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Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

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Published by: dmamusa on May 15, 2012
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 The Internet Wiretap 1st Online Edition of
THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
by
AMBROSE BIERCE
Copyright 1911 by Albert and Charles Boni, Inc.A Public Domain Text, Copyright ExpiredReleased April 15 1993Entered by Aloysius of &tSftDotIotEaloysius@west.darkside.com
 
 PREFACE
The Devil's Dictionary_ was begun in a weekly paperin 1881, and was continued in a desultory way at longintervals until 1906. In that year a large part of itwas published in covers with the title _The Cynic's WordBook_, a name which the author had not the power toreject or happiness to approve. To quote the publishersof the present work:
"This more reverent title had previously been forced upon him bythe religious scruples of the last newspaper in which a part ofthe work had appeared, with the natural consequence that when itcame out in covers the country already had been flooded by itsimitators with a score of 'cynic' books --
The Cynic's This, TheCynic's That, and The Cynic's t'Other 
. Most of these books weremerely stupid, though some of them added the distinction ofsilliness. Among them, they brought the word 'cynic' intodisfavor so deep that any book bearing it was discredited inadvance of publication."
Meantime, too, some of the enterprising humorists of thecountry had helped themselves to such parts of the workas served their needs, and many of its definitions,anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had become more or lesscurrent in popular speech. This explanation is made, notwith any pride of priority in trifles, but in simpledenial of possible charges of plagiarism, which is notrifle. In merely resuming his own the author hopes tobe held guiltless by those to whom the work is addressed-- enlightened souls who prefer dry wines to sweet, senseto sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang. Aconspicuous, and it is hope not unpleasant, feature ofthe book is its abundant illustrative quotations fromeminent poets, chief of whom is that learned and ingeniuscleric, Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J., whose lines bearhis initials. To Father Jape's kindly encouragement andassistance the author of the prose text is greatlyindebted.A.B.
 
 
 
 A 
ABASEMENT, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presenceof wealth of power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee whenaddressing an employer.ABATIS, n. Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outsidefrom molesting the rubbish inside.ABDICATION, n. An act whereby a sovereign attests his sense of thehigh temperature of the throne.Poor Isabella's Dead, whose abdicationSet 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.G.J.ABDOMEN, n. The temple of the god Stomach, in whose worship, withsacrificial rights, all true men engage. From women this ancientfaith commands but a stammering assent. They sometimes minister atthe altar in a half-hearted and ineffective way, but true reverencefor the one deity that men really adore they know not. If woman had afree hand in the world's marketing the race would becomegraminivorous.ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part ofthe meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In thelast analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a highdegree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality isrightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.ABNORMAL, adj. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought andconduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to bedetested. Wherefore the lexicographer adviseth a striving toward thestraiter [sic] resemblance of the Average Man than he hath to himself.Whoso attaineth thereto shall have peace, the prospect of death andthe hope of Hell.ABORIGINIES, n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of anewly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.ABRACADABRA.By _Abracadabra_ we signifyAn infinite number of things.'Tis the answer to What? and How? and Why?And Whence? and Whither? -- a word wherebyThe Truth (with the comfort it brings)

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