What's your favorite Ambrose Bierce definition from the Devil's Dictionary?

+15 votes

The subject of our Profile of the Week, Ambrose Bierce (a 7th cousin 3 times removed), may be best remembered for his Devil's Dictionary.

His definition of an Historian: n. A broad-gauge gossip.

His definition of Genealogy: n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.

What's your favorite Bierce definition?

WikiTree profile: Ambrose Bierce
in The Tree House by T Stanton G2G6 Pilot (156k points)
edited by T Stanton
I have not read his book recently to have what he wrote fresh in my mind. There is another book that has a similar title, The "Devil's Dictionary of Finance." One quote in that was the definition of "Day Trader."

11 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

Hard to pin down. I have the Folio Society edition, 2004 (with the box).

Pedigree, n. The known part of the route from an arboreal ancestor with a swim bladder to an urban descendant with a cigarette.

Cemetery, n.  An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target, and stone-cutters spell for a wager.

Interregnum, n.  The period during which a monarchical country is governed by a warm spot on the cushion of the throne. The experiment of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm again.

by Aaron Gullison G2G6 Mach 4 (49.5k points)
selected by T Stanton
I have the Folio Society edition 2003.
+12 votes

SOURCER, n. The ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence. It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was punished by torture and death. Augustine Nicholas relates that a poor peasant who had been accused of sourcing was put to the torture to compel a confession. After enduring a few gentle agonies the suffering simpleton admitted his guilt, but naïvely asked his tormentors if it were not possible to be a sourcer without knowing it.

by Richard Devlin G2G6 Pilot (233k points)
+14 votes

GENEALOGYn, An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.

by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (322k points)
+12 votes
I don't have a favorite definition. Every time I decide that I have found my favorite, an even better one comes along. In my opinion, one of the greatest books ever written.
by David Carlson G2G6 Mach 4 (46.1k points)
+8 votes

They are all so good. Here's a particularly good one.

Christiann.  One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
+8 votes

Patience – A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.

by Deborah Pate G2G6 Mach 4 (42.4k points)
+8 votes

My eyes have only traveled as far as the G's.  My favorite to that point is:  Grave n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.

by Vallery Dietrich G2G1 (1.8k points)
+5 votes
Divorce. n. A bugle blast that separates the combatants and makes them fight at long range.
by Jo Gill G2G6 Mach 9 (91.6k points)
+3 votes

Sauce, n:The one infallible sign of civilization & enlightenment.  A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one sauces has only nine hundred & ninety nine.  For every sauce invented & accepted, a vice is renounced & forgiven.

by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 1 (16.9k points)
+3 votes

Wine, n: fermented grape juice known to the Women's Christian Union as "liquor" or sometimes as "rum."  Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man.

by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 1 (16.9k points)
+3 votes

Once, adj. enough

by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 1 (16.9k points)

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