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CRAYFISH, n. A small crustacean very much resembling the lobster, but less indigestible.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HUSBAND, n. One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
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.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
AUSTRALIA, n. A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate his name.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
FLOP, v. Suddenly to change one's opinions and go over to another party. The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our partisan journals.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MACHINATION, n. The method employed by one's opponents in baffling one's open and honorable efforts to do the right thing.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DUEL, n. A formal ceremony preliminary to reconciliation of two enemies. Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if awkwardly performed ... deplorable consequences sometimes ensue. A long time ago a man lost his life.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
Calamities, n. of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
POLITICS, n. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
FORK, n. An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MISCREANT, n. A person of the highest degree of unworth. Etymologically, the word means unbeliever, and its present signification may be regarded as theology's noblest contribution to the development of our language.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PATRIOT, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CONVENT, n. A place of retirement for woman who wish for leisure to meditate upon the vice of idleness.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PROJECTILE, n. The final arbiter in international disputes. With the growth of prudence in military affairs the projectile came more and more into favor, and is now held in high esteem by the most courageous.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PASSPORT, n. A document treacherously inflicted upon a citizen going abroad, exposing him as an alien and pointing him out for special reprobation and outrage.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PERFECTION, n. An imaginary state of quality distinguished from the actual by an element known as excellence; an attribute of the critic.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PROSPECT, n. An outlook, usually forbidding. An expectation, usually forbidden.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MISERICORDE, n. A dagger which in mediaeval warfare was used by the foot soldier to remind an unhorsed knight that he was mortal.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PHRENOLOGY, n. The science of picking the pocket through the scalp. It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe with.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PROOF-READER, n. A malefactor who atones for making your writing nonsense by permitting the compositor to make it unintelligible.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EXHORT, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RESTITUTIONS, n. The founding or endowing of universities and public libraries by gift or bequest.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
YESTERDAY, n. The infancy of youth, the youth of manhood, the entire past of age.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CONTEMPT, n. The feeling of a prudent man for an enemy who is too formidable safely to be opposed.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ZEAL, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RIBROASTER, n. Censorious language by oneself concerning another.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MERCY, n. An attribute beloved of detected offenders.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
TRUTH, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing ... to the end of time.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ECONOMY, n. Purchasing the barrel of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IMMODEST, adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with a feeble conception of worth in others.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
WORMS'-MEAT, n. The finished product of which we are the raw material.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HYENA, n. A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its habit of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead. But the medical student does that.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
WORSHIP, n. Homo Creator's testimony to the sound construction and fine finish of Deus Creatus. A popular form of abjection, having an element of pride.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OPPORTUNITY, n. A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RIDICULE, n. Words designed to show that the person of whom they are uttered is devoid of the dignity of character distinguishing him who utters them.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
POSITIVISM, n. A philosophy that denies our knowledge of the Real and affirms our ignorance of the Apparent. Its longest exponent is Comte, its broadest Mill and its thickest Spencer.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RUIN, v. To destroy. Specifically, to destroy a maid's belief in the virtue of maids.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
INSURRECTION, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PRELATE, n. A church officer having a superior degree of holiness and a fat preferment. One of Heaven's aristocracy. A gentleman of God.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
LOCK-AND-KEY, n. The distinguishing device of civilization and enlightenment.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
NOVEL, n. A short story padded. A species of composition bearing the same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art. As it is too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its successive parts are successively effaced, as in the pa
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CONSOLATION, n. The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate than yourself.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PLAGUE, n. In ancient times a general punishment of the innocent for admonition of their ruler, as in the familiar instance of Pharaoh the Immune. The plague today ... is merely Nature's fortuitous manifestation of her purposeless objectionableness.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PRESENTABLE, adj. Hideously appareled after the manner of the time and place.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RUMOR, n. A favorite weapon of the assassins of character.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
TRICHINOSIS, n. The pig's reply to proponents of porcophagy.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RECOUNT, n. In American politics, another throw of the dice, accorded to the player against whom they are loaded.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
FIDDLE, n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DEPENDENT, adj. Reliant upon another's generosity for the support which you are not in a position to exact from his fears.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
SAUCE, n. The one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment. A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one sauce has only nine hundred and ninety-nine. For every sauce invented and accepted a vice is renounced and forgiven.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
NEPOTISM, n. Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of the party.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ULTIMATUM, n. In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MEDAL, n. A small metal disk given as a reward for virtues, attainments or services more or less authentic.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
UNDERSTANDING, n. A cerebral secretion that enables one having it to know a house from a horse by the roof on the house. Its nature and laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke, who rode a house, and Kant, who lived in a horse.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
INTRODUCTION, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RESPLENDENT, adj. Like a simple American citizen beduking himself in his lodge, or affirming his consequence in the Scheme of Things as an elemental unit of a parade.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
LAST, n. A shoemaker's implement, named by a frowning Providence as opportunity to the maker of puns.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
POCKET, n. The cradle of motive and the grave of conscience. In woman this organ is lacking; so she acts without motive, and her conscience, denied burial, remains ever alive, confessing the sins of others.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CALAMITY, n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
REPENTANCE, n. The faithful attendant and follower of Punishment. It is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not inconsistent with continuity of sin.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ADHERENT, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
APPETITE, n. An instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a solution to the labor question.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MUMMY, n. An ancient Egyptian ... handy, too, in museums in gratifying the vulgar curiosity that serves to distinguish man from the lower animals.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
X, n. In our alphabet being a needless letter has an added invincibility to the attacks of the spelling reformers, and like them, will doubtless last as long as the language.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
POSTERITY, n. An appellate court which reverses the judgment of a popular author's contemporaries, the appellant being his obscure competitor.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EXPOSTULATION, n. One of the many methods by which fools prefer to lose their friends.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HEATHEN, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
REDEMPTION, n. Deliverance of sinners from the penalty of their sin, through their murder of the deity against whom they sinned ... whoso believeth in it shall not perish, but have everlasting life in which to try to understand it.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IMMIGRANT, n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PREFERENCE, n. A sentiment, or frame of mind, induced by the erroneous belief that one thing is better than another.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DIAPHRAGM, n. A muscular partition separating disorders of the chest from disorders of the bowels.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ABRUPT, adj. Sudden, without ceremony, like the arrival of a cannon-shot and the departure of the soldier whose interests are most affected by it.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RITE, n. A religious or semi-religious ceremony fixed by law, precept or custom, with the essential oil of sincerity carefully squeezed out of it.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MACE, n. A staff of office signifying authority. Its form, that of a heavy club, indicates its original purpose and use in dissuading from dissent.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CONDOLE, v.i. To show that bereavement is a smaller evil than sympathy.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HARMONISTS, n. A sect of Protestants, now extinct, who came from Europe in the beginning of the last century and were distinguished for the bitterness of their internal controversies and dissensions.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RUBBISH, n. Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions lying due south from Boreaplas.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PANTHEISM, n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PHONOGRAPH, n. An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RADIUM, n. A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ that a scientist is a fool with.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
GOUT, n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RANSOM, n. The purchase of that which neither belongs to the seller, nor can belong to the buyer. The most unprofitable of investments.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RIMER, n. A poet regarded with indifference or disesteem.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ALLIANCE, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MONUMENT, n. A structure intended to commemorate something which either needs no commemoration or cannot be commemorated.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
SORCERY, n. The ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence. It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was punished by torture and death.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PHYSICIAN, n. One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PUBLISH, n. In literary affairs, to become the fundamental element in a cone of critics.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RHADOMANCER, n. One who uses a divining-rod in prospecting for precious metals in the pocket of a fool.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MALEFACTOR, n. The chief factor in the progress of the human race.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PREJUDICE, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
REAR, n. In American military matters, that exposed part of the army that is nearest to Congress.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
COMMERCE, n. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PLEONASM, n. An army of words escorting a corporal of thought.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
GEOGRAPHER, n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside of the world and the inside.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
REPUBLIC, n. A nation in which, the thing governing and the thing governed being the same, there is only a permitted authority to enforce an optional obedience.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
APOSTATE, n. A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EMOTION, n. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CLOCK, n. A machine of great moral value to man, allaying his concern for the future by reminding him what a lot of time remains to him.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EXCEPTION, n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PLEBEIAN, n. An ancient Roman who in the blood of his country stained nothing but his hands. Distinguished from the Patrician, who was a saturated solution.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
LOQUACITY, n. A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OBSERVATORY, n. A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses of their predecessors.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
INCOMPATIBILITY, n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination. Incompatibility may, however, consist of a meek-eyed matron living just around the corner. It has even been known to wear a moustache.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
THEOSOPHY, n. An ancient faith having all the certitude of religion and all the mystery of science.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MIRACLE, n. An act or event out of the order of nature and unaccountable, as beating a normal hand of four kings and an ace with four aces and a king.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MEANDER, n. To proceed sinuously and aimlessly. The word is the ancient name of a river about one hundred and fifty miles south of Troy, which turned and twisted in the effort to get out of hearing when the Greeks and Trojans boasted of their prowess.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
INVENTOR, n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers, and springs, and believes it civilization.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RACK, n. An argumentative implement formerly much used in persuading devotees of a false faith to embrace the living truth. As a call to the unconverted the rack never had any particular efficacy, and is now held in light popular esteem.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CHARITY, n. a thing that begins at home and usually stays there.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PITIFUL, adj. The state of an enemy of opponent after an imaginary encounter with oneself.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
NIHILIST, n. A Russian who denies the existence of anything but Tolstoi. The leader of the school is Tolstoi.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RIBALDRY, n. Censorious language by another concerning oneself.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OVERWORK, n. A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
SIREN, n. One of several musical prodigies famous for a vain attempt to dissuade Odysseus from a life on the ocean wave. Figuratively, any lady of splendid promise, dissembled purpose and disappointing performance.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MAYONNAISE, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
QUIXOTIC, adj. Absurdly chivalric, like Don Quixote. An insight into the beauty and excellence of this incomparable adjective is unhappily denied to him who has the misfortune to know that the gentleman's name is pronounced Ke-ho-tay.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RUSSIAN, n. A person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul. A Tartar Emetic.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RASCALITY, n. Stupidity militant. The activity of a clouded intellect.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HOMOEOPATHY, n. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they can not.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OPTIMIST, n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white. A pessimist applied to God for relief.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ROAD, n. A strip of land along which one may pass from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
TALK, v.t. To commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an impulse without purpose.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ORTHODOX, n. An ox wearing the popular religious joke.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OUT-OF-DOORS, n. That part of one's environment upon which no government has been able to collect taxes. Chiefly useful to inspire poets.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
WALL STREET, n. A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HATCHET, n. A young axe, known among Indians as a Thomashawk.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
UBIQUITY, n. The gift or power of being in all places at one time, but not in all places at all times, which is omnipresence, an attribute of God and the luminiferous ether only.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PIRACY, n. Commerce without its folly-swaddles, just as God made it.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EJECTION, n. An approved remedy for the disease of garrulity. It is also much used in cases of extreme poverty.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CAT, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
FUNERAL, n. A pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker, and strengthen our grief by an expenditure that deepens our groans and doubles our tears.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RIGHT, n. Legitimate authority to be, to do or to have; as the right to be a king, the right to do one's neighbor, the right to have measles, and the like.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DELEGATION, n. In American politics, an article of merchandise that comes in sets.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
INDIGESTION, n. A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
BEGGAR, n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RECTOR, n. In the Church of England, the Third Person of the parochial Trinity, the Cruate and the Vicar being the other two.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
NOISE, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
YOUTH, n. The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
POETRY, n. A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the Magazines.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
GOOD, adj. Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer. Alive, sir, to the advantages of letting him alone.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DISSEMBLE, v.i. To put a clean shirt upon the character.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MANICHEISM, n. The ancient Persian doctrine of an incessant warfare between Good and Evil. When Good gave up the fight the Persians joined the victorious Opposition.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
DIAGNOSIS, n. A physician's forecast of the disease by the patient's pulse and purse.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
CONTROVERSY, n. A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MARTYR, n. One who moves along the line of least reluctance to a desired death.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
END, n. The position farthest removed on either hand from the Interlocutor.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OPTIMISM, n. The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HAND, n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody's pocket.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
LOGANIMITY, n. The disposition to endure injury with meek forbearance while maturing a plan of revenge.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
BAROMETER, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MAGIC, n. An art of converting superstition into coin. There are other arts serving the same high purpose, but the discreet lexicographer does not name them.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RITUALISM, n. A Dutch Garden of God where He may walk in rectilinear freedom, keeping off the grass.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HUMANITY, n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
There's nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MEDICINE, n. A stone flung down the Bowery to kill a dog in Broadway.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
OBSOLETE, adj. No longer used by the timid. Said chiefly of words. A word which some lexicographer has marked obsolete is ever thereafter an object of dread and loathing to the fool writer.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
RAMSHACKLE, adj. Pertaining to a certain order of architecture, otherwise known as the Normal American. Most of the public buildings of the United States are of the Ramshackle order, though some of our earlier architects preferred the Ironic.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PANDEMONIUM, n. Literally, the Place of All the Demons. Most of them have escaped into politics and finance, and the place is now used as a lecture hall by the Audible Reformer.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IMPROVIDENCE, n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues of to-morrow.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
AGE, n. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we no longer have the enterprise to commit.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
Cannibal, n. A gastronome of the old school who preserves the simple tastes and adheres to the natural diet of the pre-pork period.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between sin and punishment.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
LAWFUL, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
SARCOPHAGUS, n. Among the Greeks a coffin which being made of a certain kind of carnivorous stone, had the peculiar property of devouring the body placed in it.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PHILISTINE, n. One whose mind is the creature of its environment, following the fashion in thought, feeling and sentiment. He is sometimes learned, frequently prosperous, commonly clean and always solemn.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
QUILL, n. An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly wielded by an ass. This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting Presence.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
SERIAL, n. A literary work, usually a story that is not true, creeping through several issues of a newspaper or magazine.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
REVELATION, n. A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators, who know nothing.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
HOSPITALITY, n. The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PLAGIARIZE, v. To take the thought or style of another writer whom one has never, never read.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
ZEUS, n. The chief of Grecian gods, adored by the Romans as Jupiter and by the modern Americans as God, Gold, Mob and Dog.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
MIND, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
PLEBISCITE, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
GNOSTICS, n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers.
—  Ambrose Gwinett Bierce

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