Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (4/5)

I picked this up over the weekend just because of the title and I’m glad I did. It's exactly what it says on the tin – well, maybe not really; we can't ever be truly sure that the devil has a dictionary. So, in more clear terms, it's a dictionary full of amusing (read: satirical) definitions.

A few of my favourites are:

absurdity, n. a statement of belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.

apologise, v.i. To lay the foundation for future offence.

bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

grave, n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.

ignoramus, n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about.

philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

riot, n. A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent bystanders.

ugliness, n. A gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue without humility.

year, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointment.


This has definitely wetted my appetite for some more Ambrose Bierce.

Note: I couldn't find a picture of the edition I have (a nice red leather bound), so this one will have to do.

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