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"AMBROSE BIERCE" QUOTES

Collated by Paul Quek



  1. A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it.


  2. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.


  3. Ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity.


  4. Aborigines, n.: persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.


  5. Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends.


  6. Abstainer, n.: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.


  7. Absurdity, n.: a statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.


  8. Academe, n.: an ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.


  9. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.


  10. Accuse, v.t.: to affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.


  11. Achievement, n.: the death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.


  12. Acquaintance, n.: a person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.


  13. Acquaintance is a degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor and obscure, and intimate when he is rich and famous.


  14. Admiration, n.: our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.


  15. Advice is the smallest current coin.


  16. Age, n.: that period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we no longer have the enterprise to commit.


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


  18. Ambidextrous, adj.: able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.


  19. Amnesty, n.: the state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish."


  20. Anoint, v.: to grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.


  21. Aphorism, n.: predigested wisdom.


  22. Applause, n.: the echo of a platitude.


  23. Ardor, n.: the quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.


  24. Australia, n.: a country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.


  25. Bacchus, n.: a convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.


  26. Baptism, n.: a sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever. It is performed with water in two ways -- by immersion, or plunging, and by aspersion, or sprinkling.


  27. Barometer, n.: an ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.


  28. Battle, n.: a method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.


  29. Beauty, n.: the power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.


  30. Before undergoing a surgical operation, arrange your temporal affairs. You may live.


  31. Being is desirable because it is identical with Beauty, and Beauty is loved because it is Being. We ourselves possess Beauty when we are true to our own being; ugliness is in going over to another order; knowing ourselves, we are beautiful; in self-ignorance, we are ugly.


  32. Belladonna, n.: in Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.


  33. Bigot, n.: one who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.


  34. Birth, n.: the first and direst of all disasters.


  35. Bore, n.: a person who talks when you wish him to listen.


  36. Brain, n.: an apparatus with which we think we think.


  37. Bride, n.: a woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.


  38. Cabbage, n.: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.


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


  40. Carnivorous, adj.: addicted to the cruelty of devouring the timorous vegetarian, his heirs and assigns.


  41. Childhood, n.: the period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth - two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age.


  42. Christian, n.: one who follows the teachings of Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.


  43. Circus, n.: a place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.


  44. Clairvoyant, n.: a person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron - namely, that he is a blockhead.


  45. Clergyman, n.: a man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.


  46. Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum - I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.


  47. 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.


  48. Confidante, n.: one entrusted by A with the secrets of B confided to herself by C.


  49. Conservative, n.: a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.


  50. Consult, n.: to seek approval for a course of action already decided upon.


  51. Convent, n.: a place of retirement for woman who wish for leisure to meditate upon the vice of idleness.


  52. Conversation, n.: a fair to 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.


  53. Corporation, n.: an ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.


  54. Corsair, n.: a politician of the seas.


  55. Coward, n.: one who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.


  56. Critic, n.: a person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.


  57. Curiosity, n.: an objectionable quality of the female mind. The desire to know whether or not a woman is cursed with curiosity is one of the most active and insatiable passions of the masculine soul.


  58. Cynic, n.: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.


  59. 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.


  60. Day, n.: a period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.


  61. Dead, adj.:

        Done with the work of breathing; done
        With all the world; the mad race run
        Though to the end; the golden goal
        Attained and found to be a hole!
        -- Squatol Johnes


  62. Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.


  63. Debt, n.: an ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.


  64. Dejeuner, n.: the breakfast of an American who has been in Paris. Variously pronounced.


  65. Deliberation, n.: the act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.


  66. Dentist, n.: a Prestidigitator who, putting metal in one's mouth, pulls coins out of one's pockets.


  67. Destiny, n.: a tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure.


  68. Diplomacy, n.: the patriotic art of lying for one's country.


  69. Disobedience, n.: the silver lining to the cloud of servitude.


  70. Divorce, n.: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.


  71. Dog, n.: a kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship. This Divine Being in some of his smaller and silkier incarnations takes, in the affection of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant. The Dog is a survival -- an anachronism. He toils not, neither does he spin, yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a door-mat all day long, sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means wherewith to purchase the idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned with a look of tolerant recognition.


  72. Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat.


  73. Doubt begins only at the last frontiers of what is possible.


  74. Doubt is the father of invention.


  75. Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment of the truth.


  76. Edible, adj.: good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.


  77. Education, n.: that which discloses the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.


  78. Egotism, n.: doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen.


  79. Egotist, n.: a person more interested in himself than in me.


  80. Egotist, n.: a person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.


  81. 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.


  82. Envy, n.: emulation adapted to the meanest capacity.


  83. Erudition, n.: dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

        So wide his erudition's mighty span,
        He knew Creation's origin and plan
        And only came by accident to grief --
        He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief.
        -- Romach Pute


  84. Evangelist, n.: a bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.


  85. Every time Europe looks across the Atlantic to see the American eagle, it observes only the rear end of an ostrich.


  86. Experience, n.: the wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.


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


  88. Extinction, n.: the raw material out of which theology created the future state.


  89. Fairy, n.: a creature, variously fashioned and endowed, that formerly inhabited the meadows and forests. It was nocturnal in its habits, and somewhat addicted to dancing and the theft of children. The fairies are now believed by naturalist to be extinct, though a clergyman of the Church of England saw three near Colchester as lately as 1855, while passing through a park after dining with the lord of the manor. The sight greatly staggered him, and he was so affected that his account of it was incoherent. In the year 1807 a troop of fairies visited a wood near Aix and carried off the daughter of a peasant, who had been seen to enter it with a bundle of clothing. The son of a wealthy bourgeois disappeared about the same time, but afterward returned. He had seen the abduction been in pursuit of the fairies. Justinian Gaux, a writer of the fourteenth century, avers that so great is the fairies' power of transformation that he saw one change itself into two opposing armies and fight a battle with great slaughter, and that the next day, after it had resumed its original shape and gone away, there were seven hundred bodies of the slain which the villagers had to bury. He does not say if any of the wounded recovered. In the time of Henry III, of England, a law was made which prescribed the death penalty for "Kyllynge, wowndynge, or mamynge" a fairy, and it was universally respected.


  90. Faith, n.: belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.


  91. Famous, adj.: conspicuously miserable.


  92. Female, n:: one of the opposing, or unfair, sex.


  93. Fidelity, n.: a virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.


  94. Fork, n.: an instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.


  95. Friendless, adj.: having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.


  96. Future, n.: that period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happinesss is assured.


  97. Garter, n.: an elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country.


  98. Genealogy, n.: an account of one's descent from a man who did not particularly care to trace his own.


  99. Genius -- to know without having learned; to draw just conclusions from unknown premises; to discern the soul of things.


  100. Grammar, n.: a system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.


  101. Habit is a shackle for the free.


  102. Happiness, n.: an agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.


  103. Heathen, n.: a benighten creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel.


  104. Hebrew, n.: a male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior creation.


  105. Here's to woman! Would that we could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.


  106. History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.


  107. Homicide, n.: the slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homocide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another -- the classification is for the advantage of the lawyers.


  108. Honorable, adj.: afflicted with an impediment in one's reach. In legislative bodies, it is customary to mention all members as honorable; as, "the honorable gentleman is a scurvy cur."


  109. Hypocrisy, n.: prejudice with a halo


  110. Hypocrite, n.: one who, profession virtues that he does not respect secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.


  111. I believe we shall come to care about people less and less. The more people one knows the easier it becomes to replace them. It's one of the curses of London.


  112. I never said all Democrats were saloonkeepers. What I said was that all saloonkeepers are Democrats.


  113. Iconoclast, n.: a breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest that he unbuildeth but doth not reedify, that he pulleth down but pileth not up. For the poor things would have other idols in place of those he thwacketh upon the mazzard and dispelleth. But the iconoclast saith: "Ye shall have none at all, for ye need them not; and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold I will depress the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it."


  114. Idleness, n.: a model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.


  115. Immortality, n.:

        A toy which people cry for,
        And on their knees apply for,
        Dispute, contend and lie for,
        And if allowed
        Would be right proud
        Eternally to die for.


  116. Impiety, n.: your irreverence toward my deity.


  117. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last refuge of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.


  118. In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.


  119. Infidel, n.: in New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does.


  120. In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.


  121. Infancy, n.: the period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth,

        "Heaven lies about us."

    The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.


  122. Insurance, n.: an ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.


  123. International arbitration may be defined as the substitution of many burning questions for a smouldering one.


  124. Interpreter, n.: one who enables two persons of different languages to understand each other by repeating to each what it would have been to the interpreter's advantage for the other to have said.


  125. Inventor, n.: a person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.


  126. It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.


  127. Jealous, adj.: unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.


  128. Land, n.: a part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure.


  129. Laughter, n.: an interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.


  130. Lawsuit, n.: a machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.


  131. Lawyer, n.: one skilled in circumvention of the law.


  132. Learning, n.: the kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.


  133. Lecturer: One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear, and his faith in your patience.


  134. Legacy, n.: a gift from one who is legging it out of this vale of tears.


  135. Liberty, n.: one of imagination's most precious possessions.


  136. Life, n.: a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.


  137. Litigant, n.: a person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.


  138. Litigation, n.: a machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.


  139. Loganimity, n.: the disposition to endure injury with meek forbearance while maturing a plan of revenge.


  140. Logic, n.: the art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion -- thus:

       Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
       Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore --
       Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.

        This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.


  141. Love, n.: a temporary insanity curable by marriage.


  142. Love is a temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.


  143. Mad, adj.: affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.


  144. Magic, n.: an art of converting superstition into coin. There are other arts serving the same high purpose, but the discreet lexicographer does not name them."


  145. Magpie, n.: a bird whose thievish disposition suggested to someone that it might be taught to talk.


  146. Male, n.: a member of the unconsidered, or negligible sex. The male of the human race is commonly known (to the female) as Mere Man. The genus has two varieties: good providers and bad providers.


  147. Mammon, n.: the god of the world's leading religion.


  148. Marriage, n.: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.


  149. Mayonnaise, n.: one of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.


  150. Meekness, n.: uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.


  151. Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.


  152. Minister, n.: an agent of a higher power with a lower responsibility. In diplomacy, an officer sent into a foreign country as the visible embodiment of his sovereign's hostility. His principal qualification is a degree of plausible inveracity next below that of an ambassador.


  153. Monkey, n.: an arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.


  154. Mustang, n.: an indocile horse of the western plains. In English society, the American wife of an English nobleman.


  155. 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.


  156. New York is too strenuous for me; it gets on my nerves.


  157. Noise, n.: a stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.


  158. Oblivion, n.: the state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fame's eternal dumping ground. Cold storage for high hopes. A place where ambitious authors meet their works without pride and their betters without envy. A dormitory without an alarm clock.


  159. Ocean, n.: a body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills.


  160. Omen, n.: a sign that something will happen if nothing happens.


  161. Opera, n.: a play representing life in another world whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures, and no postures but attitudes.


  162. Optimism, n.: the doctrine that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong ... It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.


  163. Optimist, n.: a proponent of the doctrine that black is white.


  164. Painting, n.: the art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.


  165. Palmistry, n.: the 947th method (according to Mimbleshaw's classification) of obtaining money by false pretences. It consists in "reading character" in the wrinkles made by closing the hand. The pretence is not altogether false; character can really be read very accurately in this way, for the wrinkles in every hand submitted plainly spell the word "dupe." The imposture consists in not reading it aloud.


  166. Past, n.: that part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. A moving line called the Present parts it from an imaginary period known as the Future. These two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually effacing the other, are entirely unlike. The one is dark with sorrow and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy. The Past is the region of sobs, the Future is the realm of song. In the one crouches Memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease. Yet the Past is the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of to-morrow. They are one --the knowledge and the dream.


  167. Patience, n.: a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.


  168. Patriot, n.: one to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.


  169. Patriotism is as fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and irrational as a headless hen.


  170. Peace, in international affairs, is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.


  171. Perseverance, n.: a lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.


  172. Philosophy, n.: a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.


  173. Phonograph, n. An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises.


  174. Photograph, n.: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.


  175. Physician, n.: one upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.


  176. Piracy, n.: commerce without its folly-swaddles, just as God made it.


  177. Pleasure, n.: the least hateful form of dejection.


  178. Politeness, n.: the most acceptable hypocrisy.


  179. Politics, n.: a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.


  180. Positive, adj.: mistaken at the top of one's voice.


  181. Posterity, n.: an appellate court which reverses the judgment of a popular author's contemporaries, the appellant being his obscure competitor.


  182. Pray, v.: to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.


  183. Pray, n.: to ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.


  184. Predestination, n.: the doctrine that all things occur according to programme. This doctrine should not be confused with that of foreordination, which means that all things are programmed, but does not affirm their occurrence, that being only an implication from other doctrines by which this is entailed. The difference is great enough to have deluged Christendom with ink, to say nothing of the gore. With the distinction of the two doctrines kept well in mind, and a reverent belief in both, one may hope to escape perdition if spared.


  185. Predicament, n.: the wage of consistency.


  186. Prejudice, n.: a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.


  187. Prelate, n.: a church officer having a superior degree of holiness and a fat preferment. One of Heaven's aristocracy. A gentleman of God.


  188. Prescription, n.: a physician's guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.


  189. Present, n.: that part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.


  190. Prison, n.: a place of punishments and rewards. The poet assures us that --

        "Stone walls do not a prison make"


  191. Property, n.: any material thing, having no particular value, that may be held by A against the cupidity of B. Whatever gratifies the passion for possession in one and disappoints it in all others. The object of man's brief rapacity and long indifference.


  192. Queen, n.: a woman by whom the realm is ruled when there is a king, and through whom it is ruled when there is not.


  193. Quixotic, adj.: absurdly chivalric, like Don Quixote. An insight into the beauty and excellence of this incomparable adjective is unhappily denied to him who has the misfortune to know that the gentleman's name is pronounced Ke-ho-tay.


  194. Quorum, n.: a sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to have their own way and their own way of having it. In the United States Senate a quorum consists of the chairman of the Committee on Finance and a messenger from the White House; in the House of Representatives, of the Speaker and the devil.


  195. Quotation, n.: the act of repeating erroneously the words of another.


  196. Quotient, n.: a number showing how many times a sum of money belonging to one person is contained in the pocket of another -- usually about as many times as it can be got there.


  197. Radicalism, n.: the conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.


  198. Rash, adj.: insensible to the value of our advice.

        Now lay your bet with mine, nor let
        These gamblers take your cash.
        Nay, this child makes no bet.
        "Great snakes! How can you be so rash?"
        -- Bootle P. Gish


  199. Rational, adj.: devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.


  200. Reality, n.: the dream of a mad philosopher. That which would remain in the cupel if one should assay a phantom. The nucleus of a vacuum.


  201. Reason, v.i.: to weight probabilities in the scales of desire.


  202. Reason, n.: propensitate of prejudice.


  203. Reasonable, adj.: accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion.


  204. Recollect, v.: to recall with additions something not previously known.


  205. Reconciliation, n.: a suspension of hostilities. An armed truce for the purpose of digging up the dead.


  206. Reconsider, v.: to seek a justification for a decision already made.


  207. Recreation, n.: a particular kind of dejection to relieve a general fatigue.


  208. Reflection, n.: an action of the mind whereby we obtain a clearer view of our relation to the things of yesterday and are able to avoid the perils that we shall not again encounter.


  209. Refuge, n.: anything assuring protection to one in peril. Moses and Joshua provided six cities of refuge -- Bezer, Golan, Ramoth, Kadesh, Schekem and Hebron -- to which one who had taken life inadvertently could flee when hunted by relatives of the deceased. This admirable expedient supplied him with wholesome exercise and enabled them to enjoy the pleasures of the chase; whereby the soul of the dead man was appropriately honored by observations akin to the funeral games of early Greece.


  210. Refusal, n.: denial of something desired; as an elderly maiden's hand in marriage, to a rich and handsome suitor; a valuable franchise to a rich corporation, by an alderman; absolution to an impenitent king, by a priest, and so forth. Refusals are graded in a descending scale of finality thus: the refusal absolute, the refusal condition, the refusal tentative and the refusal feminine. The last is called by some casuists the refusal assentive.


  211. Religion, n.: a daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.


  212. Repentance, n.: the faithful attendant and follower of Punishment. It is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not inconsistent with continuity of sin.


  213. Reporter, n.: a writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words.


  214. Repose, v.i.: to cease from troubling.


  215. Republic, n.: a nation in which, the thing governing and the thing governed being the same, there is only a permitted authority to enforce an optional obedience. In a republic, the foundation of public order is the ever lessening habit of submission inherited from ancestors who, being truly governed, submitted because they had to. There are as many kinds of republics as there are graduations between the despotism whence they came and the anarchy whither they lead.


  216. Requiem, n.: a mass for the dead which the minor poets assure us the winds sing o'er the graves of their favorites. Sometimes, by way of providing a varied entertainment, they sing a dirge.


  217. Resident, adj.: unable to leave.


  218. Resign, v.t.: to renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.


  219. Resolute, adj.: obstinate in a course that we approve.


  220. Respectability, n.: the offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account.


  221. Respond, v.i.: to make answer, or disclose otherwise a consciousness of having inspired an interest in what Herbert Spencer calls "external coexistences," as Satan "squat like a toad" at the ear of Eve, responded to the touch of the angel's spear. To respond in damages is to contribute to the maintenance of the plaintiff's attorney and, incidentally, to the gratification of the plaintiff.


  222. 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.


  223. Revelation, n.: a famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators, who know nothing.


  224. Reverence, n.: the spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.


  225. Revolution, n.: in politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.


  226. Rich, adj.: holding in trust and subject to an accounting the property of the indolent, the incompetent, the unthrifty, the envious and the luckless. That is the view that prevails in the underworld, where the Brotherhood of Man finds its most logical development and candid advocacy. To denizens of the midworld the word means good and wise.


  227. Riches, n.:

    A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." -- John D. Rockefeller

    The reward of toil and virtue. -- J.P. Morgan

    The savings of many in the hands of one. -- Eugene Debs

    To these excellent definitions the inspired lexicographer feels that he can add nothing of value.


  228. Ridicule, n.: words designed to show that the person of whom they are uttered is devoid of the dignity of character distinguishing him who utters them. It may be graphic, mimetic or merely rident. Shaftesbury is quoted as having pronounced it the test of truth -- a ridiculous assertion, for many a solemn fallacy has undergone centuries of ridicule with no abatement of its popular acceptance. What, for example, has been more valorously derided than the doctrine of Infant Respectability?


  229. Righteousness, n.: a sturdy virtue that was once found among the Pantidoodles inhabiting the lower part of the peninsula of Oque. Some feeble attempts were made by returned missionaries to introduce it into several European countries, but it appears to have been imperfectly expounded. An example of this faulty exposition is found in the only extant sermon of the pious Bishop Rowley, a characteristic passage from which is here given:
    "Now righteousness consisteth not merely in a holy state of mind, nor yet in performance of religious rites and obedience to the letter of the law. It is not enough that one be pious and just: one must see to it that others also are in the same state; and to this end compulsion is a proper means. Forasmuch as my injustice may work ill to another, so by his injustice may evil be wrought upon still another, the which it is as manifestly my duty to estop as to forestall mine own tort. Wherefore if I would be righteous I am bound to restrain my neighbor, by force if needful, in all those injurious enterprises from which, through a better disposition and by the help of Heaven, I do myself restrain."



  230. R.I.P. : a careless abbreviation of requiescat in pace, attesting to indolent goodwill to the dead. According to the learned Dr. Drigge, however, the letters originally meant nothing more than reductus in pulvis.


  231. Road, n.: a strip of land along which one may pass from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.


  232. Ruin, v.: to destroy. Specifically, to destroy a maid's belief in the virtue of maids.


  233. Rum, n.: generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.


  234. Rumor, n.: a favorite weapon of the assassins of character.


  235. Sabbath, n.: a weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh. Among the Jews observance of the day was enforced by a Commandment of which this is the Christian version: "Remember the seventh day to make thy neighbor keep it wholly." To the Creator it seemed fit and expedient that the Sabbath should be the last day of the week, but the Early Fathers of the Church held other views. So great is the sanctity of the day that even where the Lord holds a doubtful and precarious jurisdiction over those who go down to (and down into) the sea it is reverently recognized, as is manifest in the following deep-water version of the Fourth Commandment:

        Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able,
        And on the seventh holystone the deck and scrape the cable.

    Decks are no longer holystoned, but the cable still supplies the captain with opportunity to attest a pious respect for the divine ordinance.


  236. Sacrament, n.: a solemn religious ceremony to which several degrees of authority and significance are attached. Rome has seven sacraments, but the Protestant churches, being less prosperous, feel that they can afford only two, and these of inferior sanctity. Some of the smaller sects have no sacraments at all -- for which mean economy they will indubitable be damned.


  237. Sacred, adj.: dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine character; inspiring solemn thoughts or emotions; as, the Dalai Lama of Thibet; the Moogum of M'bwango; the temple of Apes in Ceylon; the Cow in India; the Crocodile, the Cat and the Onion of ancient Egypt; the Mufti of Moosh; the hair of the dog that bit Noah, etc.


  238. Saint, n.: a dead sinner revised and edited.

        The Duchess of Orleans relates that the irreverent old calumniator, Marshal Villeroi, who in his youth had known St. Francis de Sales, said, on hearing him called saint: "I am delighted to hear that Monsieur de Sales is a saint. He was fond of saying indelicate things, and used to cheat at cards. In other respects he was a perfect gentleman, though a fool."


  239. Satan, n.: one of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, repented in sashcloth and axes. Being instated as an archangel, Satan made himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a moment and at last went back. "There is one favor that I should like to ask," said he.
        "Name it."
        "Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws."
        "What, wretch! you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn of eternity with hatred of his soul --you ask for the right to make his laws?"
        "Pardon; what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them himself."
        It was so ordered.


  240. Satiety, n.: the feeling that one has for the plate after he has eaten its contents, madam.


  241. Satire, n.: an obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness. In this country satire never had more than a sickly and uncertain existence, for the soul of it is wit, wherein we are dolefully deficient, the humor that we mistake for it, like all humor, being tolerant and sympathetic. Moreover, although Americans are "endowed by their Creator" with abundant vice and folly, it is not generally known that these are reprehensible qualities, wherefore the satirist is popularly regarded as a soul-spirited knave, and his ever victim's outcry for codefendants evokes a national assent.


  242. Satyr, n.: one of the few characters of the Grecian mythology accorded recognition in the Hebrew. (Leviticus, xvii, 7.) The satyr was at first a member of the dissolute community acknowledging a loose allegiance with Dionysius, but underwent many transformations and improvements. Not infrequently he is confounded with the faun, a later and decenter creation of the Romans, who was less like a man and more like a goat.


  243. Sauce, n.: the one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment. A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one sauce has only nine hundred and ninety-nine. For every sauce invented and accepted a vice is renounced and forgiven.


  244. Saw, n.: a trite popular saying, or proverb. (Figurative and colloquial.) So called because it makes its way into a wooden head. Following are examples of old saws fitted with new teeth.

    A penny saved is a penny to squander.

    A man is known by the company that he organizes.

    A bad workman quarrels with the man who calls him that.

    A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring.

    Better late than before anybody has invited you.

    Example is better than following it.

    Half a loaf is better than a whole one if there is much else.

    Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.

    What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do it.

    Least said is soonest disavowed.

    He laughs best who laughs least.

    Speak of the Devil and he will hear about it.

    Of two evils choose to be the least.

    Strike while your employer has a big contract.

    Where there's a will there's a won't.




  245. Scrap-book, n.: a book that is commonly edited by a fool. Many persons of some small distinction compile scrap-books containing whatever they happen to read about themselves or employ others to collect.


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


  247. Self-denial is indulgence of a propensity to forego.


  248. Self-esteem, n.: an erroneous appraisement.


  249. Self-evident, adj.: evident to one's self and to nobody else.


  250. Selfish, adj.: devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.


  251. Soul, n.: a spiritual entity concerning which there hath been brave disputation. Plato held that those souls which in a previous state of existence (antedating Athens) had obtained the clearest glimpses of eternal truth entered into the bodies of persons who became philosophers. Plato himself was a philosopher. The souls that had least contemplated divine truth animated the bodies of usurpers and despots. Dionysius I, who had threatened to decapitate the broad- browed philosopher, was a usurper and a despot. Plato, doubtless, was not the first to construct a system of philosophy that could be quoted against his enemies; certainly he was not the last.


  252. Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.


  253. Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; the trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.


  254. Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.


  255. Suffrage, n.: expression of opinion by means of a ballot. The right of suffrage (which is held to be both a privilege and a duty) means, as commonly interpreted, the right to vote for the man of another man's choice, and is highly prized.


  256. Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.


  257. Sycophant, n.: one who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked. He is sometimes an editor.


  258. Sylph, n.: an immaterial but visible being that inhabited the air when the air was an element and before it was fatally polluted with factory smoke, sewer gas and similar products of civilization. Sylphs were allied to gnomes, nymphs and salamanders, which dwelt, respectively, in earth, water and fire, all now insalubrious. Sylphs, like fowls of the air, were male and female, to no purpose, apparently, for if they had progeny they must have nested in accessible places, none of the chicks having ever been seen.


  259. T, the twentieth letter of the English alphabet, was by the Greeks absurdly called tau. In the alphabet whence ours comes it had the form of the rude corkscrew of the period, and when it stood alone (which was more than the Phoenicians could always do) signified Tallegal, translated by the learned Dr. Brownrigg, "tanglefoot."


  260. Tail, n.: the part of an animal's spine that has transcended its natural limitations to set up an independent existence in a world of its own. Excepting in its foetal state, Man is without a tail, a privation of which he attests an hereditary and uneasy consciousness by the coat-skirt of the male and the train of the female, and by a marked tendency to ornament that part of his attire where the tail should be, and indubitably once was. This tendency is most observable in the female of the species, in whom the ancestral sense is strong and persistent. The tailed men described by Lord Monboddo are now generally regarded as a product of an imagination unusually susceptible to influences generated in the golden age of our pithecan past.


  261. Take, v.t.: to acquire, frequently by force but preferably by stealth.


  262. Take not God's name in vain; select a time when it will have effect.


  263. Talk, v.t.: to commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an impulse without purpose.


  264. Tariff, n.: a scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.


  265. Technicality, n.: in an English court a man named Home was tried for slander in having accused his neighbor of murder. His exact words were: "Sir Thomas Holt hath taken a cleaver and stricken his cook upon the head, so that one side of the head fell upon one shoulder and the other side upon the other shoulder." The defendant was acquitted by instruction of the court, the learned judges holding that the words did not charge murder, for they did not affirm the death of the cook, that being only an inference.


  266. Tedium, n.: ennui, the state or condition of one that is bored. Many fanciful derivations of the word have been affirmed, but so high an authority as Father Jape says that it comes from a very obvious source -- the first words of the ancient Latin hymn Te Deum Laudamus. In this apparently natural derivation there is something that saddens.


  267. Teetotaller, n.: one who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally.


  268. Telephone, n.: an invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.


  269. Telescope, n.: a device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. Luckily it is unprovided with a bell summoning us to the sacrifice.


  270. Tenacity, n.: a certain quality of the human hand in its relation to the coin of the realm. It attains its highest development in the hand of authority and is considered a serviceable equipment for a career in politics.


  271. The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.


  272. The covers of this book are too far apart.


  273. The future is that period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true, and our happiness is assured.


  274. The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.


  275. The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.


  276. The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog.


  277. The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.


  278. The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.


  279. Theosophy, n.: an ancient faith having all the certitude of religion and all the mystery of science. The modern Theosophist holds, with the Buddhists, that we live an incalculable number of times on this earth, in as many several bodies, because one life is not long enough for our complete spiritual development; that is, a single lifetime does not suffice for us to become as wise and good as we choose to wish to become. To be absolutely wise and good -- that is perfection; and the Theosophist is so keen-sighted as to have observed that everything desirous of improvement eventually attains perfection. Less competent observers are disposed to except cats, which seem neither wiser nor better than they were last year. The greatest and fattest of recent Theosophists was the late Madame Blavatsky, who had no cat.


  280. There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know.


  281. Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.


  282. To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one's voice.


  283. Tomb, n.: the House of Indifference. Tombs are now by common consent invested with a certain sanctity, but when they have been long tenanted it is considered no sin to break them open and rifle them, the famous Egyptologist, Dr. Huggyns, explaining that a tomb may be innocently "glened" as soon as its occupant is done "smellynge," the soul being then all exhaled. This reasonable view is now generally accepted by archaeologists, whereby the noble science of Curiosity has been greatly dignified.


  284. Treat things divine with marked respect -- don't have anything to do with them.


  285. Trial, n.: a formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors. In order to effect this purpose it is necessary to supply a contrast in the person of one who is called the defendant, the prisoner, or the accused. If the contrast is made sufficiently clear this person is made to undergo such an affliction as will give the virtuous gentlemen a comfortable sense of their immunity, added to that of their worth. In our day the accused is usually a human being, or a socialist, but in mediaeval times, animals, fishes, reptiles and insects were brought to trial. A beast that had taken human life, or practiced sorcery, was duly arrested, tried and, if condemned, put to death by the public executioner. Insects ravaging grain fields, orchards or vineyards were cited to appeal by counsel before a civil tribunal, and after testimony, argument and condemnation, if they continued in contumaciam the matter was taken to a high ecclesiastical court, where they were solemnly excommunicated and anathematized. In a street of Toledo, some pigs that had wickedly run between the viceroy's legs, upsetting him, were arrested on a warrant, tried and punished. In Naples an ass was condemned to be burned at the stake, but the sentence appears not to have been executed. D'Addosio relates from the court records many trials of pigs, bulls, horses, cocks, dogs, goats, etc., greatly, it is believed, to the betterment of their conduct and morals. In 1451 a suit was brought against the leeches infesting some ponds about Berne, and the Bishop of Lausanne, instructed by the faculty of Heidelberg University, directed that some of "the aquatic worms" be brought before the local magistracy. This was done and the leeches, both present and absent, were ordered to leave the places that they had infested within three days on pain of incurring "the malediction of God." In the voluminous records of this cause celebre nothing is found to show whether the offenders braved the punishment, or departed forthwith out of that inhospitable jurisdiction.


  286. Trinity, n.: in the multiplex theism of certain Christian churches, three entirely distinct deities consistent with only one. Subordinate deities of the polytheistic faith, such as devils and angels, are not dowered with the power of combination, and must urge individually their claims to adoration and propitiation. The Trinity is one of the most sublime mysteries of our holy religion. In rejecting it because it is incomprehensible, Unitarians betray their inadequate sense of theological fundamentals. 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.


  287. Troglodyte, n.: specifically, a cave-dweller of the paleolithic period, after the Tree and before the Flat. A famous community of troglodytes dwelt with David in the Cave of Adullam. The colony consisted of "every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented" -- in brief, all the Socialists of Judah.


  288. Trust, n.: in American politics, a large corporation composed in greater part of thrifty working men, widows of small means, orphans in the care of guardians and the courts, with many similar malefactors and public enemies.


  289. Truth, n.: an ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing with increasing activity to the end of time.


  290. Truthful, adj.: dumb and illiterate.


  291. Twice, adv.: once too often.


  292. Tzetze (or Tsetse) fly, n.: an African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature's most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis).


  293. Ubiquity, n.: the gift or power of being in all places at one time, but not in all places at all times, which is omnipresence, an attribute of God and the luminiferous ether only. This important distinction between ubiquity and omnipresence was not clear to the mediaeval Church and there was much bloodshed about it. Certain Lutherans, who affirmed the presence everywhere of Christ's body were known as Ubiquitarians. For this error they were doubtless damned, for Christ's body is present only in the eucharist, though that sacrament may be performed in more than one place simultaneously. In recent times ubiquity has not always been understood -- not even by Sir Boyle Roche, for example, who held that a man cannot be in two places at once unless he is a bird.


  294. Ugliness, n.: a gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue without humility.


  295. Ultimatum, n.: in diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions.


  296. Understanding, n.: a cerebral secretion that enables one having it to know a house from a horse by the roof on the house. Its nature and laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke, who rode a house, and Kant, who lived in a horse.


  297. Urbanity, n.: the kind of civility that urban observers ascribe to dwellers in all cities but New York. Its commonest expression is heard in the words, "I beg your pardon," and it is not consistent with disregard of the rights of others.


  298. Usage, n.: the First Person of the literary Trinity, the Second and Third being Custom and Conventionality. Imbued with a decent reverence for this Holy Triad an industrious writer may hope to produce books that will live as long as the fashion.


  299. Uxoriousness, n.: a perverted affection that has strayed to one's own wife.


  300. Valor, n.: a soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler's hope.

        "Why have you halted?" roared the commander of a division and Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; "move forward, sir, at once."
        "General," said the commander of the delinquent brigade, "I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy."


  301. Vanity, n.: the tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass.


  302. Virtues, n. pl.: certain abstentions.


  303. Vote, n.: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.


  304. W (double U) has, of all the letters in our alphabet, the only cumbrous name, the names of the others being monosyllabic. This advantage of the Roman alphabet over the Grecian is the more valued after audibly spelling out some simple Greek word, like epixoriambikos. Still, it is now thought by the learned that other agencies than the difference of the two alphabets may have been concerned in the decline of "the glory that was Greece" and the rise of "the grandeur that was Rome." There can be no doubt, however, that by simplifying the name of W (calling it "wow," for example) our civilization could be, if not promoted, at least better endured.


  305. Wall Street, n.: a symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven. Even the great and good Andrew Carnegie has made his profession of faith in the matter.


  306. War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.


  307. War, n.: a by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity. The student of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly boast himself inaccessible to the light. "In time of peace prepare for war" has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, not merely that all things earthly have an end -- that change is the one immutable and eternal law -- but that the soil of peace is thickly sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination and growth.


  308. Weaknesses, n. pl.: certain primal powers of Tyrant Woman wherewith she holds dominion over the male of her species, binding him to the service of her will and paralyzing his rebellious energies.


  309. Wedding, n.: a ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.


  310. We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.


  311. We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.


  312. What is a democrat? One who believes that the republicans have ruined the country. What is a republican? One who believes that the democrats would ruin the country.


  313. What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do it.


  314. What this country needs what every country needs occasionally is a good hard bloody war to revive the vice of patriotism on which its existence as a nation depends.


  315. When you are ill make haste to forgive your enemies, for you may recover.


  316. When you doubt, abstain.


  317. While your friend holds you affectionately by both your hands, you are safe, for you can watch both his.


  318. Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is -- it is her shadow.


  319. Widow, n.: a pathetic figure that the Christian world has agreed to take humorously, although Christ's tenderness towards widows was one of the most marked features of his character.


  320. Wine, n.: fermented grape-juice known to the Women's Christian Union as "liquor," sometimes as "rum." Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man.


  321. Wit, n.: the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.


  322. Witch, n.: (1) any ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil; (2) a beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil.


  323. Witticism, n.: a sharp and clever remark, usually quoted, and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a "joke."


  324. Woman, n.: "An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication. It is credited by many of the elder zoologists with a certain vestigial docility acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, deny the virtue and declare that such as creation's dawn beheld, it roareth now. The species is the most widely distributed of all beasts of prey, infesting all habitable parts of the globe, from Greeland's spicy mountains to India's moral strand. The popular name (wolfman) is incorrect, for the creature is of the cat kind. The woman is lithe and graceful in its movement, especially the American variety (felis pugnans), is omnivorous and can be taught not to talk." -- Balthasar Pober


  325. Work, n.: a dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing.


  326. Worms'-meat, n.: the finished product of which we are the raw material. The contents of the Taj Mahal, the Tombeau Napoleon and the Granitarium. Worms'-meat is usually outlasted by the structure that houses it, but "this too must pass away." Probably the silliest work in which a human being can engage is construction of a tomb for himself. The solemn purpose cannot dignify, but only accentuates by contrast the foreknown futility.


  327. Worship, n.: Homo Creator's testimony to the sound construction and fine finish of Deus Creatus. A popular form of abjection, having an element of pride.


  328. Wrath, n.: anger of a superior quality and degree, appropriate to exalted characters and momentous occasions; as, "the wrath of God," "the day of wrath," etc. Amongst the ancients the wrath of kings was deemed sacred, for it could usually command the agency of some god for its fit manifestation, as could also that of a priest. The Greeks before Troy were so harried by Apollo that they jumped out of the frying-pan of the wrath of Cryses into the fire of the wrath of Achilles, though Agamemnon, the sole offender, was neither fried nor roasted. A similar noted immunity was that of David when he incurred the wrath of Yahveh by numbering his people, seventy thousand of whom paid the penalty with their lives. God is now Love, and a director of the census performs his work without apprehension of disaster.


  329. X, in our alphabet being a needless letter, has an added invincibility to the attacks of the spelling reformers, and like them, will doubtless last as long as the language. X is the sacred symbol of ten dollars, and in such words as Xmas, Xn, etc., stands for Christ, not, as is popular supposed, because it represents a cross, but because the corresponding letter in the Greek alphabet is the initial of his name -- Xristos. If it represented a cross it would stand for St. Andrew, who "testified" upon one of that shape. In the algebra of psychology x stands for Woman's mind. Words beginning with X are Grecian and will not be defined in this standard English dictionary.


  330. Yankee, n.: in Europe, an American. In the Northern States of our Union, a New Englander. In the Southern States, the word is unknown.


  331. Year, n.: a period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.


  332. Yesterday n.: the infancy of youth, the youth of manhood, the entire past of age.


  333. Yoke, n.: an implement, madam, to whose Latin name, jugum, we owe one of the most illuminating words in our language -- a word that defines the matrimonial situation with precision, point and poignancy. A thousand apologies for withholding it.


  334. You are not permitted to kill a woman who has wronged you, but nothing forbids you to reflect that she is growing older every minute. You are avenged 1440 times a day.


  335. Youth, n.: the Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.


  336. Zeal, n.: a certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.






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