Tag Archives: The Devil’s Dictionary

The Devil’s Dictionary: Populist

“Populist,  n. A fossil patriot of the early agricultural period, found in the old red soapstone underlying Kansas; characterized by an uncommon spread of ear, which some naturalists contend gave him the power of flight, though Professors Morse and Whitney, pursuing independent lines of thought, have ingeniously pointed out that had he possessed it he would have gone elsewhere. In the picturesque speech of his period, some fragments of which have come down to us, he was known as ‘The Matter with Kansas.'”

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

The Devil’s Dictionary: Harbor

“Harbor, n.  A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of the customs.”

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

The Devil’s Dictionary: Astrology (n.)

“Astrology, n. The science of making the dupe see stars. Astrology is by some held in high respect as the precursor of astronomy. Similarly, the night howling tomcat has a just claim to reverential consideration as precursor to the hunting bootjack.”

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

The Devil’s Dictionary: Clairvoyant

Clairvoyant, n. A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron—namely, that he is a blockhead.

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

 

The Devil’s Dictionary: Administration (n.)

Administration, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.

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

The Devil’s Dictionary: Fanatic

“Fanatic, n. One who overestimates the importance of convictions and undervalues the comfort of an existence free from the impact of addled eggs and dead cats upon the human periphery.”

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

 

The Devil’s Dictionary: Abasement

Abasement, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer.

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