometimes as "rum." Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man. - Ambrose Bierce
LAUREL, n. The _laurus_, a vegetable dedicated to Apollo, and formerly defoliated to wreathe the brows of victors and such poets as had influence at court. (_Vide supra._) - Ambrose Bierce
GENTEEL, adj. Refined, after the fashion of a gent. Observe with care, my son, the distinction I reveal: A gentleman is gentle and a gent genteel. Heed not the definitions your "Unabridged" presents, For dictionary makers are generally gents. G.J. - Ambrose Bierce
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. - Ambrose Bierce
INSURRECTION, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government. - Ambrose Bierce
ORATORY, n. A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the understanding. A tyranny tempered by stenography. - Ambrose Bierce
REVELATION, n. A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators, who know nothing. - Ambrose Bierce
DELEGATION, n. In American politics, an article of merchandise that comes in sets. - Ambrose Bierce
BOTTLE-NOSED, adj. Having a nose created in the image of its maker. - Ambrose Bierce
DIVINATION, n. The art of nosing out the occult. Divination is of as many kinds as there are fruit-bearing varieties of the flowering dunce and the early fool. - Ambrose Bierce
PHILISTINE, n. One whose mind is the creature of its environment, following the fashion in thought, feeling and sentiment. He is sometimes learned, frequently prosperous, commonly clean and always solemn. - Ambrose Bierce
ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit. - Ambrose Bierce
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. - Ambrose Bierce
DRAMATIST, n. One who adapts plays from the French. - Ambrose Bierce
HUSBAND, n. One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate. - Ambrose Bierce
Success is the one unpardonable sin against one's fellows. - Ambrose Bierce
ECONOMY, n. Purchasing the barrel of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford. - Ambrose Bierce
NOTORIETY, n. The fame of one's competitor for public honors. The kind of renown most accessible and acceptable to mediocrity. A Jacob's-ladder leading to the vaudeville stage, with angels ascending and descending. - Ambrose Bierce
RECONCILIATION, n. A suspension of hostilities. An armed truce for the purpose of digging up the dead. - Ambrose Bierce
MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two. - Ambrose Bierce
COMMERCE, n. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E. - Ambrose Bierce
DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one's country. - Ambrose Bierce
LOW-BRED, adj. "Raised" instead of brought up. - Ambrose Bierce
NEWTONIAN, adj. Pertaining to a philosophy of the universe invented by Newton, who discovered that an apple will fall to the ground, but was unable to say why. His successors and disciples have advanced so far as to be able to say when. - Ambrose Bierce
PRESBYTERIAN, n. One who holds the conviction that the government authorities of the Church should be called presbyters. - Ambrose Bierce
REASONABLE, adj. Accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion. - Ambrose Bierce
ARREST, v.t. Formally to detain one accused of unusualness. God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh. _The Unauthorized Version_ - Ambrose Bierce
CLERGYMAN, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of better his temporal ones. - Ambrose Bierce
CUNNING, n. The faculty that distinguishes a weak animal or person from a strong one. It brings its possessor much mental satisfaction and great material adversity. An Italian proverb says: "The furrier gets the skins of more foxes than asses." - Ambrose Bierce
RADIUM, n. A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ that a scientist is a fool with. - Ambrose Bierce
TELESCOPE, n. A device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. Luckily it is unprovided with a bell summoning us to the sacrifice. - Ambrose Bierce
Christian, n. One who follows the teachings of Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin. - Ambrose Bierce
Every time Europe looks across the Atlantic to see the American eagle, it observes only the rear end of an ostrich. - Ambrose Bierce
ALLAH, n. The Mahometan Supreme Being, as distinguished from the Christian, Jewish, and so forth. Allah's good laws I faithfully have kept, And ever for the sins of man have wept; And sometimes kneeling in the temple I Have reverently crossed my hands and slept. Junker Barlow - Ambrose Bierce
HOSTILITY, n. A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the earth's overpopulation. Hostility is classified as active and passive; as (respectively) the feeling of a woman for her female friends, and that which she entertains for all the rest of her sex. - Ambrose Bierce
HYPOCRITE, n. One who, profession virtues that he does not respect secures the advantage of seeming to be what he depises. - Ambrose Bierce
LUMINARY, n. One who throws light upon a subject; as an editor by not writing about it. - Ambrose Bierce
MUSTANG, n. An indocile horse of the western plains. In English society, the American wife of an English nobleman. - Ambrose Bierce
RESPECTABILITY, n. The offspring of a _liaison_ between a bald head and a bank account. - Ambrose Bierce
UGLINESS, n. A gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue without humility. - Ambrose Bierce
Clergyman, n. - A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones. - Ambrose Bierce
ACQUAINTANCE, n. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. A degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous. - Ambrose Bierce
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. - Ambrose Bierce
ARENA, n. In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman wrestles with his record. - Ambrose Bierce
ENCOMIAST, n. A special (but not particular) kind of liar. - Ambrose Bierce
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 from the senses. - Ambrose Bierce
FELON, n. A person of greater enterprise than discretion, who in embracing an opportunity has formed an unfortunate attachment. - Ambrose Bierce
HOMOEOPATHY, n. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they can not. - Ambrose Bierce
PASSPORT, n. A document treacherously inflicted upon a citizen going abroad, exposing him as an alien and pointing him out for special reprobation and outrage. - Ambrose Bierce
ACCOUNTABILITY, n. The mother of caution. "My accountability, bear in mind," Said the Grand Vizier: "Yes, yes," Said the Shah: "I do -- 'tis the only kind Of ability you possess." Joram Tate - Ambrose Bierce
INSECTIVORA, n. "See," cries the chorus of admiring preachers, "How Providence provides for all His creatures!" "His care," the gnat said, "even the insects follows: For us He has provided wrens and swallows." Sempen Railey - Ambrose Bierce
OUTCOME, n. A particular type of disappointment. By the kind of intelligence that sees in an exception a proof of the rule the wisdom of an act is judged by the outcome, the result. This is immortal nonsense; the wisdom of an act is to be juded by the light that the doer had when he performed it. - Ambrose Bierce
PARDON, v. To remit a penalty and restore to the life of crime. To add to the lure of crime the temptation of ingratitude. - Ambrose Bierce
PENITENT, adj. Undergoing or awaiting punishment. - Ambrose Bierce
TRUTHFUL, adj. Dumb and illiterate. - Ambrose Bierce
BEFRIEND, v.t. To make an ingrate. - Ambrose Bierce
Click any word or name in a quote to explore, or search for more. [JSON] [SOURCE]