REAR, n. In American military matters, that exposed part of the army that is nearest to Congress.
"Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce" was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, Fable/fabulist, and Satire/satirist. He wrote the short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and compiled a satirical lexicon, The Devil's Dictionary. His vehemence as a critic, his motto "Nothing matters", and the sardonic view of human nature that informed his work, all earned him the nickname "Bitter Bierce".
Despite his reputation as a searing critic, Bierce was known to encourage younger writers, including poet George Sterling and fiction writer W. C. Morrow. Bierce employed a distinctive style of writing, especially in his stories. His style often embraces an abrupt beginning, dark imagery, vague references to time, limited descriptions, impossible events and the theme of war.
In 1913, Bierce traveled to Mexico to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, missing persons/he disappeared without a trace.If you enjoy these quotes, be sure to check out other famous journalists! More Ambrose Bierce on Wikipedia.
PIE, n. An advance agent of the reaper whose name is Indigestion. Cold pie was highly esteemed by the remains. Rev. Dr. Mucker (in a funeral sermon over a British nobleman) Cold pie is a detestable American comestible. That's why I'm done -- or undone -- So far from that dear London. (from the headstone of a British nobleman in K.
REALLY, adv. Apparently.
IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.
PREDILECTION, n. The preparatory stage of disillusion.
HEAD-MONEY, n. A capitation tax, or poll-tax. In ancient times there lived a king Whose tax-collectors could not wring From all his subjects gold enough To make the royal way less rough. For pleasure's highway, like the dames Whose premises adjoin it, claims Perpetual repairing. So The tax-collectors in a row Appeared before the throne to pray .
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_).
GNU, n. An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone. A hunter from Kew caught a distant view Of a peacefully meditative gnu, And he said: 'I'll pursue, and my hands imbrue In its blood at a closer interview.' But that beast di.
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.
ABSOLUTE, adj. Independent, irresponsible. An absolute monarchy is one in which the sovereign does as he pleases so long as he pleases the assassins. Not many absolute monarchies are left, most of them having been replaced by limited monarchies, where the sovereign's power for evil (and for good) is greatly curtailed, and by republics, which are governed by chance.
Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue.
BEG, v. To ask for something with an earnestness proportioned to the belief that it will not be given. Who is that, father? A mendicant, child, Haggard, morose, and unaffable - wild! See how he glares through the bars of his cell! With Citizen Mendicant all is not well. Why did they put him there, father? Because Obeying hi.
HEBREW, n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior creation.
RUBBISH, n. Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions lying due south from Boreaplas.
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.
POVERTY, n. A file provided for the teeth of the rats of reform. The number of plans for its abolition equals that of the reformers who suffer from it, plus that of the philosophers who know nothing about it. Its victims are distinguished by possession of all the virtues and by their faith in leaders seeking to conduct them into a prosperity where they believe these to be unknown.
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.
ABNORMAL, adj. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought and conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to be detested. Wherefore the lexicographer adviseth a striving toward the straiter [sic] resemblance of the Average Man than he hath to himself. Whoso attaineth thereto shall have peace, the prospect of death and the hope of Hell.
COMMENDATION, n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resembles, but do not equal, our own.
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.
BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
DISABUSE, v.t. The present your neighbor with another and better error than the one which he has deemed it advantageous to embrace.
LANGUAGE, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure.
AMNESTY, n. The state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.
NOBLEMAN, n. Nature's provision for wealthy American minds ambitious to incur social distinction and suffer high life.
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.
REASONABLE, adj. Accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion.
BEGGAR, n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.
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.
NOISE, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.
ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.
Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
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.
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.
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.
ABASEMENT, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer.
ECCENTRICITY, n. A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity.
Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.
OPTIMIST, n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white. A pessimist applied to God for relief. 'Ah, you wish me to restore your hope and cheerfulness,' said God. 'No,' replied the petitioner, 'I wish you to create something that would justify them.' 'The world is all created,' said God, 'but you have overlooked something -- the mortality of the optimist.'
Barometer, n.: An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
VIRTUES, n.pl. Certain abstentions.
RATIONAL, adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.
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.
AFFLICTION, n. An acclimatizing process preparing the soul for another and bitter world.
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.
PANTHEISM, n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.
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.
REDUNDANT, adj. Superfluous; needless; _de trop_. The Sultan said: 'There's evidence abundant To prove this unbelieving dog redundant.' To whom the Grand Vizier, with mien impressive, Replied: 'His head, at least, appears excessive.' Habeeb Suleiman Mr. Debs is a redundant citizen. Theodore Roosevelt.
DISCRIMINATE, v.i. To note the particulars in which one person or thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another.
GLUTTON, n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia.
PRE-EXISTENCE, n. An unnoted factor in creation.
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.
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.'
HUSBAND, n. One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate.
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.
HOVEL, n. The fruit of a flower called the Palace. Twaddle had a hovel, Twiddle had a palace; Twaddle said: 'I'll grovel Or he'll think I bear him malice' -- A sentiment as novel As a castor on a chalice. Down upon the middle Of his legs fell Twaddle And astonished Mr. Twiddle, Who began to lift his noddle. Feed upon th.
RUM, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.
DIARY, n. A daily record of that part of one's life, which he can relate to himself without blushing. Hearst kept a diary wherein were writ All that he had of wisdom and of wit. So the Recording Angel, when Hearst died, Erased all entries of his own and cried: 'I'll judge you by your diary.' Said Hearst: 'Thank you; 'twill show you I am Saint the First' - Strai.
HYBRID, n. A pooled issue.
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.
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.
DELUSION, n. The father of a most respectable family, comprising Enthusiasm, Affection, Self-denial, Faith, Hope, Charity and many other goodly sons and daughters. All hail, Delusion! Were it not for thee The world turned topsy-turvy we should see; For Vice, respectable with cleanly fancies, Would fly abandoned Virtue's gross advances. Mumfrey Mappel.
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.
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
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.
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.
RUMOR, n. A favorite weapon of the assassins of character. Sharp, irresistible by mail or shield, By guard unparried as by flight unstayed, O serviceable Rumor, let me wield Against my enemy no other blade. His be the terror of a foe unseen, His the inutile hand upon the hilt, And mine the deadly tongue, long, slender, keen, Hinting a rumor of some .
SERIAL, n. A literary work, usually a story that is not true, creeping through several issues of a newspaper or magazine. Frequently appended to each installment is a 'synopsis of preceding chapters' for those who have not read them, but a direr need is a synposis of succeeding chapters for those who do not intend to read _them_. A synposis of the entire work would be still better. The late J.
WOMAN, n. An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication. It is credited by many of the elder zoologists with a certain vestigial docility acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, deny the virtue and declare that such as creation's dawn be.
BERENICE'S HAIR, n. A constellation (_Coma Berenices_) named in honor of one who sacrificed her hair to save her husband. Her locks an ancient lady gave Her loving husband's life to save; And men - they honored so the dame - Upon some stars bestowed her name. But to our modern married fair, Who'd give their lords to save their hair, No stellar recogni.
MISERICORDE, n. A dagger which in mediaeval warfare was used by the foot soldier to remind an unhorsed knight that he was mortal.
GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason. In his great work on _Divergent Lines of Racial Evolution_, the learned Professor Brayfugle argues from the prevalence of this gesture -- the shrug -- among Frenchmen, that they are descended from turtles and it is simply a survival of the habit of retracing the head inside the shell. It is with reluctance .
PLAUDITS, n. Coins with which the populace pays those who tickle and devour it.
RAREBIT, n. A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit. To whom it may be solemnly explained that the comestible known as toad-in-a-hole is really not a toad, and that _riz-de-veau a la financiere_ is not the smile of a calf prepared after the recipe of a she banker.
REVERENCE, n. The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.
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.'
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.
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.
INFLUENCE, n. In politics, a visionary _quo_ given in exchange for a substantial _quid_.
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!'
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.
FORMA PAUPERIS. [Latin] In the character of a poor person -- a method by which a litigant without money for lawyers is considerately permitted to lose his case. When Adam long ago in Cupid's awful court (For Cupid ruled ere Adam was invented) Sued for Eve's favor, says an ancient law report, He stood and pleaded unhabilimented. 'You sue _in forma pauperis_, I s.
MAYONNAISE, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
OUTDO, v.t. To make an enemy.
POLYGAMY, n. A house of atonement, or expiatory chapel, fitted with several stools of repentance, as distinguished from monogamy, which has but one.
SEVERALTY, n. Separateness, as, lands in severalty, i.e., lands held individually, not in joint ownership. Certain tribes of Indians are believed now to be sufficiently civilized to have in severalty the lands that they have hitherto held as tribal organizations, and could not sell to the Whites for waxen beads and potato whiskey. Lo! the poor Indian whose unsuited mind Saw death be.
ADMIRAL, n. That part of a war-ship which does the talking while the figure-head does the thinking.
LORD, n. In American society, an English tourist above the state of a costermonger, as, lord 'Aberdasher, Lord Hartisan and so forth. The traveling Briton of lesser degree is addressed as 'Sir,' as, Sir 'Arry Donkiboi, or 'Amstead 'Eath. The word 'Lord' is sometimes used, also, as a title of the Supreme Being; but this is thought to be rather flattery than true reverence. Miss Sallie Ann.
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.
PEDIGREE, n. The known part of the route from an arboreal ancestor with a swim bladder to an urban descendant with a cigarette.
PUBLISH, n. In literary affairs, to become the fundamental element in a cone of critics.
VALOR, n. A soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler's hope. 'Why have you halted?' roared the commander of a division and Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; 'move forward, sir, at once.' 'General,' said the commander of the delinquent brigade, 'I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.'
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.
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!'
WITTICISM, n. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted, and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a 'joke.'
LODGER, n. A less popular name for the Second Person of that delectable newspaper Trinity, the Roomer, the Bedder, and the Mealer.
RESTITUTOR, n. Benefactor; philanthropist.
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.
INEXPEDIENT, adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests.
RADIUM, n. A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ that a scientist is a fool with.
HOMOEOPATHIST, n. The humorist of the medical profession.
INDECISION, n. The chief element of success; 'for whereas,' saith Sir Thomas Brewbold, 'there is but one way to do nothing and diverse ways to do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it followeth that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many chances of going astray as he who pusheth forwards' -- a most clear and satisfactory exposition on the matter. 'Your.
PREROGATIVE, n. A sovereign's right to do wrong.
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.
DICTATOR, n. The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy.
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.
NOMINEE, n. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public office.
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.
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.
Marriage: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.
APRIL FOOL, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly.
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.
REDRESS, n. Reparation without satisfaction. Among the Anglo-Saxon a subject conceiving himself wronged by the king was permitted, on proving his injury, to beat a brazen image of the royal offender with a switch that was afterward applied to his own naked back. The latter rite was performed by the public hangman, and it assured moderation in the plaintiff's choice of a switch.
Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
SELFISH, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
ADHERENT, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get.
HEAT, n. Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode Of motion, but I know now how he's proving His point; but this I know -- hot words bestowed With skill will set the human fist a-moving, And where it stops the stars burn free and wild. _Crede expertum_ -- I have seen them, child. Gorton Swope.
RECTOR, n. In the Church of England, the Third Person of the parochial Trinity, the Cruate and the Vicar being the other two.
REPENTANCE, n. The faithful attendant and follower of Punishment. It is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not inconsistent with continuity of sin. Desirous to avoid the pains of Hell, You will repent and join the Church, Parnell? How needless! -- Nick will keep you off the coals And add you to the woes of other souls. Jomater Abemy.
RETALIATION, n. The natural rock upon which is reared the Temple of Law.
WEDDING, n. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.
ADDER, n. A species of snake. So called from its habit of adding funeral outlays to the other expenses of living.
FRIENDSHIP, n. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul. The sea was calm and the sky was blue; Merrily, merrily sailed we two. (High barometer maketh glad.) On the tipsy ship, with a dreadful shout, The tempest descended and we fell out. (O the walking is nasty bad!) Armit Huff Bettle.
TEDIUM, n. Ennui, the state or condition of one that is bored. Many fanciful derivations of the word have been affirmed, but so high an authority as Father Jape says that it comes from a very obvious source -- the first words of the ancient Latin hymn _Te Deum Laudamus_. In this apparently natural derivation there is something that saddens.
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.
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!'
IMBECILITY, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting censorious critics of this dictionary.
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.
LAWFUL, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.
MUSTANG, n. An indocile horse of the western plains. In English society, the American wife of an English nobleman.
ACKNOWLEDGE, v.t. To confess. Acknowledgement of one another's faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.
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.
GHOST, n. The outward and visible sign of an inward fear. He saw a ghost. It occupied -- that dismal thing! -- The path that he was following. Before he'd time to stop and fly, An earthquake trifled with the eye That saw a ghost. He fell as fall the early good; Unmoved that awful vision stood. The stars that danced before his ken He wildly.
Politics: 'The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.'
The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.
BEHAVIOR, n. Conduct, as determined, not by principle, but by breeding. The word seems to be somewhat loosely used in Dr. Jamrach Holobom's translation of the following lines from the _Dies Irae_: Recordare, Jesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae. Ne me perdas illa die. Pray remember, sacred Savior, Whose the thoughtless hand that gave your Death-blow. Pard.
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.
PRUDE, n. A bawd hiding behind the back of her demeanor.
DUTY, n. That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire. Sir Lavender Portwine, in favor at court, Was wroth at his master, who'd kissed Lady Port. His anger provoked him to take the king's head, But duty prevailed, and he took the king's bread, Instead. G.J.
LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.
PREJUDICE, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
ABDICATION, n. An act whereby a sovereign attests his sense of the high temperature of the throne. Poor Isabella's Dead, whose abdication Set all tongues wagging in the Spanish nation. For that performance 'twere unfair to scold her: She wisely left a throne too hot to hold her. To History she'll be no royal riddle - Merely a plain parched pea that jumped the griddle. .
CONSOLATION, n. The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate than yourself.
INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
INJURY, n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.
OBSERVATORY, n. A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses of their predecessors.
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.
HUMANITY, n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets.
FUNERAL, n. A pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker, and strengthen our grief by an expenditure that deepens our groans and doubles our tears. The savage dies -- they sacrifice a horse To bear to happy hunting-grounds the corse. Our friends expire -- we make the money fly In hope their souls will chase it to the sky. .
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum -- I think I think, therefore, I think I am.
DELUGE, n. A notable first experiment in baptism which washed away the sins (and sinners) of the world.
HURRY, n. The dispatch of bunglers.
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.
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.
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.
ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.
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.
MINE, adj. Belonging to me if I can hold or seize it.
Politeness, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.
CALLOUS, adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another. When Zeno was told that one of his enemies was no more he was observed to be deeply moved. 'What!' said one of his disciples, 'you weep at the death of an enemy?' 'Ah, 'tis true,' replied the great Stoic; 'but you should see me smile at the death of a friend.'
FORGETFULNESS, n. A gift of God bestowed upon doctors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
METROPOLIS, n. A stronghold of provincialism.
Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
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.
IMPROVIDENCE, n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues of to-morrow.
LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion -- thus: _Major Premise_: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man. _Minor Premise_: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; ther.
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.
History, n. An account mostly false, of events unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
CRAYFISH, n. A small crustacean very much resembling the lobster, but less indigestible. In this small fish I take it that human wisdom is admirably figured and symbolized; for whereas the crayfish doth move only backward, and can have only retrospection, seeing naught but the perils already passed, so the wisdom of man doth not enable him to avoid the follies that beset his course.
DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.
GOUT, n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
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.
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.
I think I think, therefore, I think I am.
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.
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.
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.
Saint, noun. A dead sinner revised and edited.
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.
MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency. It is sayd there be a raunge of mountaynes in the Easte, on one syde of the which certayn conducts are immorall, yet on the other syde they are holden in good esteeme; wherebye the mountayneer is much conveenyenced, for it is given to him to goe downe eyther way and act as it shall.
MUGWUMP, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt.
ORTHODOX, n. An ox wearing the popular religious joke.
PITIFUL, adj. The state of an enemy of opponent after an imaginary encounter with oneself.
PROVIDENTIAL, adj. Unexpectedly and conspicuously beneficial to the person so describing it.
REPOSE, v.i. To cease from troubling.
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.
Love, n - A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
CLOCK, n. A machine of great moral value to man, allaying his concern for the future by reminding him what a lot of time remains to him. A busy man complained one day: 'I get no time!' 'What's that you say?' Cried out his friend, a lazy quiz; 'You have, sir, all the time there is. There's plenty, too, and don't you doubt it - We're never for an hour without it.'
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.
PLATONIC, adj. Pertaining to the philosophy of Socrates. Platonic Love is a fool's name for the affection between a disability and a frost.
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.
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.
LOSS, n. Privation of that which we had, or had not. Thus, in the latter sense, it is said of a defeated candidate that he 'lost his election'; and of that eminent man, the poet Gilder, that he has 'lost his mind.' It is in the former and more legitimate sense, that the word is used in the famous epitaph: Here Huntington's ashes long have lain Whose loss is our eternal gain, Fo.
MALTHUSIAN, adj. Pertaining to Malthus and his doctrines. Malthus believed in artificially limiting population, but found that it could not be done by talking. One of the most practical exponents of the Malthusian idea was Herod of Judea, though all the famous soldiers have been of the same way of thinking.
PREFERENCE, n. A sentiment, or frame of mind, induced by the erroneous belief that one thing is better than another. An ancient philosopher, expounding his conviction that life is no better than death, was asked by a disciple why, then, he did not die. 'Because,' he replied, 'death is no better than life.' It is longer.
FIB, n. A lie that has not cut its teeth. An habitual liar's nearest approach to truth: the perigee of his eccentric orbit. When David said: 'All men are liars,' Dave, Himself a liar, fibbed like any thief. Perhaps he thought to weaken disbelief By proof that even himself was not a slave To Truth; though I suspect the aged knave Had been of all her servitors the ch.
AFFIANCED, pp. Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain.
OPPOSITION, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it. The King of Ghargaroo, who had been abroad to study the science of government, appointed one hundred of his fattest subjects as members of a parliament to make laws for the collection of revenue. Forty of these he named the Party of Opposition and had his Prime Minister carefully instruct .
PHILANTHROPIST, n. A rich (and usually bald) old gentleman who has trained himself to grin while his conscience is picking his pocket.
SYMBOLIC, adj. Pertaining to symbols and the use and interpretation of symbols. They say 'tis conscience feels compunction; I hold that that's the stomach's function, For of the sinner I have noted That when he's sinned he's somewhat bloated, Or ill some other ghastly fashion Within that bowel of compassion. True, I believe the only sinner Is he that ea.
ABRACADABRA. By _Abracadabra_ we signify An infinite number of things. 'Tis the answer to What? and How? and Why? And Whence? and Whither? - a word whereby The Truth (with the comfort it brings) Is open to all who grope in night, Crying for Wisdom's holy light. Whether the word is a verb or a noun Is knowledge beyond my reach. I only know that.
HUMORIST, n. A plague that would have softened down the hoar austerity of Pharaoh's heart and persuaded him to dismiss Israel with his best wishes, cat-quick. Lo! the poor humorist, whose tortured mind See jokes in crowds, though still to gloom inclined -- Whose simple appetite, untaught to stray, His brains, renewed by night, consumes by day. He thinks, admitted to a.
IMPOSTOR n. A rival aspirant to public honors.
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.
PLEBISCITE, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.
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.
BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.
FEMALE, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex. The Maker, at Creation's birth, With living things had stocked the earth. From elephants to bats and snails, They all were good, for all were males. But when the Devil came and saw He said: 'By Thine eternal law Of growth, maturity, decay, These all must quickly pass away And leave untenanted the earth.
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.'
MORE, adj. The comparative degree of too much.
TRUTHFUL, adj. Dumb and illiterate.
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.
DEPENDENT, adj. Reliant upon another's generosity for the support which you are not in a position to exact from his fears.
DUEL, n. A formal ceremony preliminary to the reconciliation of two enemies. Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if awkwardly performed the most unexpected and deplorable consequences sometimes ensue. A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel. That dueling's a gentlemanly vice I hold; and wish that it had been my lot To live my life out in some favore.
ETHNOLOGY, n. The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists.
LAZINESS, n. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.
PATIENCE, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.
PIRACY, n. Commerce without its folly-swaddles, just as God made it.
POLICE, n. An armed force for protection and participation.
PRESBYTERIAN, n. One who holds the conviction that the government authorities of the Church should be called presbyters.
RESPLENDENT, adj. Like a simple American citizen beduking himself in his lodge, or affirming his consequence in the Scheme of Things as an elemental unit of a parade. The Knights of Dominion were so resplendent in their velvet- and-gold that their masters would hardly have known them. 'Chronicles of the Classes'.
ELECTOR, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LOCK-AND-KEY, n. The distinguishing device of civilization and enlightenment.
MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
OMEN, n. A sign that something will happen if nothing happens.
ACCORD, n. Harmony.
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.
LOW-BRED, adj. 'Raised' instead of brought up.
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.
ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.
BEFRIEND, v.t. To make an ingrate.
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.'
HISTORIAN, n. A broad-gauge gossip.
BOTTLE-NOSED, adj. Having a nose created in the image of its maker.
RED-SKIN, n. A North American Indian, whose skin is not red -- at least not on the outside.
WASHINGTONIAN, n. A Potomac tribesman who exchanged the privilege of governing himself for the advantage of good government. In justice to him it should be said that he did not want to. They took away his vote and gave instead The right, when he had earned, to _eat_ his bread. In vain -- he clamors for his 'boss,' pour soul, To come again and part him from his roll. .
CALUMNUS, n. A graduate of the School for Scandal.
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.
EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced. To one who, journeying through night and fog, Is mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog, Experience, like the rising of the dawn, Reveals the path that he should not have gone. Joel Frad Bink.
Dentist, n.: A Prestidigitator who, putting metal in one's mouth, pulls coins out of one's pockets.
Reverence: the spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.
IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.
NIHILIST, n. A Russian who denies the existence of anything but Tolstoi. The leader of the school is Tolstoi.
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.
PREDICAMENT, n. The wage of consistency.
LITIGATION, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.
DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave- driver. As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet, Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him, Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him; So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him, Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him, Grieves.
LEARNING, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
LUNARIAN, n. An inhabitant of the moon, as distinguished from Lunatic, one whom the moon inhabits. The Lunarians have been described by Lucian, Locke and other observers, but without much agreement. For example, Bragellos avers their anatomical identity with Man, but Professor Newcomb says they are more like the hill tribes of Vermont.
PEDESTRIAN, n. The variable (an audible) part of the roadway for an automobile.
PREHISTORIC, adj. Belonging to an early period and a museum. Antedating the art and practice of perpetuating falsehood. He lived in a period prehistoric, When all was absurd and phantasmagoric. Born later, when Clio, celestial recorded, Set down great events in succession and order, He surely had seen nothing droll or fortuitous In anything here but the lies that.
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.
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.
Optimism, n. The doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.
ALLIGATOR, n. The crocodile of America, superior in every detail to the crocodile of the effete monarchies of the Old World. Herodotus says the Indus is, with one exception, the only river that produces crocodiles, but they appear to have gone West and grown up with the other rivers. From the notches on his back the alligator is called a sawrian.
BENEDICTINES, n. An order of monks otherwise known as black friars. She thought it a crow, but it turn out to be A monk of St. Benedict croaking a text. 'Here's one of an order of cooks,' said she - 'Black friars in this world, fried black in the next.' 'The Devil on Earth' (London, 1712).
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.
PREVARICATOR, n. A liar in the caterpillar estate.
ABORIGINIES, n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.
GRAPESHOT, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism.
IMMODEST, adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with a feeble conception of worth in others. There was once a man in Ispahan Ever and ever so long ago, And he had a head, the phrenologists said, That fitted him for a show. For his modesty's bump was so large a lump (Nature, they said, had taken a freak) That its summit stood far abov.
PILLORY, n. A mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction -- prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere virtues and blameless lives.
CARNIVOROUS, adj. Addicted to the cruelty of devouring the timorous vegetarian, his heirs and assigns.
CREDITOR, n. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.
END, n. The position farthest removed on either hand from the Interlocutor. The man was perishing apace Who played the tambourine; The seal of death was on his face -- 'Twas pallid, for 'twas clean. 'This is the end,' the sick man said In faint and failing tones. A moment later he was dead, And Tambourine was Bones. Tinley Roq.
JEWS-HARP, n. An unmusical instrument, played by holding it fast with the teeth and trying to brush it away with the finger.
MINOR, adj. Less objectionable.
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.
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.
PLENIPOTENTIARY, adj. Having full power. A Minister Plenipotentiary is a diplomatist possessing absolute authority on condition that he never exert it.
REBEL, n. A proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish it.
Success is the one unpardonable sin against one's fellows.
The ocean is a body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.
BARRACK, n. A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of which it is their business to deprive others.
CANONICALS, n. The motley worm by Jesters of the Court of Heaven.
ELEGY, n. A composition in verse, in which, without employing any of the methods of humor, the writer aims to produce in the reader's mind the dampest kind of dejection. The most famous English example begins somewhat like this: The cur foretells the knell of parting day; The loafing herd winds slowly o'er the lea; The wise man homeward plods; I only stay To fiddle-faddl.
FELON, n. A person of greater enterprise than discretion, who in embracing an opportunity has formed an unfortunate attachment.
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.
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.
RASCAL, n. A fool considered under another aspect.
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.
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.
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.
AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
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.
DELEGATION, n. In American politics, an article of merchandise that comes in sets.
EPIGRAM, n. A short, sharp saying in prose or verse, frequently characterize by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom. Following are some of the more notable epigrams of the learned and ingenious Dr. Jamrach Holobom: We know better the needs of ourselves than of others. To serve oneself is economy of administration. In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a .
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.
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.
Reporter: A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words.
DRAMATIST, n. One who adapts plays from the French.
SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. The Duchess of Orleans relates that the irreverent old calumniator, Marshal Villeroi, who in his youth had known St. Francis de Sales, said, on hearing him called saint: 'I am delighted to hear that Monsieur de Sales is a saint. He was fond of saying indelicate things, and used to cheat at cards. In other respects he was a perfect gentleman, though .