Tag Archives: Devil’s Dictionary

The Devil’s Dictionary: “Egotist”

A young Ambrose Bierce

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here is a definition for the word Egotist. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definition is mine. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION
Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

Megaceph, chosen to serve the State
In the halls of legislative debate,
One day with all his credentials came
To the capitol’s door and announced his name.
The doorkeeper looked, with a comical twist
Of the face, at the eminent egotist,
And said: “Go away, for we settle here
All manner of questions, knotty and queer,
And we cannot have, when the speaker demands
To be told how every member stands,
A man who to all things under the sky
Assents by eternally voting ‘I’.”

 

NEW DEFINITION
Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. See, Donald J. Trump

Donald, chose to run for president
Saying only he could truly represent
The interest of those who had been ignored
Or in some other way had been deplored.
He marched into office, saying hugely
It was and always about yours truly.
What some still fail to understand
Is that “yours truly” is about the man
And not a form of salutation
Meant for the greater good of the nation.
It has always been about him:
The hymn of him, of him the hymn.

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The Devil’s Dictionary: Populist and Pray

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here is a definition for the words Populist and Pray. The Old definition is Bierce’s. The New definition is, in many cases, an update. Sometimes little change is needed. Sometimes more. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION
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.”

PRAY, n. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

NEW DEFINITION
POPULIST, n. A fossil patriot of the post-industrial period, found in the faulty towers, broken university, and failed airline (to name a few endeavors) of ignorance plus arrogance added to money; characterized by an uncommon spread of hair, which some naturalists contend could be a species in its own right, if only they had time to closely exam it. In the picturesque speech of his period, some fragments of which have come down to us, he was known as “The Huuge Mouth from Manhattan.”

PRAY, n. 1) What the other candidates claimed they did after God told them to run for the highest office in the land, which they all failed at famously. 2) To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a certain party petitioning, though confessedly unworthy, that their Populist decides to either drop dead or drop out. 3) What you do when here the populist of this party speak. 4) What politicians do in lieu of doing any real work to solve a problem, such as after a mass shooting when politicians say, “Our prayers and our hearts go out to the victims of this tragedy,” begging the question: is it the tragedy of the event or the tragedy of your inaction for which you are praying?

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The Devil’s Dictionary: Presidency and President

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here is a definition for the words Presidency and President. The Old definition is Bierce’s. The New definition is, in many cases, an update. Sometimes little change is needed. Sometimes more. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION
PRESIDENCY, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics.

PRESIDENT, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom — and of whom only — it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

If that’s an honor surely ’tis a greater
To have been a simple and undamned spectator.
Behold in me a man of mark and note
Whom no elector e’er denied a vote! —
An undiscredited, unhooted gent
Who might, for all we know, be President
By acclimation. Cheer, ye varlets, cheer —
I’m passing with a wide and open ear!

—Jonathan Fomry

NEW DEFINITION
PRESIDENCY, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics, captured all too often at the expense of money equal to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product, emphasis on Gross) of a small to medium-sized country.

PRESIDENT, n. The leading figure in a small group of men or women of whom — and of whom only — it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

As you now know, I will not go —
To leave would be insane.
I’ve run the race; this is my place
From Alaska down over to Maine.
For those who wish for less of this
I hear your sad, sad refrain.
But let me be clear, or perfectly clear:
I won, you lost, lame brain.
You’re stuck with me, from sea to sea
For four years or more sustained.
So get over it; crawl out of your pit,
Let your hopes seep down the drain.

—President Orpheus C. Kerr

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The Devil’s Dictionary: “Abscond”

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

For example, here is a definition for the words Corporation and Congress. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definition is mine. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION

Abscond, v.i. To “move in a mysterious way,” commonly with the property of another.

Spring beckons! All things to the call respond;
The trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.

–Phela Orm

NEW DEFINITION

Abscond, v.i. To “move in a mysterious way,” commonly with the property of another, usually a lobbyist in order to the bidding of “the people” as conveyed by the lobbyist to the politician. The people in this case being the person, persons, or corporation that hired the lobbyist(s).

Elections beckon! All candidates to the lobbyists respond;
The people are leaving and the politicians abscond.
–d.e.b.

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New words to live by: “Biercism”

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

“Cynic. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”
–Ambrose Bierce

Biercism, n. dry wit on par with that of Ambrose Bierce.

Old biercism (original): Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease, like caries and many other ailments, is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.

Modern biercism: Love, n. a meeting of the mind and the loins, one hopes somewhere around the heart. A volatile mixture often given to displays of insanity, vitriol, and occasionally violence. The world seems turned upside down by love – and often is. You fall in love and fall out of love, but the violence appears to be less to the shins, knees, hands, arms, or back, and more to the internal organs.

[Editor’s note: one might consider this both a new word to live byand a Devil’s Dictionary entry all mashed up (or rolled up) into one. In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries. Click on new word or new words below to see some other new words, such as congressed or obsurd or fogget or awfulizer. Words that should be in the modern lexicon, but aren’t … yet.]

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The Devil’s Dictionary: “Academe, Academy, University”

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here are definitions for Academe and Academy. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definitions are mine or somebody else contemporary. The new definitions can also be simply examples of The Devil’s Dictionary definitions. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITIONS:

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

ACADEMY, n. (from academe). A modern school where football is taught.

NEW DEFINITIONS:

ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. (No such place exists in America today.)

ACADEMY, n. (from academe). A modern school where football is taught.

UNIVERSITY, n. A very modern school where only football is taught. It is also often the moral and philosophical code of many of the students, alumni, and politicians of such institutions. Such universities belong to aggregations that go by acronyms such as SEC, Big Ten, ACC, etc. Such Universities also serve the One True Higher Authority: the ABS — the Almighty Buck Speaks. Like any true higher authority, often times what is enunciated by the ABS and what is heard by the Students, Alumni, and Politicians (SAPs) are a Babel of pontifications.

[Editor’s note: Bierce did not have a definition for University, such has football grown since his time. Also note, there are some Universities where basketball is substituted for football. ]

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The Devil’s Dictionary: “Corporation, Congress, Lobbyist, Tea Party”

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here is a definition for the words Corporation and Congress. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definition is mine. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Congress, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws.

NEW DEFINITION
Corporation, n.The only think I could add to corporation is: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. Peopled with overcompensated executives whose sole purpose is to privatize the profit and socialize the debt. In the vernacular: heads, I win (I get to keep the profit); tails you lose (You have to cover the bad debts).

A fine example of a place where congressing takes place. A place where good governing goes to die.

A fine example of a place where congressing takes place. A place where good governing goes to die.

Congress, n. A body of men and women who meet to repeal laws, generally at the behest of a corporation. This is now true of both the federal Congress and the state Congresses throughout the U.S.

Lobbyist, n. Paid influence peddler, bag man for the corporation, general thief in the night whose sole purpose on behalf of corporations is to see that Congress understands which laws are to be repealed or weakened, and how this should be done, particularly since too many lobbyists are former elected officials. Lobbyists can promote on behalf of other entities and not only corporations, but the goal is generally the same.

Tea Party, n. Cult subset of the GOP, and thus a subset of Congress. Money fueled by extreme right wing corporations and billionaires. Known for lack of ability to get what it wants, so it succeeds at punishing everybody, especially the GOP, of which it is supposedly part. Claims to be for personal responsibility, except when taking responsibility for its actions. Then it blames the media and the Washington establishment.
[Editor’s note: lobbyist and Tea Party were not terms in use when The Devil’s Dictionary was created. This entry was originally listed in 2012, but is updated to include the Tea Party. ]

Final word:
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” –MARK TWAIN

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The Devil’s Dictionary: “Law,” part 1

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here are definitions related to the law. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definitions are mine or somebody else contemporary. The new definitions can also be simply examples of The Devil’s Dictionary definitions. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION:

APPEAL, v.t. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.

ARREST, v.t. Formally to detain one accused of unusualness.
God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh. –The Unauthorized Version

FORMA PAUPERIS. [Latin] In the character of a poor person–a method by which a litigant without money for lawyers is considerately
permitted to lose his case.

When Adam long ago in Cupid’s awful court
(For Cupid ruled ere Adam was invented)
Sued for Eve’s favor, says an ancient law report,
He stood and pleaded unhabilimented.
“You sue in forma pauperis, I see,” Eve cried;
“Actions can’t here be that way prosecuted.”
So all poor Adam’s motions coldly were denied:
He went away — as he had come — nonsuited.
G.J.

HABEAS CORPUS. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime.

HANGMAN, n. An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity have recently been ordered—the first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen.

HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another–the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.

NEW DEFINITION

APPEAL, v.t. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw. If you have enough money, you can keep throwing until you get the role you want.

ARREST, v.t. Formally to detain one accused of unusualness or even being a little different.
God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh. –The Unauthorized Version

FORMA PAUPERIS. [Latin] In the character of a poor person–a method by which a litigant without money for lawyers is considerately
permitted to lose his case.

When Adam long ago in Cupid’s awful court
(For Cupid ruled ere Adam was invented)
Sued for Eve’s favor, says an ancient law report,
He stood and pleaded unhabilimented.
“You sue in forma pauperis, I see,” Eve cried;
“Actions can’t here be that way prosecuted.”
So all poor Adam’s motions coldly were denied:
He went away — as he had come — nonsuited.
G.J.

If you cannot afford an attorney in a crime case, one can be appointed for you. Of course, he or she might not be making much more money than you.

HABEAS CORPUS. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime. How he was confined to begin with, one may never know given how long it might before the writ is written.

HANGMAN, n. An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity have recently been ordered—the first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen.

A way of making a habeas corpus into a plain corpus.

Today this has been replaced in most states by injection. Contributes less to climate change (global warming) this way.

HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another — the classification is for advantage of the lawyers and certain segments of the media who present opinion reportedly under the guise of news.

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The Devil’s Dictionary: “Alien, Alliance, Ambidextrous, Ambition, Amnesty”

A young Ambrose Bierce

A young Ambrose Bierce


In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here are definitions for Alien, Alliance, Ambidextrous, Ambition, and Amnesty. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definitions are mine or somebody else contemporary. The new definitions can also be simply examples of The Devil’s Dictionary definitions. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITION:

ALIEN, n. An American sovereign in his probationary state.

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.

AMBIDEXTROUS, adj. Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.

AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.

AMNESTY, n. The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.

NEW DEFINITIONS:

(ILLEGAL) ALIEN, n. An un-American scofflaw unable to achieve a probationary state of any sort, at least as seen by some radical conservative elements. For them ALIEN is always preceded by ILLEGAL. This distinguishes him from the American scofflaw, who with enough money and AMBITION can form at least one ALLIANCE in which he can pick the pockets of friends and foes alike.

ALLIANCE, n. In National and 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. However, as a grouped entity they often find a way to plunder others. The NRA plus the GOP being one fine example of how two groups manage to plunder a third, even to the point of death.

AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead. (Nothing much new need be added to this.)

AMNESTY, n. The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish or who have enough money to acquire amnesty as one acquires a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card in Monopoly. In other words, it would be too “expensive” to ignore the offer.

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The Devil’s Dictionary: “Absurdity, Adherent, Administration, Admiration, and Admonition”

In our continuing quest to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past and see how relevant it is, we continue with The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in newspaper installments from 1881 until 1906. You might be surprised how current many of the entries are.

For example, here are definitions for Absurdity, Adherent, Administration, Admiration, and Admonition. The Old definitions are Bierce’s. The New definitions are mine or somebody else contemporary. The new definitions can also be simply examples of The Devil’s Dictionary definitions. From time to time, just as it was originally published, we will come back to The Devil’s Dictionary, for a look at it then and how it applies today. Click on Devil’s Dictionary in the tags below to bring up the other entries.

OLD DEFINITIONS:

Absurdity, n. A statement of belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.

Adherent, n. A follower who has no yet obtained all that he expects to get.

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.

Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

Admonition, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning:
Consigned by way of admonition,
His soul forever to perdition.
Judibras

NEW DEFINITIONS:

Absurdity, n. A statement of belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own, but accepted none-the-less as truth because it has been spoken of often enough by enough commentators and talking heads so as to make it real.

Adherent, n. A follower of an absurdity (or several) who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get from his or her absurdities. For example: Those who say they want less federal government involvement in their lives while living in a state that gets more in federal money than it pays in.

Administration, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president.
Example: In the news: On December 7th of last year, the Administration hung a banner on an air craft carrier announcing that the war was over. “Mission Accomplished,” it read. When asked about this today, the straw man said, “I never said that.”

Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves, up to and including our own adherence to the same absurdity. “He’s a man I’d like to have a beer with,” one voter said in remarking why he voted for the teetotaler running for office.

Admonition, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning.
Damned by Fox news admonition,
His liberal soul forever to perdition.

The Adherent was advised of the absurdity in believing everything the administration was saying. But the adherent's admiration knew no bounds, and then he became an abomination and received the highest compliment: an admonition from those he admired.

The Adherent was advised of the absurdity in believing everything the Administration said. But the Adherent’s admiration knew no bounds, and then he became an abomination and received the highest compliment: an admonition from those he admired.

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