Tag Archives: The Devil’s Dictionary

The Devil’s Dictionary: Scribbler

“Scribbler, n. A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to one’s own.”

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: Free-Trade

“Free-trade, n. The unrestricted interchange of commodities between nations—not, it must be observed, between states or provinces of the same nation. That is an entirely different thing, so we are assured by those who oppose free-trade, although wherein the difference consists is not altogether clear to anybody else. To all but those with the better light it seems that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for any part of the goose, and if a number of states are profited by exclusion of foreign products, each would be benefited (and therefore all prosper) by exclusion of the products of the others. To these benighted persons, too, it appears as if high duties on imports are beneficial, their absolute exclusion by law would be more beneficial; and that the former commercial isolation of Japan and China must have been productive of the happiest results to their logical inhabitants, with the courage of their opinions. What defect the Protectionist sees in that system he has never had goodness to explain—not even their great chief, the unspeakable scoundrel whose ingenious malevolence invented that peerless villainy, the custom 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.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Academe, Academy

“Academe, n. An ancient school where were morality and philosophy were taught.

 Academy, n (from academe) [1.] A modern school where football is taught. [2.] Originally a grove in which philosophers sought a meaning in nature; now a school in which naturals seek a meaning in philosophy.”

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: Telephone

“Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.”

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: Achievement

“Achievement, n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.”

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: Absolute

“Absolute, adj. [1.] 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. [2.] In Philosophy existing without reference to anything, and for a purely selfish purpose. Absolute certainty is one of the possible degrees of probability. Absolute monarchy is a form of government in which the chief power is vested in a gentleman who is near his end.”

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: 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.