Quotations 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
“Abstainer,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 12-Mar-13 | Last updated 20-Apr-23
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ABSURDITY, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Absurdity,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

In later versions, Bierce added:

2. The argument of an opponent. A belief in which one has not had the misfortune to be instructed.
 
Added on 24-Jul-14 | Last updated 2-May-23
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ACCOUNTABILITY, n. The mother of caution.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Accountability,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

Originally published in his "Cynic's Word Book" column in the New York American (1904-07-09) and "Cynic's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Examiner (1904-07-17) as "the mother of remorse and great first cause of penitence."
 
Added on 25-Sep-23 | Last updated 26-Sep-23
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ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another’s guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Accuse,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

Originally published in the "Cynic's Word Book" column, New York American (1904-07-09) and the "Cynic's Dictionary" column, San Francisco Examiner (1904-07-17).
 
Added on 3-Oct-23 | Last updated 3-Oct-23
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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
“Acquaintance,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 24-Jan-13 | Last updated 11-Apr-23
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ADMIRABILITY, n. My kind of ability, as distinguished from your kind of ability.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Admirability,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Not included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-05-12)
 
Added on 24-Oct-23 | Last updated 16-Jan-24
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ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Admiration,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Jun-23
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AGE, n. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the enterprise to commit.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Age,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-02-12).
 
Added on 19-Dec-23 | Last updated 19-Dec-23
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AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Ambition,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp, where the entry read:

An overmastering desire to be abused by the newspapers during life, and have an epitaph by Hector A. Stuart after death.

Bierce frequently mocked the verse of Stuart, a San Francisco poet.
 
Added on 31-Oct-23 | Last updated 31-Oct-23
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APOLOGIZE, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offense.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Apologize,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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ARCHITECT, n. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money; who estimates the whole cost, and himself costs the whole estimate.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Architect,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911), but just the first clause.
 
Added on 9-Jan-14 | Last updated 25-Apr-23
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BACCHUS, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Bacchus,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-04-23).
 
Added on 7-Nov-23 | Last updated 7-Nov-23
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BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Beard,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-04-30).
 
Added on 14-Nov-23 | Last updated 14-Nov-23
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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
“Bigot,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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BLANK-VERSE, n. Unrhymed iambic pentameters — the most difficult kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Blank-verse,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-05-14). In that version, it included the final sentence:

Of all English and American poets not a half-dozen have been able to write good blank-verse; and the six hundred Californian poets are not among them.
 
Added on 28-Nov-23 | Last updated 28-Nov-23
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BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Bore,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Aug-23
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BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Brain,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Apr-23
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CALAMITY, n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Calamity,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 16-May-23
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CHRISTIAN, n. 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.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Christian,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 18-Feb-09 | Last updated 22-Aug-23
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COMMENDATION, n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resemble, but do not equal, our own.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Commendation,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-08-05).
 
Added on 26-Dec-23 | Last updated 26-Dec-23
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COMPROMISE, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Compromise,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-08-12).
 
Added on 2-Jan-24 | Last updated 2-Jan-24
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CONGRATULATION, n. The civility of envy.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Congratulation,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 4-Oct-21 | Last updated 13-Jun-23
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CONGRATULATION, n. The civility of envy.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Congratulation,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-08-12).
 
Added on 9-Jan-24 | Last updated 9-Jan-24
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CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Conservative,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Aug-23
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CONSULT, v.t. To seek another’s approval to a course already decided on.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Consult,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-08-26).
 
Added on 16-Jan-24 | Last updated 16-Jan-24
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CONVERSATION, n. A fair for the display of the minor mental commodities, each exhibitor being too intent upon the arrangement of his own wares to observe those of his neighbor.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Conversation,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-08-26).
 
Added on 5-Dec-23 | Last updated 5-Dec-23
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CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Corporation,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Sep-23
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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
“Cynic,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

Originally appeared in his "The Cynic's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-10-28).

In his "Town Crier" column in the News Letter (1872-03-09), he wrapped up his personal philosophy so: "And, finally, most important of all, endeavor to see things as they are, not as they ought to be."

 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Sep-23
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DAWN, n. The time when men of reason go to bed. Certain old men prefer to rise at about that time, taking a cold bath and a long walk, with an empty stomach, and otherwise mortifying the flesh. They then point with pride to these practices as the cause of their sturdy health and ripe years; the truth being that they are hearty and old, not because of their habits, but in spite of them. The reason we find only robust persons doing this thing is that it has killed all the others who have tried it.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Dawn,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-12-02).
 
Added on 23-Jan-24 | Last updated 23-Jan-24
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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
“Debauchee,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-12-02).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Oct-23
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Thou shalt no God but me adore:
‘Twere too expensive to have more.
No images nor idols make
For Robert Ingersoll to break.
Take not God’s name in vain; select
A time when it will have effect.
Work not on Sabbath days at all,
But go to see the teams play ball.
Honor thy parents. That creates
For life insurance lower rates.
Kill not, abet not those who kill;
Thou shalt not pay thy butcher’s bill.
Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife, unless
Thine own thy neighbor doth caress.
Don’t steal; thou’lt never thus compete
Successfully in business. Cheat.
Bear not false witness — that is low —
But “hear ’tis rumored so and so.”
Covet thou naught that thou hast not
By hook or crook, or somehow, got.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Decalogue,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-12-02).

The poem is signed "G.J." in reference to Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J., a (fake) Jesuit priest Bierce often "cited" for poetry on religious topics. In his preface to The Devil's Dictionary (1911), he includes the note:

A conspicuous, and it is hoped not unpleasant, feature of the book is its abundant illustrative quotations from eminent poets, chief of whom is that learned and ingenious cleric, Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J., whose lines bear his initials. To Father Jape's kindly encouragement and assistance the author of the prose text is greatly indebted.

Robert Ingersoll was a famous agnostic and lecturer, frequently defended by Bierce in his newspaper columns.

In the original Wasp version, the Fourth Commandment read "Work not on Sabbath days at all, / Nor dare to read the Sunday Call." Bierce crowed in the next (1881-12-09) issue that at the same time as the poem was written, a newsdealer in Watsonville, Calif., was convicted of an infraction of the "Sunday Law" in selling that paper on the day of its publication. "We could hardly have hoped that our revised Decalogue would so soon be adopted as the law of the land."

Bierce returned to the theme in "The New Decalogue" (1887).

Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.
Adore no images save those
The coinage of thy country shows.
Take not the Name in vain. Direct
Thy swearing unto some effect.
Thy hand from Sunday work be held --
Work not at all unless compelled.
Honor thy parents, and perchance
Their wills thy fortunes may advance.
Kill not -- death liberates thy foe
From persecution’s constant woe.
Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife. Of course
There’s no objection to divorce.
To steal were folly, for ’tis plain
In cheating there is greater gain.
Bear not false witness. Shake your head
And say that you have “heard it said.”
Who stays to covet ne’er will catch
An opportunity to snatch.

 
Added on 6-Feb-24 | Last updated 6-Feb-24
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DELUGE, n. A notable first experiment in baptism which washed away the sins (and sinners) of the world.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Deluge,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-01-20).

The original Wasp entry included a second sentence: "Since then it has been deemed advisable to let the sinners remain on their good behavior."
 
Added on 12-Mar-24 | Last updated 12-Mar-24
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DENTIST, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Dentist,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-02-17).
 
Added on 20-Mar-24 | Last updated 20-Mar-24
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DESTINY, n. A tyrant’s authority for crime, and a fool’s excuse for failure.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Destiny,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

In the original entry, published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-03-03), the definition was given as:

A force alleged to control affairs, principally quoted by erring human beings to excuse their failures.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jan-24
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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
“Diary,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-05-24).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Feb-24
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DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Diplomacy,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-03-24).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Feb-24
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DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Discussion,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-04-02).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Mar-24
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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
“Distance,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1882-04-02).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Apr-24
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LAUGHTER, n. An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable. Liability to attacks of laughter is one of the characteristics distinguishing man from the animals — these being not only inaccessible to the provocation of his example, but impregnable to the microbes having original jurisdiction in bestowal of the disease. Whether laughter could be imparted to animals by inoculation from the human patient is a question that has not been answered by experimentation. Dr. Meir Witchell holds that the infection character of laughter is due to the instantaneous fermentation of sputa diffused in a spray. From this peculiarity he names the disorder Convulsio spargens.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Laughter,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
    (Source)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1886-05-01).
 
Added on 30-Mar-23 | Last updated 30-Jan-24
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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
“President,” The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
    (Source)

Originally published in the "Cynic's Word Book" column in the New York American (1906-06-14).
 
Added on 16-May-16 | Last updated 30-Jan-24
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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
“Responsibility,” The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
    (Source)
 
Added on 5-Jan-16 | Last updated 30-Jan-24
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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
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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
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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
San Francisco News-Letter, “Town Crier” column (c. 1870)
 
Added on 23-Dec-15 | Last updated 11-Apr-23
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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
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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
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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
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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
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“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
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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)

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Added on 24-Oct-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-12
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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)
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Added on 29-Oct-08 | Last updated 17-Mar-21
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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
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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
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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)
 
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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)
 
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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
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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
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IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book, “Impiety” (1906)
 
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BAIT, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
 
Added on 3-Jun-20 | Last updated 3-Jun-20
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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
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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
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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)
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Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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POLITENESS, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
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Added on 10-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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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
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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
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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
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POSITIVE, adj. Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary, “Positive” (1911)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-22
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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)
 
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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
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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
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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)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Feb-21
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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
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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
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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)
 
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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