Devil’s Dictionary: Functionary

“Functionary, n. A person entrusted with certain official duties. That great and good man, the late President Buchanan, once unluckily mentioned himself with commendable satisfaction as ‘an old public functionary.’ The description fitted him like a skin and he wore it to his grave. When he appeared as the Judgement Seat, and his case was called, the Recording Angel ran his finger down the index to the Book of Doom and read off the name: ‘James Buchanan, O.P.F.’ ‘What does that mean?’ inquired the Court. And with that readiness of resource which in life had distinguished it from a garden slug, that truthful immortal part replied: ‘Oncommonly phaultless filanthropist.’ Mr. Buchanan was admitted to a seat in the Upper House.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000.

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