Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Words on Wednesday: The Devil's Dictionary

In my hunt for quotes each day, I often find funny lines from The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce's compilation of irreverant and disrespectful word definitions published at the beginning of the 20th century.

Following is from the preface to the 1911 publication of TDD:
The Devil's Dictionary was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906. In that year a large part of it was published in covers with the title The Cynic's Word Book, a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve.

The introduction goes on to say that TDD is addressed to "enlightened souls who prefer dry wines to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang."

You can access the full publication online in a few different places. My favorite is this one. Keep in mind that you might find some of it humorless or even insulting. But some of it is quite good.

Here are a few TDD definitions:
ABSTAINER, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.

CALLOUS, adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.

CONSUL, n. In American politics, a person who having failed to secure an office from the people is given one by the Administration on condition that he leave the country.

LOQUACITY, n. A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk.

LOVE, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.

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