Lady Jane's Reviews > The Devil's Dictionary

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Oct 16, 2011

it was amazing

In honor of Dictionary Day (October 16), I decided to look through my beloved PDF copy of Devil's Dictionary, my favorite dictionary of all time! The unabridged version contains over one thousand words with politically incorrect, but delightfully honest definitions in which Ambrose Bierce displays his typically sardonic wit as he takes the liberty to describe things as they are, and not as they ought to be. Despite the seeming pessimism of this work, there is nothing to grieve over, quite the contrary-- it produces unbearable laughter as the mirror is shown to humanity and readers see through their typically human flaws and inconsistencies. Laughter is one of the healthiest activities in which the human being can engage, and if we can laugh at ourselves, we'll never miss the recommended dose of daily laughter! For those who cannot laugh at the wit found in this book, it is probably because it felt like an insult, and it was most probably well-deserved. ;)

Here are some of my favorite definitions. Enjoy!

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.

POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of
principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

HISTORIAN, n. A broad-gauge gossip.

HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant,
which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly

RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the
nature of the Unknowable.

SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.

ABSURDITY, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with
one's own opinion.

JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which
can be lost only if not worth keeping.

SELFISH, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.

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

FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks
without knowledge, of things without parallel.

LIFE, n. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay. We live
in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed.
The question, "Is life worth living?" has been much discussed;
particularly by those who think it is not, many of whom have written
at great length in support of their view and by careful observance of
the laws of health enjoyed for long terms of years the honors of
successful controversy.

FAMOUS, adj. Conspicuously miserable.

MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.

FRIENDLESS, adj. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune.
Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.

FRIENDSHIP, n. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but
only one in foul.

You can get your own free copy through Project Gutenburg, as I did!

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Devil's Dictionary.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.