Tag Archives: heterodox

The Devil’s Dictionary: Orthodox and Heterodox

Every now and then, it is good to revisit a classic, or even a curiosity from the past. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce was 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 abasement. The first definition is Bierce’s. The second one 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:
Orthodox, n. An ox wearing the popular religious yoke.

New definition:
Orthodox, n. An ox wearing the popular religious, political, or other social yoke. Especially true during an election year, and even more so as the “election year” becomes more than one year. The yoke gets broader and narrower at the same time, covering more of the ox, but holding him tighter and tighter. See also Heterodox.

Heterodox, n. More than one ox being yoked. Used to be a man didn’t care about another man’s yoke, as long as it wasn’t his ox getting gored. Nowadays, there are more yokes than oxen, so be careful or the yoke may be on you. If not careful, both orthodox and heterodox can lead to a bad case of oxymoron. That’s where your ox gets told how stupid it is, and the yoke becomes even tighter.


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Filed under Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary, heterodoxy, humor, orthodoxy, puns, satire, Uncategorized, word play