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Ambrose Gwinett Bierce quotes (427)

RIDICULE n. Words designed to show that the person of whom they are uttered is devoid of the dignity of character distinguishing him who utters them.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ridicule

HUSBAND n. One who having dined is charged with the care of the plate.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Husband

INTRODUCTION n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Devil

OUTCOME n. A particular type of disappointment .... 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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Disappointment

COMMENDATION n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resembles but do not equal our own.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Achievement

OPPOSITION n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Opposition

LAZINESS n. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Lazy

ASPERSE v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Temptation

ONCE adv. Enough.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Enough

PLAN v.t. To bother about the best method of accomplishing an accidental result.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Method

JESTER n. An officer attached to the kings household to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and utterances ... the kings own conduct and decrees [being] sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of all mankind.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Amusement

UNIVERSALIST n. One who forgoes the advantage of a Hell for persons of another faith.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Hell

PLAGIARIZE v. To take the thought or style of another writer whom one has never never read.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Plagiarism

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Debt

EPITAPH n. An inscription on a tomb showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Epitaphs

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Weak

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Scriptures

PLEASE v. To lay the foundation for a superstructure of imposition.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Please

LECTURER n. One with his hand in your pocket his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Lecture

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Bible

REPRESENTATIVE n. In national politics a member of the Lower House in this world and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Representative

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Civilization

INSURANCE n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Insurance

BABE or BABY n. A misshapen creature of no particular age sex or condition chiefly remarkable for the violence of the sympathies and antipathies it excites in others itself without sentiment or emotion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Baby

OBLIVION n. The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fames eternal dumping ground.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Author

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Enthusiasm

BIGOT n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Bigotry

LYRE n. An ancient instrument of torture.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Music

PROVIDENTIAL adj. Unexpectedly and conspicuously beneficial to the person so describing it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Benefit

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Loquacity

SAW n. A trite popular saying or proverb. (Figurative and colloquial.) So called because it makes its way into a wooden head. Following are examples of old saws fitted with new teeth.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Proverb

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Prison

THEOSOPHY n. An ancient faith having all the certitude of religion and all the mystery of science.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Religion

WORMS-MEAT n. The finished product of which we are the raw material.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Products

MONSIGNOR n. A high ecclesiastical title of which the Founder of our religion overlooked the advantages.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Overlooked

HURRY n. The dispatch of bunglers.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Hurry

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Opera

REQUIEM n. A mass for the dead which the minor poets assure us the winds sing oer the graves of their favorites. Sometimes by way of providing a varied entertainment they sing a dirge.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Death

MAGNITUDE n. Size [that is] purely relative. If everything in the universe were increased 1000 diameters nothing would be any larger than it was before but if one thing remain unchanged all the others would be larger than they had been.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Universe

PILGRIM n. A traveler that is taken seriously. A Pilgrim Father was one who [was] not permitted to sing psalms through his nose [in Europe] followed it to Massachusetts where he could personate God according to the dictates of his conscience.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Travel

RESIGN v.t. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Resignation

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Miracle

Absurdity n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with ones own opinion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Absurd

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Business

PITIFUL adj. The state of an enemy of opponent after an imaginary encounter with oneself.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Pity

PILLORY n. A mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere virtues and blameless lives.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Newspaper

REFERENDUM n. A law for submission of proposed legislation to a popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Vote

EXCEPTION n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class as an honest man a truthful woman etc.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Exception

HEART n. Figuratively this useful organ is said to be the seat of emotions and sentiments .... It is now known that sentiments and emotions reside in the stomach being evolved from food by chemical action of the gastric fluid.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Heart

EAVESDROP v.i. Secretly to overhear a catalogue of the crimes and vices of another or yourself.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Secret

Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Woe

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Pen

RAILROAD n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. The railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Railroad

OATH n. In law a solemn appeal to the Deity made binding upon the conscience by a penalty for perjury.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Oath

JOSS-STICKS n. Small sticks burned by the Chinese in their pagan tomfoolery in imitation of certain sacred rites of our holy religion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Pagan

RUMOR n. A favorite weapon of the assassins of character.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Rumor

TALK v.t. To commit an indiscretion without temptation from an impulse without purpose.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Impulse

RETRIBUTION n. A rain of fire-and-brimstone that falls alike upon the just and such of the unjust as have not procured shelter by evicting them.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Revenge

MAUSOLEUM n. The final and funniest folly of the rich.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Funerals

CABBAGE n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a mans head.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Vatican

VANITY n. The tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ass

PLATITUDE n. The fundamental element and special glory of popular literature. A thought that snores in words that smoke. All that is mortal of a departed truth. A jelly-fish withering on the shore of the sea of thought. A desiccated epigram.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Literature

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: London

RADICALISM n. The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Radical

DIE n. The singular of dice. We seldom hear the word because there is a prohibitory proverb Never say die.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Games

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Envy

OUT-OF-DOORS n. That part of ones environment upon which no government has been able to collect taxes. Chiefly useful to inspire poets.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Out

ORATORY n. A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the understanding. A tyranny tempered by stenography.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Conspiracy

PEDIGREE n. The known part of the route from an arboreal ancestor with a swim bladder to an urban descendant with a cigarette.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ancestors

CONSOLATION n. The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate than yourself.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Yourself

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Conscience

REACH n. The radius of action of the human hand. The area within which it is possible (and customary) to gratify directly the propensity to provide.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Hand

PREDESTINATION n. The doctrine that all things occur according to programme.... not be confused with that of foreordination. The difference is great enough to have deluged Christendom with ink to say nothing of the gore.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Precedent

DUTY n. That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit along the line of desire.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Duty

RUM n. Generically fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Alcohol

OCEAN n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man who has no gills.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ocean

CANNON n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Nation

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Money

OMEN n. A sign that something will happen if nothing happens.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Omen

RESPITE n. A suspension of hostilities against a sentenced assassin to enable the Executive to determine whether the murder may not have been done by the prosecuting attorney. Any break in the continuity of a disagreeable expectation.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Rest

RANK n. Relative elevation in the scale of human worth.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Classes

OVATION n. n ancient Rome a definite formal pageant in honor of one who had been disserviceable to the enemies of the nation. A lesser triumph.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Honor

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Magic

ARDOR n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Love

BEHAVIOR n. Conduct as determined not by principle but by breeding.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Behavior

GLUTTON n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Moderation

LEAD n. A heavy blue-gray metal much used in giving stability to light lovers particularly to those who love not wisely but other mens wives.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Leadership

GRAVE n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Grave

TRUCE n. Friendship.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Friendship

NEIGHBOR n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Neighbor

RICH adj. Holding in trust and subject to an accounting the property of the indolent the incompetent the unthrifty the envious and the luckless.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Rich

CALLOUS adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Evil

EPIGRAM n. A short sharp saying in prose or verse frequently characterize by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Epigrams

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ability

PHILOSOPHY n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Philosophy

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Highways

RUSSIAN n. A person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul. A Tartar Emetic.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Russia

POPULIST n. A fossil patriot of the early agricultural period found in the old red soapstone underlying Kansas ...
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Patriotism

MYTHOLOGY n. The body of a primitive peoples beliefs concerning its origin early history heroes deities and so forth as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Myth

HOUSELESS adj. Having paid all taxes on household goods.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: House

RESPONSIBILITY n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God Fate Fortune Luck or ones neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Astrology

PERIPATETIC adj. Walking about. Relating to the philosophy of Aristotle who while expounding it moved from place to place in order to avoid his pupils objections. A needless precaution they knew no more of the matter than he.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Walk

GUILLOTINE n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Capable

MOUTH n. In man the gateway to the soul; in woman the outlet of the heart.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Soul

LIFE n. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay. We live in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Life

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Mind

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ugly

NOSE n. The extreme outpost of the face. It has been observed that ones nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of others from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Nose

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Punish

SOPHISTRY n. The controversial method of an opponent distinguished from ones own by superior insincerity and fooling.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Sophisticated

KILL v.t. To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Kill

UXORIOUSNESS n. A perverted affection that has strayed to ones own wife.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Affection

PROJECTILE n. The final arbiter in international disputes. With the growth of prudence in military affairs the projectile came more and more into favor and is now held in high esteem by the most courageous.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Military

WITTICISM n. A sharp and clever remark usually quoted and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a joke.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Wit

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Grammar

RECTOR n. In the Church of England the Third Person of the parochial Trinity the Cruate and the Vicar being the other two.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Church

AIM n. The task we set our wishes to.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Aim

ZEAL n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Zeal

BENEFACTOR n. One who makes heavy purchases of ingratitude without however materially affecting the price which is still within the means of all.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Gratitude

ZOOLOGY n. The science and history of the animal kingdom including its king the House Fly (Musca maledicta). The father of Zoology was Aristotle as is universally conceded but the name of its mother has not come down to us.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Zoo

RATIONAL adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation experience and reflection.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Delusion

VALOR n. A soldierly compound of vanity duty and the gamblers hope.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Valor

RIGHTEOUSNESS n. A sturdy virtue that was once found among the Pantidoodles inhabiting the lower part of the peninsula of Oque. Some feeble attempts were made by returned missionaries to introduce it into several European countries ...
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Right

TAIL n. The part of an animals spine that has transcended its natural limitations to set up an independent existence in a world of its own.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Animals

ALLIANCE n. In international politics the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each others pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Alliances

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Everything

REDUNDANT adj. Superfluous; needless; de trop.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Needs

HOMILETICS n. The science of adapting sermons to the spiritual needs capacities and conditions of the congregation.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Preach

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ingratitude

WHITE adj. and n. Black.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Black

READING n. The general body of what one reads. In our country it consists as a rule of Indiana novels short stories in dialect and humor in slang.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Reactionaries

LIAR n. A lawyer with a roving commission.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Lever

BEAUTY n. That power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Beauty

TEETOTALER n. One who abstains from strong drink sometimes totally sometimes tolerably totally.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Temperance

OLD adj. In that stage of usefulness which is not inconsistent with general inefficiency as an old man. Discredited by lapse of time and offensive to the popular taste as an old book.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Age

HABIT n. A shackle for the free.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Habit

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Disciples

RITUALISM n. A Dutch Garden of God where He may walk in rectilinear freedom keeping off the grass.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Freedom

ROMANCE n. Fiction that owes no allegiance to the God of Things as They Are. In the novel the writers thought is tethered to probability but in romance it ranges at will over the entire region of the imagination ...
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fiction

DOG n. A subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the worlds worship.... [H]is master works for the means wherewith to purchase the idle wag of the Solomonic tail seasoned with a look of tolerant recognition.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Dog

RASH adj. Insensible to the value of our advice.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Advice

HUMANITY n. The human race collectively exclusive of the anthropoid poets.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Housework

MEEKNESS n. Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Meek

RESTITUTOR n. Benefactor; philanthropist.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Philanthropy

PLAGIARISM n. A literary coincidence compounded of a discreditable priority and an honorable subsequence.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Coincidences

HOSPITALITY n. The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Hospitality

REPORTER n. A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Journalism

DAWN n. The time when men of reason go to bed.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Bed

MENDACIOUS adj. Addicted to rhetoric.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Speak

INDIGESTION n. A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Disease

Theres nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: New

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Cunning

CALAMITY n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves and good fortune to others.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Calamities

YESTERDAY n. The infancy of youth the youth of manhood the entire past of age.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Yesterday

WHEAT n. A cereal from which a tolerably good whisky can be made; ... 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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Easy

NOBLEMAN n. Natures provision for wealthy American minds ambitious to incur social distinction and suffer high life.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Noble

ADOLESCENCE The stage between puberty and adultery.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Adolescence

GOOD adj. Sensible madam to the worth of this present writer. Alive sir to the advantages of letting him alone.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Good

APHORISM n. Predigested wisdom.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Aphorism

EXECUTIVE n. An officer of the Government whose duty it is to enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of no effect.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Government

POLICE n. An armed force for protection and participation.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Armed

TZETZE (or TSETSE) FLY n. An African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as natures most efficacious remedy for insomnia though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis).
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Africa

Women of genius commonly have masculine faces figures and manners. In transplanting brains to an alien soil God leaves a little of the original earth clinging to the roots.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Unsorted

PLENIPOTENTIARY adj. Having full power. A Minister Plenipotentiary is a diplomatist possessing absolute authority on condition that he never exert it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Power

SYLLOGISM n. A logical formula consisting of a major and a minor assumption and an inconsequent.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Logic

LANGUAGE n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding anothers treasure.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Language

REFUSAL n. Denial of something desired; Refusals are graded in a descending scale of finality thus: the refusal absolute the refusal condition the refusal tentative and the refusal feminine. The last is called by some casuists the refusal assentive.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Denial

CONGRESS n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Congress

WHANGDEPOOTENAWAH n. In the Ojibwa tongue disaster; an unexpected affliction that strikes hard.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Disaster

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 ... [but] is for the advantage of the lawyers.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Murder

VIRTUES n.pl. Certain abstentions.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Virtue

REVOLUTION n. In politics an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.... the substitution of the rule of an Administration for that of a Ministry whereby the welfare and happiness of the people were advanced a full half-inch.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Administration

END n. The position farthest removed on either hand from the Interlocutor.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: End

EXILE n. One who serves his country by residing abroad yet is not an ambassador.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ambassador

ZIGZAG v.t. To move forward uncertainly from side to side as one carrying the white mans burden. (From zed z and jag an Icelandic word of unknown meaning.)
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Zigzag

MALEFACTOR n. The chief factor in the progress of the human race.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Progress

HERMIT n. A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Social

ACCUSE v.t. To affirm anothers guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Accusations

MORE adj. The comparative degree of too much.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: More

PHONOGRAPH n. An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Noise

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Photography

RESOLUTE adj. Obstinate in a course that we approve.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Obstinacy

RECOLLECT v. To recall with additions something not previously known.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Remember

POLITENESS n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Politeness

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Flag

CONSERVATIVE n. A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils as distinguished from a Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Conservative

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Generation

FIDELITY n. A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Betrayal

INSURRECTION n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffections failure to substitute misrule for bad government.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Revolution

HATCHET n. A young axe known among Indians as a Thomashawk.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Indians

POTABLE n. Suitable for drinking. Water is said to be potable; indeed some declare it our natural beverage although even they find it palatable only when suffering from the recurrent disorder known as thirst for which it is a medicine.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Water

RENOWN n. A degree of distinction between notoriety and fame a little more supportable than the one and a little more intolerable than the other. Sometimes it is conferred by an unfriendly and inconsiderate hand.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: False

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Medicine

PROPHECY n. The art and practice of selling ones credibility for future delivery.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Prophecy

INFALAPSARIAN n. One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have sinned unless he had a mind to in opposition to the Supralapsarians who hold that that luckless persons fall was decreed from the beginning.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Adam

REFORM v. A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Reform

SAFETY-CLUTCH n. A mechanical device acting automatically to prevent the fall of an elevator or cage in case of an accident to the hoisting apparatus.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Elevator

DIPLOMACY n. Lying in state or the patriotic art of lying for ones country.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Diploma

RIOT n. A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent bystanders.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Entertainment

LOW-BRED adj. Raised instead of brought up.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Breeding

WIT n. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Salt

SCRAP-BOOK n. A book that is commonly edited by a fool. Many persons of some small distinction compile scrap-books containing whatever they happen to read about themselves or employ others to collect.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Book

FLOP v. Suddenly to change ones 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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Opinion

HABEAS CORPUS. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Jail

TENACITY n. A certain quality of the human hand in its relation to the coin of the realm. It attains its highest development in the hand of authority and is considered a serviceable equipment for a career in politics.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Persecution

IGNORAMUS n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to yourself and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: If

POKER n. A game said to be played with cards for some purpose to this lexicographer unknown.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Cards

REDEMPTION n. Deliverance of sinners from the penalty of their sin through their murder of the deity against whom they sinned .... whoso believeth in it shall not perish but have everlasting life in which to try to understand it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Redemption

POSTERITY n. An appellate court which reverses the judgment of a popular authors contemporaries the appellant being his obscure competitor.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Appeasement

SCRIBBLER n. A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to ones own.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Writing

ROBBER n. A candid man of affairs.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Crime

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Christianity

LUNARIAN n. An inhabitant of the moon as distinguished from Lunatic one whom the moon inhabits.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Moon

PEACE n. In international affairs a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Peace

QUIVER n. A portable sheath in which the ancient statesman and the aboriginal lawyer carried their lighter arguments.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Lawyers

REPARATION n. Satisfaction that is made for a wrong and deducted from the satisfaction felt in committing it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Wrong

ADMONITION n. Gentle reproof as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Gentle

URBANITY n. The kind of civility that urban observers ascribe to dwellers in all cities but New York. Its commonest expression is heard in the words I beg your pardon and it is not consistent with disregard of the rights of others.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Circus

SCEPTER n. A kings 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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Authority

REBEL n. A proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Rebellion

RESPECTABILITY n. The offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Bald

SERIAL n. A literary work usually a story that is not true creeping through several issues of a newspaper or magazine.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Creep

WEDDING n. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one one undertakes to become nothing and nothing undertakes to become supportable.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Wedding

PANTOMIME n. A play in which the story is told without violence to the language. The least disagreeable form of dramatic action.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Drama

PREHISTORIC adj. Belonging to an early period and a museum. Antedating the art and practice of perpetuating falsehood.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: History

STORY n. A narrative commonly untrue. The truth of the stories here following has however not been successfully impeached.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Story

INCOMPOSSIBLE adj. Unable to exist if something else exists. Two things are incompossible when the world of being has scope enough for one of them but not enough for both as Walt Whitmans poetry and Gods mercy to man.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Possibility

CRAYFISH n. A small crustacean very much resembling the lobster but less indigestible.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fish

REALLY adv. Apparently.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Reality

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Protestant

SELFISH adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Selfishness

HARBOR n. A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of customs.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ship

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Pessimist

FRIENDLESS adj. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Common

CAVILER n. A critic of our own work.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Criticism

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Finance

IMPIETY n. Your irreverence toward my deity.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Irreverence

RECREATION n. A particular kind of dejection to relieve a general fatigue.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fatigue

TRIAL n. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges advocates and jurors. In order to effect this purpose it is necessary to supply a contrast in the person of one who is called the defendant...
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Contrast

OUTDO v.t. To make an enemy.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Endure

WEATHER n. The climate of the hour. A permanent topic of conversation among persons whom it does not interest but who have inherited the tendency to chatter about it from naked arboreal ancestors whom it keenly concerned.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Weather

DECALOGUE n. A series of commandments ten in number just enough to permit an intelligent selection for observance but not enough to embarrass the choice.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Commandments

IMMODEST adj. Having a strong sense of ones own merit coupled with a feeble conception of worth in others.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Modesty

Bore: n. a person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Bore

REVERENCE n. The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Reverence

PLEASURE n. The least hateful form of dejection.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Pleasure

IDLENESS n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Idleness

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 ... to the end of time.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Prospects

MALTHUSIAN adj. Pertaining to Malthus and his doctrines who believed in artificially limiting population but found that it could not be done by talking. Herod of Judea all the famous soldiers have been practical exponents of the Malthusian idea.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Birthday

WALL STREET n. A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Stocks

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Burden

GEOGRAPHER n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside of the world and the inside.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: World

OVERWORK n. A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Leisure

CRITIC n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Crisis

APPETITE n. An instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a solution to the labor question.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Labor

WORSHIP n. Homo Creators testimony to the sound construction and fine finish of Deus Creatus. A popular form of abjection having an element of pride.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Worship

POVERTY n. A file provided for the teeth of the rats of reform. 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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Potential

ALONE adj. In bad company.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Alone

PAST n. That part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. [T]he Past is the Future of yesterday the Future is the Past of to-morrow. They are one the knowledge and the dream.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Past

MIND n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Futility

MERCY n. An attribute beloved of detected offenders.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Mercy

IMMORAL adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered wrong wicked immoral.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Immorality

GHOST n. The outward and visible sign of an inward fear.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fear

LAST n. A shoemakers implement named by a frowning Providence as opportunity to the maker of puns.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Last

RESTITUTIONS n. The founding or endowing of universities and public libraries by gift or bequest.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Gift

SYLPH n. An immaterial but visible being that inhabited the air when the air was an element and before it was fatally polluted with factory smoke sewer gas and similar products of civilization.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Factory

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Children

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Compromise

PRICE n. Value plus a reasonable sum for the wear and tear of conscience in demanding it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Price

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Emotion

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Conquer

INDIFFERENT adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Imperfection

MISS n. The title with which we brand unmarried women to indicate that they are in the market. Let us be consistent and [also] give one to the unmarried man. I venture to suggest Mush abbreviated to Mh.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Title

RUIN v. To destroy. Specifically to destroy a maids belief in the virtue of maids.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Destiny

PEDESTRIAN n. The variable (an audible) part of the roadway for an automobile.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Automobiles

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: War

PLUNDER v. To take the property of another without observing the decent and customary reticences of theft. To wrest the wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanishing opportunity.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Wealth

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 DAMYANK.)
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Southerners

PRIVATE n. A military gentleman with a field-marshals baton in his knapsack and an impediment in his hope.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Privacy

UNDERSTANDING n. A cerebral secretion that enables one having it to know a house from a horse by the roof on the house. Its nature and laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke who rode a house and Kant who lived in a horse.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Understand

PERFECTION n. An imaginary state of quality distinguished from the actual by an element known as excellence; an attribute of the critic.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Perfection

RASCALITY n. Stupidity militant. The activity of a clouded intellect.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Rascal

WRATH n. Anger of a superior quality and degree appropriate to exalted characters and momentous occasions; as the wrath of God the day of wrath etc....
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Appropriateness

CEMETERY n. An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies poets write at a target and stone-cutters spell for a wager.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Mourn

AIR n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Air

REPUBLIC n. A nation in which the thing governing and the thing governed being the same there is only a permitted authority to enforce an optional obedience.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Republic

QUIXOTIC adj. Absurdly chivalric like Don Quixote. An insight into the beauty and excellence of this incomparable adjective is unhappily denied to him who has the misfortune to know that the gentlemans name is pronounced Ke-ho-tay.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Brave

INTIMACY n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for their mutual destruction.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fool

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 ... to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog [who pursues it].
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Cause

REASON v.i. To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Reason

YEAR n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Years

PAINTING n. The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Art

FAITH n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge of things without parallel.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Faith

GUNPOWDER n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Gun

SAINT n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Saint

CAT n. A soft indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Cat

KLEPTOMANIAC n. A rich thief.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Thief

TAKE v.t. To acquire frequently by force but preferably by stealth.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Force

MAD adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; at odds with the majority; in short unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Madness

IMPOSITION n. The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on of hands a ceremony common to many ecclesiastical systems but performed with the frankest sincerity by the sect known as Thieves.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Blessing

ILLUSTRIOUS adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice envy and detraction.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Malice

RECONSIDER v. To seek a justification for a decision already made.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Decency

IMMIGRANT n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Immigrants

MERCHANT n. One engaged in a commercial pursuit. A commercial pursuit is one in which the thing pursued is a dollar.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Competence

PLEONASM n. An army of words escorting a corporal of thought.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Word

SELF-EVIDENT adj. Evident to ones self and to nobody else.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Self

ACADEME n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught./ ACADEMY n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: School

TYPE n. Pestilent bits of metal suspected of destroying civilization and enlightenment despite their obvious agency in this incomparable dictionary.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Publicity

REASONABLE adj. Accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion dissuasion and evasion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Reasonable

ULTIMATUM n. In diplomacy a last demand before resorting to concessions.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Demands

X n. In our alphabet being a needless letter has an added invincibility to the attacks of the spelling reformers and like them will doubtless last as long as the language.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Spell

SUCCESS n. The one unpardonable sin against ones fellows.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Pardons

DISABUSE v.t. To present your neighbor with another and better error than the one which he has deemed advantageous to embrace.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Error

RED-SKIN n. A North American Indian whose skin is not red at least not on the outside.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Race

ARCHITECT n. One who drafts a plan of your house and plans a draft of your money.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Arab

SACRED adj. Dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine character; inspiring solemn thoughts or emotions; as ... the Cow in India; the Crocodile the Cat and the Onion of ancient Egypt.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Diversity

DEPENDENT adj. Reliant upon anothers generosity for the support which you are not in a position to exact from his fears.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Dependent

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Telephone

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Australia

PLAUDITS n. Coins with which the populace pays those who tickle and devour it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Praise

TWICE adv. Once too often.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Repeat

DISTANCE n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs and keep.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Distance

MOLECULE n. The ultimate indivisible unit of matter. It is distinguished from the corpuscle also the ultimate indivisible unit of matter by a closer resemblance to the atom also the ultimate indivisible unit of matter ...
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Atom

MINE adj. Belonging to me if I can hold or seize it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Me

IMPROVIDENCE n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues of to-morrow.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Day

REVEILLE n. A signal to sleeping soldiers to dream of battlefields no more but get up and have their blue noses counted.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Sleep

LITIGATION n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Law

REDRESS n. Reparation without satisfaction.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Grievances

PREROGATIVE n. A sovereigns right to do wrong.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Rights

HYPOCHONDRIASIS n. Depression of ones own spirits.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Depressed

MAIDEN n. A young person of the unfair sex. The maiden is not altogether unpleasing to the eye nor (without her piano and her views) insupportable to the ear though beaten out of the field by the canary which also is more portable.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Maid

QUOTATION n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Quotations

IDIOT n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiots activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action but pervades and regulates the whole.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Idiots

MONARCHICAL GOVERNMENT n. Government.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Monarchy

BEGGAR n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Beer

ADAGE n. Boned wisdom for weak teeth.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Wisdom

PREJUDICE n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Prejudice

LIBERTY n. One of Imaginations most precious possessions.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Liberty

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Property

PATIENCE n. A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Disguise

PRE-EXISTENCE n. An unnoted factor in creation.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Existence

NOMINEE n. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public office.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Candidate

CONTEMPT n. The feeling of a prudent man for an enemy who is too formidable safely to be opposed.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Contempt

REAR n. In American military matters that exposed part of the army that is nearest to Congress.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Army

BACK n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Adversity

SATIRE n. An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the authors enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Satire

PICTURE n. A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome in three.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Picture

BELLADONNA n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Lady

LEXICOGRAPHER n. A pestilent fellow who under the pretense of recording some particular stage in the development of a language does what he can to arrest its growth stiffen its flexibility and mechanize its methods.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Dictionary

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Piano

PROSPECT n. An outlook usually forbidding. An expectation usually forbidden.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Expectation

EXPERIENCE n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Acquaintance

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fashion

PALMISTRY n. The 947th method ... of obtaining money by false pretences [by] reading character in the wrinkles [of] the hand. The pretence is not altogether false... for the wrinkles in every hand submitted plainly spell the word dupe.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Fortuneteller

COMFORT n. A state of mind produced by contemplation of a neighbors uneasiness.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Comfort

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Bird

CREDITOR n. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Credit

JEALOUS adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Jealous

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Humor

PREFERENCE n. A sentiment or frame of mind induced by the erroneous belief that one thing is better than another.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Belief

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Trust

ROPE n. An obsolescent appliance for reminding assassins that they too are mortal. It is put about the neck and remains in place ones whole life long.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Hanging

ABSTAINER n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Abstinence

PROBOSCIS n. The rudimentary organ of an elephant which serves him in place of the knife-and-fork that Evolution has as yet denied him. For purposes of humor it is popularly called a trunk.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Elephant

OPIATE n. An unlocked door in the prison of Identity. It leads into the jail yard.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Drugs

SABBATH n. A weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Sabbath

TRUTHFUL adj. Dumb and illiterate.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Truth

ZENITH n. The point in the heavens directly overhead to a man standing or a growing cabbage. A man in bed or a cabbage in the pot is not considered as having a zenith though Horizontalists hold that the posture of the body was immaterial.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Heaven

RECRUIT n. A person distinguishable from a civilian by his uniform and from a soldier by his gait.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Soldier

FIDDLE n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horses tail on the entrails of a cat.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ears

YOUTH n. The Period of Possibility when Archimedes finds a fulcrum Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Youth

NON-COMBATANT n. A dead Quaker.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Nonviolence

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Color

PREDICAMENT n. The wage of consistency.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Consistent

MESMERISM n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Credulity

ZEUS n. The chief of Grecian gods adored by the Romans as Jupiter and by the modern Americans as God Gold Mob and Dog.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: God

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Marriage

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Persuasion

MORAL adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Expedience

OPPORTUNITY n. A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Opportunity

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Controversy

NOISE n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Authentic

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Kissing

CYNIC n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynics eyes to improve his vision.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Cynic

ACKNOWLEDGE v.t. To confess. Acknowledgment of one anothers faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Confession

RABBLE n. In a republic those who exercise a supreme authority tempered by fraudulent elections. The rabble is like the sacred Simurgh of Arabian fable omnipotent on condition that it do nothing.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Election

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
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Conduct

LOVE n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Influence

FUTURE n. That period of time in which our affairs prosper our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Future

PROOF-READER n. A malefactor who atones for making your writing nonsense by permitting the compositor to make it unintelligible.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Proof

DIARY n. A daily record of that part of ones life which he can relate to himself without blushing.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Blushing

VOTE n. The instrument and symbol of a freemans power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Symbolism

SUFFRAGE n. Expression of opinion by means of a ballot. The right of suffrage (which is held to be both a privilege and a duty) means as commonly interpreted the right to vote for the man of another mans choice and is highly prized.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ballots

MEERSCHAUM n. A fine white clay which for convenience in coloring it brown is made into tobacco pipes and smoked by the workmen engaged in that industry.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Smoking

IMAGINATION n. A warehouse of facts with poet and liar in joint ownership.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Illusions

OTHERWISE adv. No better.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Better

ACCIDENT n. An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Accidents

CLOSE-FISTED adj. Unduly desirous of keeping that which many meritorious persons wish to obtain.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Miser

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Kindness

TARIFF n. A scale of taxes on imports designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Imports

SATIETY n. The feeling that one has for the plate after he has eaten its contents madam.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Satisfied

PRESCRIPTION n. A physicians guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Doctor

SYMBOL n. Something that is supposed to typify or stand for something else. Many symbols are mere survivals as funereal urns carved on memorial monuments. We cannot stop making them but we can give them a name that conceals our helplessness.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Monument

SLANG n. The speech of one who utters with his tongue what he thinks with his ear and feels the pride of a creator in accomplishing the feat of a parrot. A means (under Providence) of setting up as a wit without a capital of sense.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Slang

RIMER n. A poet regarded with indifference or disesteem.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Poetry

LUMINARY n. One who throws light upon a subject; as an editor by not writing about it.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Editor

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.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Time

INJURY n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Injury

SEINE n. A kind of net for effecting an involuntary change of environment. For fish it is made strong and coarse but women are more easily taken with a singularly delicate fabric weighted with small cut stones.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Change

PRESIDENT n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom and of whom only it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: President

INVENTOR n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels levers and springs and believes it civilization.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Invention

MINOR adj. Less objectionable.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Minority

LIMB n. The branch of a tree or the leg of an American woman.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Tree

OPTIMIST n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white. A pessimist applied to God for relief.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Optimism

NONSENSE n. The objections that are urged against this excellent dictionary.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Nonsense

CONDOLE v.i. To show that bereavement is a smaller evil than sympathy.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Sympathy

PRESENT n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Eternity

PORTABLE adj. Exposed to a mutable ownership through vicissitudes of possession.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Possessions

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Conversation

PREDILECTION n. The preparatory stage of disillusion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Disillusionment

EGOTIST n. A person of low taste more interested in himself than in me.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ego

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 Gwinett Bierce   Category: Curiosity

PIE n. An advance agent of the reaper whose name is Indigestion.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Food

RESIDENT adj. Unable to leave.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Home

SORCERY n. The ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence. It was however deemed less respectable and sometimes was punished by torture and death.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Politics

MAN n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Man

UN-AMERICAN adj. Wicked intolerable heathenish.
Ambrose Gwinett Bierce   Category: Ambition