A – the devil’s dictionary

Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary is the rock bottom of cynicism and irony.  And this is just the A’s!  It purports to describe hell but we recognize it right away as our lives here and now among the quick.  Our most sacred qualities are unceremoniously toppled and made rag tag and treacherous.  Every motivation is duplicitous, each shining character quality fully avaricious. Nothing is as it seems; there is a dark, blanketing shadow of motivation behind every relationship and action.  Corruption has achieved its apotheosis.  You get the picture.

Some of the A’s from the dictionary:

ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.
ACHIEVEMENT, n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.
ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.
AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
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.
AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
APPETITE, n. An instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a solution to the labor question.
APRIL FOOL, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly.
ARREST, v.t. Formally to detain one accused of unusualness.
ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.

– Ambrose Bierce, “The Devils Dictionary”

3 Comments so far
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Yes, it’s a dictionary every home should have – perfect for puncturing poseurs and humbug – even, or especially, when the humbuggery is one’s own.

Comment by blackwatertown

amazing how consistently he throws the accusation back at teh reader.

Comment by cosmopolitanscum

Funny and horrifying at once.

Comment by Peter Rudd

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