Quotations by Bierce, Ambrose


The fact that boys are allowed to exist at all is evidence of remarkable Christian forbearance among men — were it not for a mawkish humanitarianism, coupled with imperfect digestive powers, we should devour our young, as Nature intended.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Town Crier” column, San Francisco News-Letter (c. 1870)
Added on 23-Dec-15 | Last updated 23-Dec-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

The covers of this book are too far apart.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
(Attributed)

One-sentence book review. First attributed to Bierce in 1923, but showing up in anonymous humor as early as 1899. See here for more information.
Added on 31-Mar-16 | Last updated 31-Mar-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

The most intolerant advocate is he who is trying to convince himself.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 18-Sep-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 24-Sep-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

If public opinion were determined by a throw of the dice, it would in the long run be half the time right.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 29-Sep-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

Grief and discomfiture are coals that cool: 
Why keep them glowing with thy sighs, poor fool?

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 6-Oct-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

“There’s no free will,” says the philosopher;
   “To hang is most unjust.”
“There is no free will,” assents the officer;
   “We hang because we must.”

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 14-Oct-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

A slight is less easily forgiven than an injury, because it implies something of contempt, indifference, an overlooking of our importance; whereas an injury presupposes some degree of consideration. “The black-guards!” said a traveler whom Sicilian brigands had released without ransom; “did they think me a person of no consequence?”

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 24-Oct-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 29-Oct-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

In childhood we expect, in youth demand, in manhood hope, and in age beseech.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 5-Nov-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

To parents only, death brings an inconsolable sorrow. When the young die and the old live, nature’s machinery is working with the friction that we name grief.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)

Full text.

Added on 12-Nov-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think we think.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Feb-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

ACQUAINTANCE, n. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. A degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 24-Jan-13 | Last updated 24-Jan-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

ABSTAINER, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A Total Abstainer is one who abstains from everything, but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)
Added on 12-Mar-13 | Last updated 17-Jul-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

ARCHITECT, n. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 9-Jan-14 | Last updated 9-Jan-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 24-Jul-14 | Last updated 24-Jul-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

RESPONSIBILITY, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 5-Jan-16 | Last updated 5-Jan-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 16-May-16 | Last updated 16-May-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

Apologize, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offense.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)
Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Absurdity” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Admiration” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you don’t entertain.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Bigot” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Bore” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

CHRISTIAN, n.  One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Christian” (1906)
Added on 18-Feb-09 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them others.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Conservative” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Corporation” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things the way they are, and not as they ought to be.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Cynic” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

DEBAUCHEE, n. One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to overtake it.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Debauchee” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

DESTINY, n. A tyrant’s authority for crime, and a fool’s excuse for failure.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Destiny” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

DIARY, n. A daily record of that part of one’s life, which he can relate to himself without blushing.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Diary” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Diplomacy” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Discussion” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

DISTANCE, n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs, and keep.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Distance” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Education” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Egotist” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

FAMOUS, adj. Conspicuously miserable.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Famous” (1906)
Added on 26-Feb-10 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “History” (1906)
Added on 7-Jan-11 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Impiety” (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

SAINT, n. A dead sinner, revised and edited.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
Added on 2-Aug-13 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
Added on 14-Mar-14 | Last updated 14-Mar-14
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

MISFORTUNE, n. The kind of fortune that never misses.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Misfortune” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

PEACE, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Peace” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Politics” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

POSITIVE, adj. Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Positive” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Pray” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

PREDICAMENT, n. The wage of consistency.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Predicatment” (1911)
Added on 10-Apr-09 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

PREJUDICE, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Prejudice” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

QUOTATION, n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Quotation” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

RADICALISM, n. The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Radicalism” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

RASH, adj. Insensible to the value of our advice.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Rash” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

RECONSIDER, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Reconsider” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

REFERENDUM, n. A law for submission of proposed legislation to a popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Referendum” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

RESOLUTE, adj. Obstinate in a course that we approve.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Resolute” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

REVERENCE, n. The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Reverence” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

RUMOR, n. A favorite weapon of the assassins of character.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Rumor” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

SCRIPTURES, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Scriptures” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

SELF-EVIDENT, adj. Evident to one’s self and to nobody else.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Self-Evident” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

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

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Selfish” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose

In religion we believe only what we do not understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that contradicts an incomprehensible one. In that case we believe the former as a part of the latter.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Trinity” (1911)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Bierce, Ambrose