Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

537 Inspiring Quotes by Ambrose Bierce

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Ambrose Bierce.

Wikipedia Summary for Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – circa 1914) was an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and Civil War veteran. His book The Devil's Dictionary was named as one of "The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature" by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. His story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" has been described as "one of the most famous and frequently anthologized stories in American literature"; and his book Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (also published as In the Midst of Life) was named by the Grolier Club as one of the 100 most influential American books printed before 1900.

A prolific and versatile writer, Bierce was regarded as one of the most influential journalists in the United States, and as a pioneering writer of realist fiction. For his horror writing, Michael Dirda ranked him alongside Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. S. T. Joshi speculates that he may well be the greatest satirist America has ever produced, and in this regard can take his place with such figures as Juvenal, Swift, and Voltaire. His war stories influenced Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, and others, and he was considered an influential and feared literary critic.

In recent decades Bierce has gained wider respect as a fabulist and for his poetry.

In 1913, Bierce told reporters that he was travelling to Mexico to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. He disappeared and was never seen again.

black pug puppy lying on gray bed

ORATORY, n. A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the understanding. A tyranny tempered by stenography.

--Ambrose Bierce

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NOMINATE, v. To designate for the heaviest political assessment. To put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting of the opposition.

--Ambrose Bierce

green artificial palm tree on seashore

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

landscape photo of mountain during nighttime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape pines

FIDDLE, n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.

--Ambrose Bierce

pink dahlia in bloom

ALONE, adj. In bad company.

--Ambrose Bierce

houses and trees during nighttime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

black wooden louver door window

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

--Ambrose Bierce

mountains under starry sky during nighttime

Gout, a physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown mountains under blue sky

LANGUAGE, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure.

--Ambrose Bierce

man running on seashore

Women and foxes, being weak, are distinguished by superior tact.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

Bright orange to dark red gradient

X, n. 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.

--Ambrose Bierce


blue boat on sand near body of water during daytime

Women of genius commonly have masculine faces, figures and manners. In transplanting brains to an alien soil God leaves a little of the original earth clinging to the roots.

--Ambrose Bierce

white desk lamp beside green plant

SIREN, n. One of several musical prodigies famous for a vain attempt to dissuade Odysseus from a life on the ocean wave. Figuratively, any lady of splendid promise, dissembled purpose and disappointing performance.

--Ambrose Bierce

black and white abstract illustration

MONUMENT, n. A structure intended to commemorate something which either needs no commemoration or cannot be commemorated.

--Ambrose Bierce

woman lying on pool

OBSOLETE, adj. No longer used by the timid. Said chiefly of words. A word which some lexicographer has marked obsolete is ever thereafter an object of dread and loathing to the fool writer.

--Ambrose Bierce

man jumping on hill during golden hour

Friendship: A ship big enough for two in fair weather, but only one in foul.

--Ambrose Bierce

close-up photo of pink flower

Advice, the smallest current coin.

--Ambrose Bierce

person holding sunflower

WASHINGTONIAN, n. A Potomac tribesman who exchanged the privilege of governing himself for the advantage of good government. In justice to him it should be said that he did not want to.

--Ambrose Bierce

person on road at sunset

Exhort, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of off-road car

AMATEUR, n. A public nuisance who mistakes taste for skill, and confounds his ambition with his ability.

--Ambrose Bierce

orange smoke on blue background

Backbite: To ''speak of a man as you find him'' when he can't find you.

--Ambrose Bierce

photo of mountains

In Physicia Baal is still worshiped as Bolus, and as Belly he is adored and served with abundant sacrifice by the priests of Guttledom.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower field near bare trees during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce


brown sand under blue sky during daytime

The fact that boys are allowed to exist at all is evidence of a remarkable Christian forebearance among men.

--Ambrose Bierce

red moon wallpaper

A book which the Mohammedans foolishly believe to have been written by divine inspiration, but which Christians know to be a wicked imposture, contradictory to the Holy Scriptures.

--Ambrose Bierce


gray cactus plant on white pot

There is no place, it seems, free from the intrusion of Man, who stretches out his hand for everything, even that which is in the air.

--Ambrose Bierce

green ceramic mug on wooden desk

BEG, v. To ask for something with an earnestness proportioned to the belief that it will not be given.

--Ambrose Bierce


blue and white striped textile

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

--Ambrose Bierce

fine trees waving

Abscond -- to move in a mysterious way, commonly with the property of another.

--Ambrose Bierce

body of water

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

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

two persons holding each other hands

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

--Ambrose Bierce

blue wall during daytime

Erudition - dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

--Ambrose Bierce

orange flowers

Self-esteem, n. An erroneous appraisal.

--Ambrose Bierce

fawn pug lying on floor

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

--Ambrose Bierce

green ceramic mug beside book

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

--Ambrose Bierce

black textile on white textile

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

green leafed vegetable on brown wooden surface

NOTORIETY, n. The fame of one's competitor for public honors. The kind of renown most accessible and acceptable to mediocrity. A Jacob's-ladder leading to the vaudeville stage, with angels ascending and descending.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape rain

SYCOPHANT- One who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked. He is sometimes an editor.

--Ambrose Bierce


brown sands

Cat: a soft indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.

--Ambrose Bierce

shoreline during golden hour

Electricity is the power that causes all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown rock formation on body of water during daytime

Alien -- an American sovereign in his probationary state.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunflower field during daytime

Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown wooden board

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

pink and white flowers on white surface

War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

--Ambrose Bierce

green trees beside body of water during daytime

Bigot: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

--Ambrose Bierce

bird in the sky

Trial. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.

--Ambrose Bierce

flame illustration

ORTHODOX, n. An ox wearing the popular religious joke.

--Ambrose Bierce

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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.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue sky with stars during night time

COMMERCE, n. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.

--Ambrose Bierce

green leaf tree on shore

Income is the natural and rational gauge and measure of respectability.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown desert under sunny sky

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

--Ambrose Bierce

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PESSIMISM- philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

Mesmerism, n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow painted wall

To those who view the voyage of life from the port of departure the bark that has accomplished any considerable distance appears already in close approach to the farther shore.

--Ambrose Bierce

silver round analog wall clock

Sabbath -- a weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

The covers of this book are too far apart.

--Ambrose Bierce

city lights from hill

Custard: A detestable substance produced by a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow, and the cook.

--Ambrose Bierce

man facing women near forest

VIRTUES, n.pl. Certain abstentions.

--Ambrose Bierce

rainbow

Pun: A form of wit, to which wise men stoop and fools aspire.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue sky

Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.

--Ambrose Bierce

man in black suit jacket and woman in blue dress kissing during daytime

COMPULSION, n. The eloquence of power.

--Ambrose Bierce


white shore under sunny sky

SACRED, adj. Dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine character; inspiring solemn thoughts or emotions; as... the Cow in India; the Crocodile, the Cat and the Onion of ancient Egypt.

--Ambrose Bierce


pink-petaled rose flower

Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

--Ambrose Bierce

assorted-colored cactus

A single swallow, it is said, devours ten millions of insects every year. The supplying of these insects I take to be a signal instance of the Creator's bounty in providing for the lives of His creatures.

--Ambrose Bierce


yellow flower field under clear sky

GRAPESHOT, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism.

--Ambrose Bierce

stars across the sky view at the desert

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

OBSERVATORY, n. A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses of their predecessors.

--Ambrose Bierce

green ceramic mug on wooden desk

A funeral is a pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker.

--Ambrose Bierce

photo of gray moon

OLD, adj. In that stage of usefulness which is not inconsistent with general inefficiency, as an "old man." Discredited by lapse of time and offensive to the popular taste, as an "old" book.

--Ambrose Bierce


gray concrete surface

Teetotaler, n. One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally.

--Ambrose Bierce

time lapse photography body of water

Introduction -- a social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies.

--Ambrose Bierce

black and white bird on seashore

One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.

--Ambrose Bierce

people near body of water

OVATION, n. n ancient Rome, a definite, formal pageant in honor of one who had been disserviceable to the enemies of the nation. A lesser "triumph.

--Ambrose Bierce


photo of pine trees

PREFERENCE, n. A sentiment, or frame of mind, induced by the erroneous belief that one thing is better than another.

--Ambrose Bierce

Light blue to purple gradient

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

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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.."

--Ambrose Bierce

brown and gray floral textile

Ambition. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.

--Ambrose Bierce

man in gray shirt and blue denim jeans sitting on gray rock near green tree during

TRUTHFUL, adj. Dumb and illiterate.

--Ambrose Bierce

woman carrying baby while walking

RUBBISH, n. Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions lying due south from Boreaplas.

--Ambrose Bierce

green leafed plant

Nominee. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public office.

--Ambrose Bierce

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REACH, n. The radius of action of the human hand. The area within which it is possible (and customary) to gratify directly the propensity to provide.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown chopped logs

Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.

--Ambrose Bierce

white pendant lamp

Oyster, n. A slimy, gobby shellfish which civilization gives men the hardihood to eat without removing its entrails!

--Ambrose Bierce



pink-petaled rose flower

IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.

--Ambrose Bierce

white ceramic pencil organizer on top of stack of books

Pleasure, n. The least hateful form of dejection.

--Ambrose Bierce



blue and white abstract painting

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."

--Ambrose Bierce

green textile in close up image

A wedding is a ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow and green forest during daytime

DELEGATION, n. In American politics, an article of merchandise that comes in sets.

--Ambrose Bierce

panoramic photography of mountains

RICE-WATER, n. A mystic beverage secretly used by our most popular novelists and poets to regulate the imagination and narcotize the conscience.

--Ambrose Bierce


yellow background

A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.

--Ambrose Bierce

grayscale photo of rock formation

CANNON, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.

--Ambrose Bierce

person in blue denim jeans and brown leather boots

IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.

--Ambrose Bierce

man in blue jacket and blue pants carrying black and red backpack standing on snow covered

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

--Ambrose Bierce

fireplace on fire

Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.

--Ambrose Bierce

Oak Creek Sedona

Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man.

--Ambrose Bierce

macro photography of green bird on tree branch

Alone, adj. In bad company.

--Ambrose Bierce


pink and blue painted wall

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

--Ambrose Bierce

assorted books on wooden table

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

--Ambrose Bierce

rainbow

Fashion, n. A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of mountain

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

--Ambrose Bierce

woman standing on forest

ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

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

--Ambrose Bierce

trees on forest with sun rays

AUTHENTIC, adj. Indubitably true -- in somebody's opinion.

--Ambrose Bierce

cluster of stars in the sky

RECOUNT, n. In American politics, another throw of the dice, accorded to the player against whom they are loaded.

--Ambrose Bierce


brown grass field near gray rocky mountain during daytime

PIANO, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience.

--Ambrose Bierce

time lapse photography body of water

A person of greater enterprise than discretion, who in embracing an opportunity has formed an unfortunate attachment.

--Ambrose Bierce

landscape photography of mountain

Truth is so good a thing that falsehood can not afford to be without it.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

HUMORIST, n. A plague that would have softened down the hoar austerity of Pharaoh's heart and persuaded him to dismiss Israel with his best wishes, cat-quick.

--Ambrose Bierce

starry night over butte

ORTHOGRAPHY, n. The science of spelling by the eye instead of the ear.

--Ambrose Bierce

aerial view of foggy forest

ALLEGORY, n. A metaphor in three volumes and a tiger.

--Ambrose Bierce

person holding sunflower bouquet during daytime

Heaven: A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound on yours.

--Ambrose Bierce

leafless tree under gray sky

ART, n. This word has no definition. Its origin is related by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape as "One day a wag -- what would the wretch be at? Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT, And said it was a god's name!.

--Ambrose Bierce

closeup photography of brown and gray concrete bricks

Mace, n. A staff of office signifying authority. Its form, that of a heavy club, indicates its original purpose and use in dissuading from dissent.

--Ambrose Bierce

person on road at sunset

Cemetery, n. an isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target and stone cutters spell for a wager.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown wooden board

EXECUTIVE, n. An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of no effect.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue and white abstract painting

Acknowledge, v.t. To confess. Acknowledgment of one another's faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.

--Ambrose Bierce


pen on brown board

BRANDY, n. A cordial composed on one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the-grave and four parts clarified Satan.

--Ambrose Bierce

white and black satellite dish on brown field during night time

Linen, n. A kind of cloth the making of which, when made of hemp, entails a great waste of hemp.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of person wearing cowboy hat during sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

assorted books on wooden table

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

--Ambrose Bierce

scenery of aurora

Christians and camels receive their burdens kneeling.

--Ambrose Bierce

white snow mountain

San Francisco is the place where most people were last seen.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of kneeling man

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

--Ambrose Bierce

black and gray floral textile

CLERGYMAN, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of better his temporal ones.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown short coated dog lying on white textile

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

person holding brown leaf

DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

white and blue ice in water

OBSTINATE, adj. Inaccessible to the truth as it is manifest in the splendor and stress of our advocacy.

--Ambrose Bierce

three clear drinking glasses with brown liquid

Self-restraint is indulgence of the propensity to forgo.

--Ambrose Bierce

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RABBLE, n. In a republic, those who exercise a supreme authority tempered by fraudulent elections. The rabble is like the sacred Simurgh, of Arabian fable -- omnipotent on condition that it do nothing.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of trees during sunset

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

landscape photography of waves and clouds

SATIETY, n. The feeling that one has for the plate after he has eaten its contents, madam.

--Ambrose Bierce

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MONOSYLLABIC, adj. Composed of words of one syllable ... Commonly Saxon -- that is to say, words of a barbarous people destitute of ideas and incapable of any but the most elementary sentiments and emotions.

--Ambrose Bierce


city lights from hill

GEOGRAPHER, n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside of the world and the inside.

--Ambrose Bierce

moon near mountain ridge

INTIMACY, n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for their mutual destruction.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow sunflower in close up photography

O God! what a thing it is to be a ghost, cowering and shivering in an altered world, a prey to apprehension and despair!

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

DEPENDENT, adj. Reliant upon another's generosity for the support which you are not in a position to exact from his fears.

--Ambrose Bierce

close shot of yellow flowers

MOUSE, n. An animal which strews its path with fainting women.

--Ambrose Bierce

car passing by in between trees

Birth: The first and direst of all disasters.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of man standing on hill during starry night

Miss, n. A title which we brand unmarried women to indicate that they are in the market.

--Ambrose Bierce

red and yellow abstract painting

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

--Ambrose Bierce

selective focus photo of brown guitar on white pillow

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

--Ambrose Bierce

None

It has been observed that one's nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of others from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.

--Ambrose Bierce

black dragonfly perched on green grass in close up photography during daytime

SPOOKER, n. A writer whose imagination concerns itself with supernatural phenomena, especially in the doings of spooks.

--Ambrose Bierce

shoreline during golden hour

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

--Ambrose Bierce

white stars in the sky during night time

A bad marriage is like an electrical thrilling machine: it makes you dance, but you can't let go.

--Ambrose Bierce

bonfire on focus photography

The wife, or bitter half.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

SCARABAEUS, n. The sacred beetle of the ancient Egyptians, allied to our familiar "tumble-bug." It was supposed to symbolize immortality, the fact that God knew why giving it its peculiar sanctity.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.

--Ambrose Bierce

iceberg near mountain during day

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

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

Religion is the daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

--Ambrose Bierce

empty brown concrete stairs beside green grass under starry sky long-exposure photography

He who ignores the law of probabilities challenges an adversary that is seldom beaten.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

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

black dog photography

Love is a temporary insanity curable by marriage.

--Ambrose Bierce

red strawberry fruit on red surface

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

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower shallow photography

Children who have proven themselves to be incorrigible by the age of twelve should be quickly and quietly beheaded, lest they grow to maturity, marry, and perpetuate the likeness of their being.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow and white abstract painting

PHILISTINE, n. One whose mind is the creature of its environment, following the fashion in thought, feeling and sentiment. He is sometimes learned, frequently prosperous, commonly clean and always solemn.

--Ambrose Bierce

green leaf in close up photography

NON-COMBATANT, n. A dead Quaker.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

Fork: An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.

--Ambrose Bierce


high-angle photography of mountain at sunset

The Senate is a body of old men charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

--Ambrose Bierce

raindrops on clear window

Congratulations is the civility of envy.

--Ambrose Bierce

lightning strike at night

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

--Ambrose Bierce


old cowboy boots

MOUTH, n. In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart.

--Ambrose Bierce

rock mountain during starry night

BAIT, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.

--Ambrose Bierce

dew drops on glass panel

In this world one must have a name; it prevents confusion, even when it does not establish identity. Some, though, are known by numbers, which also seem inadequate distinctions.

--Ambrose Bierce

desert grassland

NEPOTISM, n. Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of the party.

--Ambrose Bierce

shallow focus photography of stack of books

When in Rome, do as Rome does.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette photography of trees and sky

A nation that will not enforce its laws has no claim to the respect and allegiance of its people.

--Ambrose Bierce

black wooden louver door window

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

--Ambrose Bierce

rainbow

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

--Ambrose Bierce



forest with tall and green trees during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

castle surrounded fog

MONSIGNOR- A high ecclesiastical title, of which the Founder of our religion overlooked the advantages.

--Ambrose Bierce

green grass field

REVOLUTION, n. A bursting of the boilers which usually takes place when the safety valve of public discussion is closed.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

PIG, n. An animal ("Porcus omnivorus") closely allied to the human race by the splendor and vivacity of its appetite, which, however, is inferior in scope, for it sticks at pig.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

Dentist: a prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coin out of your pocket.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue, white, and pink petaled flowers on gray surface

BODY-SNATCHER, n. A robber of grave-worms. One who supplies the young physicians with that with which the old physicians have supplied the undertaker.

--Ambrose Bierce


person wearing red running shoe

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

--Ambrose Bierce

white pendant lamp

MAN, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be.

--Ambrose Bierce

cluster of stars in the sky

Bigamy, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

ELEGY, n. A composition in verse, in which, without employing any of the methods of humor, the writer aims to produce in the reader's mind the dampest kind of dejection.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette photography of trees and sky

COMMENDATION n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resembles but do not equal our own.

--Ambrose Bierce

body of water surrounded with plants under cloudy sky

CRAYFISH, n. A small crustacean very much resembling the lobster, but less indigestible.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue and white light digital wallpaper

No more the swindler singly seeks his prey; To hunt in couples is the modern way A rascal, from the public to purloin, An honest man to hide away the coin.

--Ambrose Bierce

closeup photo of bird beside purple petal flowers

REAR, n. In American military matters, that exposed part of the army that is nearest to Congress.

--Ambrose Bierce


leafless tree on body of water during daytime

Opposition, n. In politics the party that prevents the government from running amuck by hamstringing it.

--Ambrose Bierce

sea of white clouds

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

sliced lemon on pink surface

Polite, adj. Skilled in the art and practice of dissimulation.

--Ambrose Bierce

low angle view of blue clouds

Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of children's running on hill

HOMŒOPATHIST, n. The humorist of the medical profession.

--Ambrose Bierce

black fishes

A less popular name for the Second Person of that delectable newspaper Trinity, the Roomer, the Bedder, and the Mealer.

--Ambrose Bierce

focus photography of chick on gray ground

REDRESS, n. Reparation without satisfaction.

--Ambrose Bierce


blue and white abstract painting

OWE, v. To have (and to hold) a debt. The word formerly signified not indebtedness, but possession; it meant "own," and in the minds of debtors there is still a good deal of confusion between assets and liabilities.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower field near mountain during daytime

DEJEUNER, n. The breakfast of an American who has been in Paris. Variously pronounced.

--Ambrose Bierce

rocks near shore during nighttime

War: A by-product of the arts of peace.

--Ambrose Bierce


body of water under blue sky during daytime

Good-bye -- if you hear of my being stood up against a stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease or falling down the cellar stairs.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

Critic, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.

--Ambrose Bierce

worm's eye view photography of pink cheery blossom tree

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

--Ambrose Bierce

bird in the sky

Cynicism is that blackguard defect of vision which compels us to see the world as it is, instead of as it should be.

--Ambrose Bierce

white brick wall

IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between sin and punishment.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue sky with stars during night time

CLOCK, n. A machine of great moral value to man, allaying his concern for the future by reminding him what a lot of time remains to him.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

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

A white stripe pattern made up of concrete facade ribs

PREHISTORIC, adj. Belonging to an early period and a museum. Antedating the art and practice of perpetuating falsehood.

--Ambrose Bierce


close-up photography of heart shaped fairy lite on brown sand

ARSENIC, n. A kind of cosmetic greatly affected by the ladies, whom it greatly affects in turn.

--Ambrose Bierce

black textile in close up photography

FREEBOOTER, n. A conqueror in a small way of business, whose annexations lack of the sanctifying merit of magnitude.

--Ambrose Bierce



leafless tree under gray sky

Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

--Ambrose Bierce

orange petaled flowers

A modern school where football is taught.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue boat on sand near body of water during daytime

Responsibility: 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

brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

Slang is the speech of him who robs the literary garbage carts on their way to the dumps.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

Martyr, One who moves along the line of least reluctance to a desired death.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

Riven and torn with cannon-shot, the trunks of the trees protruded bunches of splinters like hands, the fingers above the wound interlacing with those below.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

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

--Ambrose Bierce

pink rose in close up photography

Platitude: All that is mortal of a departed truth.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown brick wall photography

Lawyers are: One skilled in the circumvention of the law.

--Ambrose Bierce

green trees on brown dried leaves during daytime

ORPHAN, n. A living person whom death has deprived of the power of filial ingratitude.

--Ambrose Bierce


red illustration

NOVEL, n. A short story padded.

--Ambrose Bierce

grayscale photography of elephant

RUSSIAN, n. A person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul. A Tartar Emetic.

--Ambrose Bierce

shooting star in night sky

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

--Ambrose Bierce

flowers beside yellow wall

RADIUM, n. A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ that a scientist is a fool with.

--Ambrose Bierce

landscape photo of waters, mountains, and black clouds

A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus, and microbe.

--Ambrose Bierce


brown butterfly perched on flower

In Bacon we see the culminating prime
Of British intellect and British crime.

--Ambrose Bierce

red textile in close up photography

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

--Ambrose Bierce

person holding white and yellow flower painting

PRE-EXISTENCE, n. An unnoted factor in creation.

--Ambrose Bierce

forest and body of water

INGRATE, n. One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise an object of charity.

--Ambrose Bierce

leafless tree on body of water during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

snow covered mountain under blue sky during daytime

Duck-bill, n. Your account at your restaurant during the canvas-back season.

--Ambrose Bierce

black and white abstract illustration

NOISE, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.

--Ambrose Bierce

golden retriever inside car

Nothing is more logical than persecution. Religious tolerance is a kind of infidelity.

--Ambrose Bierce

white wall paint with black shadow

ROSTRUM, n. In Latin, the beak of a bird or the prow of a ship. In America, a place from which a candidate for office energetically expounds the wisdom, virtue and power of the rabble.

--Ambrose Bierce


wide lake over sunset view

The poor man's price of admittance to the favor of the rich is his self-respect.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.

--Ambrose Bierce

closeup photo of bird beside purple petal flowers

Prescription: A physician's guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.

--Ambrose Bierce

landscape photography of mountains with cloudy skies during golden hour

Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.

--Ambrose Bierce


city lights from hill

DEGRADATION, n. One of the stages of moral and social progress from private station to political preferment.

--Ambrose Bierce

photo of underwater

PITY, n. A failing sense of exemption, inspired by contrast.

--Ambrose Bierce

purple flowers under sunny sky

ZEUS n. The chief of Grecian gods, adored by the Romans as Jupiter and by the modern Americans as God, Gold, Mob and Dog.

--Ambrose Bierce

white and black satellite dish on brown field during night time

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

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape pines

Forgetfulness -- a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.

--Ambrose Bierce

two women walking on bridge during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

close-up photo of pink flower

ACCOUNTABILITY, n. The mother of caution.

--Ambrose Bierce

white concrete building

ARTLESSNESS, n. A certain engaging quality to which women attain by long study and severe practice upon the admiring male, who is pleased to fancy it resembles the candid simplicity of his young.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue wall

PYRRHONISM- An ancient philosophy, named for its inventor. It consisted of an absolute disbelief in everything but Pyrrhonism. Its modern professors have added that.

--Ambrose Bierce



None

PITIFUL, adj. The state of an enemy or opponent after an imaginary encounter with oneself.

--Ambrose Bierce

forest at daytime

Opportunity: A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.

--Ambrose Bierce

couple kissing under gray clouds

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

--Ambrose Bierce

golden retriever inside car

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

--Ambrose Bierce


flying blue and green hummingbird

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

--Ambrose Bierce

Texas buildings

DIPLOMACY, n. Lying in state, or the patriotic art of lying for one's country.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

REPORTER, n. A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words.

--Ambrose Bierce

adobe wall

Theology is a thing of unreason altogether, an edifice of assumptions and dreams, a superstructure without a substructure.

--Ambrose Bierce

swimming pool with stainless steel ladder

NIRVANA- In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable annihilation awarded to the wise, particularly to those wise enough to understand it.

--Ambrose Bierce



red surface

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

--Ambrose Bierce

gray cactus plant on white pot

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

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

orange abstract painting

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

--Ambrose Bierce

person in blue denim jeans and brown leather boots

Moral, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.

--Ambrose Bierce

orange and white stone fragment

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.

--Ambrose Bierce


flat lay photography teacup on top of saucer

RATTLESNAKE, n. Our prostrate brother, "Homo ventrambulans."

--Ambrose Bierce

fireplace on fire

SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower field under clear sky

VITUPERATION, n. Saite, as understood by dunces and all such as suffer from an impediment in their wit.

--Ambrose Bierce

Painting of Stonehenge

Generous, adj. Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.

--Ambrose Bierce

crescent moon above mountain

LIFE, n. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay. We live in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed.

--Ambrose Bierce


brown leaf tree facing the lake

With brains and honesty, some five and twenty long years as champion of all that's good.

--Ambrose Bierce

full moon in the sky

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

couple sitting on the field facing the city

A violin is the revenge exacted by the intestines of a dead cat.

--Ambrose Bierce

black wooden louver door window

Adherent, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower field under clear sky

Plagiarism, n. A literary coincidence compounded of a discreditable priority and an honorable subsequence.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue and white water waves

IMPALE, v.t. In popular usage, to pierce with any weapon which remains fixed in the wound ... properly, to put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the body, the victim being left in a sitting position.

--Ambrose Bierce

mountains under white mist at daytime

A bride is a woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.

--Ambrose Bierce


woman looking up to the sky while standing on white sand

An acquaintance is someone we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.

--Ambrose Bierce

person in black shoes standing on gray concrete floor

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

Blue to purple gradient

Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.

--Ambrose Bierce



yellow sunflower in bloom plantation

FIDELITY, n. A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.

--Ambrose Bierce

foggy mountains

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

--Ambrose Bierce

tree and ranchhouse

Ardor, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of off-road car

ARMY, n. A class of non-producers who defend the nation by devouring everything likely to tempt an enemy to invade.

--Ambrose Bierce

selective focus photography of woman taking selfie

PLATONIC, adj. Pertaining to the philosophy of Socrates. Platonic Love is a fool's name for the affection between a disability and a frost.

--Ambrose Bierce

body of water

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

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of mountains during starry night

HYDRA, n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads.

--Ambrose Bierce

black textile in close up photography

IMBECILITY, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting censorious critics of this dictionary.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of trees near body of water during sunset

Optimism: The doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.

--Ambrose Bierce

couple sitting near trees during golden hour

Intolerance is natural and logical, for in every dissenting opinion lies an assumption of superior wisdom.

--Ambrose Bierce

person holding dried beans

MERCY, n. An attribute beloved of detected offenders.

--Ambrose Bierce

boy standing on grass and facing fence during daytime

KILT, n. A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and Americans in Scotland.

--Ambrose Bierce

empty gray floor beside pool

Exception, n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc.

--Ambrose Bierce

empty brown concrete stairs beside green grass under starry sky long-exposure photography

Cribbage, n. A substitute for conversation among those to whom nature has denied ideas.

--Ambrose Bierce

green leaf

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

--Ambrose Bierce

brown and black leaf in close up photography

Kiss. n. A word invented by the poets as a rhyme for "bliss."

--Ambrose Bierce

closeup photography of brown and gray concrete bricks

Abnormal, adj. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought and conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to be detested.

--Ambrose Bierce


sunset with agave stem

Politeness -- The most acceptable hypocrisy..

--Ambrose Bierce

None

ROPE, n. An obsolescent appliance for reminding assassins that they too are mortal. It is put about the neck and remains in place one's whole life long.

--Ambrose Bierce

person wearing black leather shoe

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

--Ambrose Bierce

photo of pine tree

He who thinks with difficulty believes with alacrity.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue and white abstract painting

That gold refines not, sweetens not a life of conjugal brutality and strife, that vice is vulgar though it gilded shine.

--Ambrose Bierce

white flower graphic wallpaper

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

group of camels walking on desert lake at daytime

HYENA, n. A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its habit of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead. But the medical student does that.

--Ambrose Bierce

bird's eye view photography of trees and body of water

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

--Ambrose Bierce

aerial photography of pine trees with mist

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

--Ambrose Bierce

None

A miracle is an act or event out of the order of nature and unaccountable, as beating a normal hand of four kings and an ace with four aces and a king.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of trees during nighttime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

full moon in the sky

Miss: A title with which we brand unmarried women to indicate that they are in the market. Miss, Misses (Mrs.) and Mister (Mr.) are the three most distinctly disagreeable words in the language, in sound and sense.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown rock formation on body of water during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

time lapse photography of lightning during storm

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

white flower graphic wallpaper

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow painted wall

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

gray cactus plant on white pot

TELEPHONE n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown sands

Enthusiasm -- a distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.

--Ambrose Bierce

silver round analog wall clock

For every man there is something in the vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it.

--Ambrose Bierce

black and yellow wall sconce

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.

--Ambrose Bierce



water on seashore

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.

--Ambrose Bierce


silhouette photo of person holding flashlight under milk way

Peace in international affairs: a period of cheating between periods of fighting.

--Ambrose Bierce

starry night in Texas

Evolutionary biology is genuinely scientific, but more than that it opens the door to a world more marvellous than any Christian fundamentalist has ever read into the pages of the Bible.

--Ambrose Bierce

close shot of yellow flowers

Predilection, n. The preparatory stage of disillusion.

--Ambrose Bierce

black and blue starry night

OUTCOME, n. A particular type of disappointment ... judged by the outcome, the result. This is immortal nonsense; the wisdom of an act is to be juded by the light that the doer had when he performed it.

--Ambrose Bierce

white and black satellite dish on brown field during night time

Entertainment, n. Any kind of amusement whose inroads stop short of death by injection.

--Ambrose Bierce

leafless tree under gray sky

MISCREANT, n. A person of the highest degree of unworth. Etymologically, the word means unbeliever, and its present signification may be regarded as theology's noblest contribution to the development of our language.

--Ambrose Bierce

green grass field

Book -- Learning : The dunce's derisive term for all knowledge that transcends his own impertinent ignorance.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow labrador retriever puppy sitting on floor

Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me.

--Ambrose Bierce

orange leaves tree

ANIMAL, n. An organism which, requiring a great number of other animals for its sustenance, illustrates in a marked way the bounty of Providence in preserving the lives of his creatures.

--Ambrose Bierce

selective photography of green leaf plant

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

--Ambrose Bierce

person wearing black leather shoe

PLEONASM, n. An army of words escorting a corporal of thought.

--Ambrose Bierce

person walking on snowfield

There are two instruments worse than a clarinet -- two clarinets.

--Ambrose Bierce

mountains under white mist at daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of person standing beside bare tree under stary sky

Magpie, n.: A bird whose theivish disposition suggested to someone that it might be taught to talk.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of woman hugging mna under starry night sky

POLITICIAN, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles, he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice.

--Ambrose Bierce

closeup photography of brown and gray concrete bricks

ETHNOLOGY, n. The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists.

--Ambrose Bierce

wide lake over sunset view

A coward is one who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.

--Ambrose Bierce

green forest during daytime

Patriotism: The first resort of a scoundrel.

--Ambrose Bierce

aerial photography of forest

Laziness. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.

--Ambrose Bierce

purple and white clouds during night time

ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.

--Ambrose Bierce


woman on seashore near island under blue sky

Boundary, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another.

--Ambrose Bierce


light match stick

Aim, n. The task we set our wishes to.

--Ambrose Bierce

person wearing red jacket climbing on glacier

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

--Ambrose Bierce

white textile in close up photography

Insurance -- 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.

--Ambrose Bierce

people raises hands

Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.

--Ambrose Bierce



woman looking up to the sky while standing on white sand

Slang is a foul pool at which every dunce fills his bucket, and then sets up as a fountain.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown grass field during daytime

PHYSICIAN, n. One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.

--Ambrose Bierce

closeup photo of lounger chairs and beach umbrellas

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

--Ambrose Bierce

Light blue to dark blue gradient

INADMISSIBLE- Not competent to be considered. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible ... but there is no religion in the world that has any other basis than hearsay evidence.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of trees during nighttime

DOG: A kind of additional or subsidiary Diety designed to catch the overflow or surplus of the world's worship.

--Ambrose Bierce

black mountain under blue sky during night time

Alligator: The crocodile of America, superior in every detail to the crocodile of the effete monarchies of the Old World.

--Ambrose Bierce

aerial's photo of metropolitan during night time\

Riot -- A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent bystanders.

--Ambrose Bierce

sliced lemon on pink surface

Achievement; the death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.

--Ambrose Bierce


green leafed seedlings on black plastic pots

A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow sunflower in close up photography

CEMETERY, n. An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target and stone-cutters spell for a wager.

--Ambrose Bierce

selective focus photo of iceberg on large body of water at winter

In forgiving an injury be somewhat ceremonious, lest your magnanimity be construed as indifference.

--Ambrose Bierce

pink and white light illustration

INK, n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic, and water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual crime.

--Ambrose Bierce

gray concrete surface

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

--Ambrose Bierce

toddlers standing outdoors

SERIAL, n. A literary work, usually a story that is not true, creeping through several issues of a newspaper or magazine.

--Ambrose Bierce

gray and white concrete floor

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

Botany, n. The science of vegetables -- those that are not good to eat, as well as those that are. It deals largely with their flowers, which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color, and ill-smelling.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape snow

ENVY, n. Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity.

--Ambrose Bierce

calm body of water near alp mountains during nighttime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

brown rock formation

Heathen, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something he can see and feel.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

PROBOSCIS, n. The rudimentary organ of an elephant which serves him in place of the knife-and-fork that Evolution has as yet denied him. For purposes of humor it is popularly called a trunk.

--Ambrose Bierce

Light blue to dark blue gradient

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

None

Present, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.

--Ambrose Bierce

white and blue ice on water

Fear has no brains; it is an idiot. The dismal witness that it bears and the cowardly counsel that it whispers are unrelated.

--Ambrose Bierce

shallow focus photography of condenser microphone

HERMIT, n. A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue, yellow, and brown wall decor

Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.

--Ambrose Bierce

pink and blue painted wall

An old wine-bibber having been smashed in a railway collision, some wine was poured on his lips to revive him.

--Ambrose Bierce

man in blue jacket and blue pants carrying black and red backpack standing on snow covered

EPIGRAM, n. A short, sharp saying in prose or verse, frequently characterize by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom.

--Ambrose Bierce

body of water

TABLE D'HOTE, n. A caterer's thrifty concession to the universal passion for irresponsibility.

--Ambrose Bierce

shade under a green-leafed tree

To seek a justification for a decision already made.

--Ambrose Bierce

red and white led lighted heart decor

REALISM, n. The art of depicting nature as it is seem by toads. The charm suffusing a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring-worm.

--Ambrose Bierce

red strawberry fruit on red surface

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

--Ambrose Bierce

leafless tree on body of water during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

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Crowned with leaves of the laurel. In England the Poet Laureate is an officer of the sovereign's court, acting as dancing skeleton at every royal feast and singing-mute at every royal funeral.

--Ambrose Bierce

green mountain ]

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

--Ambrose Bierce

gray elephant

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

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset highway

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

--Ambrose Bierce


person with black tattoo on left hand

Kindness n: A brief preface to ten volumes of exaction.

--Ambrose Bierce


silhouette photo of aurora borealis

An egotist is a person of low taste -- more interested in himself than in me.

--Ambrose Bierce

green leaf in close up photography

So I say a name, even if self-bestowed, is better than a number. In the register of the potter's field I shall soon have both. What wealth!

--Ambrose Bierce

None

Edible -- 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.

--Ambrose Bierce

purple and black light illustration

ADMINISTRATION, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.

--Ambrose Bierce


rock formation surrounding by body of water

Duty -- that which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.

--Ambrose Bierce


rock formation surrounding by body of water

An auctioneer is a man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.

--Ambrose Bierce

green grass field

PRIVATE, n. A military gentleman with a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack and an impediment in his hope.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower field under clear sky

WHANGDEPOOTENAWAH, n. In the Ojibwa tongue, disaster; an unexpected affliction that strikes hard.

--Ambrose Bierce


yellow green leaf

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

--Ambrose Bierce

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Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow bee beside purple petaled flower during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

white pendant lamp

Experience -- the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.

--Ambrose Bierce


yellow sunflower under blue sky during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette photography of wavy ocean

Childhood: 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.

--Ambrose Bierce

boat on sea far away from island

Magic: (n) The art of converting superstition into coin.

--Ambrose Bierce

person in red shirt walking on brown field under gray sky during daytime

Adolescence: A stage between infancy and adultery.

--Ambrose Bierce

green grass field with smoke

Immortality: 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.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of off-road car

RECONCILIATION, n. A suspension of hostilities. An armed truce for the purpose of digging up the dead.

--Ambrose Bierce

river in the middle of green and yellow mountains

Appeal. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.

--Ambrose Bierce


brown and gray floral textile

WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity.

--Ambrose Bierce

rocks on sea side at daytime

Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.

--Ambrose Bierce

aerial photography of beach

Adolescence: The stage between puberty and adultery.

--Ambrose Bierce

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Sacerdotalist, n. One who holds the belief that a clergyman is a priest. Denial of this momentous doctrine is the hardest challenge that is now flung into the teeth of the Episcopalian church by the Neo-Dictionarians.

--Ambrose Bierce

seashore during daytime

Consul -- 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.

--Ambrose Bierce

close up shot of white flower

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

--Ambrose Bierce

blue and white light digital wallpaper

OYSTER, n. A slimy, gobby shellfish which civilization gives men the hardihood to eat without removing its entrails! The shells are sometimes given to the poor.

--Ambrose Bierce

black pug puppy lying on gray bed

An absolute monarchy is one in which the sovereign does as he pleases so long as he pleases the assassins.

--Ambrose Bierce


crack in wall

MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.

--Ambrose Bierce

close up shot of white flower

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

--Ambrose Bierce


horse

Disobey n:To celebrate with an appropriate ceremony the maturity of a command.

--Ambrose Bierce

aerial photography of pine trees with mist

OBLIVION, n. The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fame's eternal dumping ground.

--Ambrose Bierce

black textile in close up photography

OATH, n. In law, a solemn appeal to the Deity, made binding upon the conscience by a penalty for perjury.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow green leaf

STORY, n. A narrative, commonly untrue. The truth of the stories here following has, however, not been successfully impeached.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow flower field during sunset

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

--Ambrose Bierce

black, purple, and orange basketball court beside concrete buildings at daytime

An accident is an inevitable occurrence due to the actions of immutable natural laws.

--Ambrose Bierce


yellow flower in green grass field

PROPHECY The art and practice of selling one's credibility for future delivery.

--Ambrose Bierce

adult black and white dog leaning on wooden fence

Opportunity is a favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.

--Ambrose Bierce

lights pattern swirls

Convictions are variable; to be always consistent is to be sometimes dishonest.

--Ambrose Bierce

photography of white sky at golden hour

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

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

--Ambrose Bierce

black and gray textile in close up photography

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.

--Ambrose Bierce



white desk lamp beside green plant

POCKET, n. The cradle of motive and the grave of conscience. In woman this organ is lacking; so she acts without motive, and her conscience, denied burial, remains ever alive, confessing the sins of others.

--Ambrose Bierce

pink and white light illustration

We must stop chasing dollars, stop lying, stop cheating, stop ignoring art, literature, and all the refining agencies and instrumentalities of civilization.

--Ambrose Bierce

body of water

SORCERY, n. The ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence. It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was punished by torture and death.

--Ambrose Bierce

pair of white lace-up shoes

PRISON, n. A place of punishments and rewards. The poet assures us that -- stone walls do not a prison make.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue and white water waves

Censor, n. An officer of certain governments, employed to supress the works of genius. Among the Romans the censor was an inspector of public morals, but the public morals of modern nations will not bear inspection.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown and gray mountains during daytime

BEGGAR, n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.

--Ambrose Bierce

man wearing black jacket standing on street

Irreligion -- the principal one of the great faiths of the world.

--Ambrose Bierce

brown and white humming bird

Rome has seven sacraments, but the Protestant churches, being less prosperous, feel that they can afford only two, and these of inferior sanctity.

--Ambrose Bierce

Oak Creek Sedona

Hypocrisy: prejudice with a halo.

--Ambrose Bierce


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PHYSIOGNOMY, n. The art of determining the character of another by the resemblances and differences between his face and our own, which is the standard of excellence.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue sky with stars during night time

Consult: To seek approval for a course of action already decided upon.

--Ambrose Bierce

two women making peace sign near the Golden Gate bridge

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

--Ambrose Bierce

orange abstract painting

Prejudice -- a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.

--Ambrose Bierce

white and pink roses on pink wall

HARMONISTS, n. A sect of Protestants, now extinct, who came from Europe in the beginning of the last century and were distinguished for the bitterness of their internal controversies and dissensions.

--Ambrose Bierce

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EXISTENCE, n. A transient, horrible, fantastic dream, Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem: From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge Of our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of three people up on mountain cliff

Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.

--Ambrose Bierce

purple flowered hedge plants

Suddenly to change one's opinions and go over to another party. The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our partisan journals.

--Ambrose Bierce

Arizona landscape

Liberty is one of the imagination's most precious possessions.

--Ambrose Bierce

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Liver, n. A large red organ thoughtfully provided by nature to be bilious with. The liver is heaven's best gift to the goose; without it that bird would be unable to supply us with the Strasbourg "pate."

--Ambrose Bierce


brown grass field near gray rocky mountain during daytime

SATIRE, n. An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness.

--Ambrose Bierce

foggy mountains

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

--Ambrose Bierce

brown sand under blue sky during daytime

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

--Ambrose Bierce

shallow focus photography of brown parquet flooring

Phoenix, n.
The classical prototype of the modern 'small hot bird.'

--Ambrose Bierce

purple textile in close up photography

MANICHEISM, n. The ancient Persian doctrine of an incessant warfare between Good and Evil. When Good gave up the fight the Persians joined the victorious Opposition.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of trees during nighttime

Dictionary, n. A malevolent literacy device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic.

--Ambrose Bierce

green grass field with smoke

I keep a conscience uncorrupted by religion, a judgment undimmed by politics and patriotism, a heart untainted by friendships and sentiments unsoured by animosities.

--Ambrose Bierce

library shelf near black wooden ladder

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

--Ambrose Bierce

assorted-color beach houses

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.

--Ambrose Bierce

sunset

ULTIMATUM, n. In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions.

--Ambrose Bierce

grayscale photo of desert

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

man standing outdoors

Me, pro. The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three.

--Ambrose Bierce

white petaled flower

Gunpowder, n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted.

--Ambrose Bierce


three person looking stars and milky way

Psuh, n. One of the two things mainly conducive to success, especially in politics. The other is Pull.

--Ambrose Bierce

person wearing red running shoe

A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.

--Ambrose Bierce

photo of pine trees

HOMILETICS, n. The science of adapting sermons to the spiritual needs, capacities and conditions of the congregation.

--Ambrose Bierce

forest and body of water

THEOSOPHY, n. An ancient faith having all the certitude of religion and all the mystery of science.

--Ambrose Bierce

seashore at daytime

A revolution is a violent change of mismanagement.

--Ambrose Bierce

blue, yellow, and purple starry sky during nighttime

NECTAR, n. A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient.

--Ambrose Bierce

panoramic photography of mountains

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

white wall paint beside white wall

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..

--Ambrose Bierce

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Alliance -- 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.

--Ambrose Bierce

selective focus photo of iceberg on large body of water at winter

APOTHECARY, n. The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor and grave worm's provider.

--Ambrose Bierce

black textile on white background

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

--Ambrose Bierce

forest at daytime

Immigrant: An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another.

--Ambrose Bierce


aerial view of gray building on brown sand

Sweater, n. Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.

--Ambrose Bierce

silhouette of man looking towards left

Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.

--Ambrose Bierce

pink and blue sky with moon

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

--Ambrose Bierce

person standing on top of mountain

Advice: The suggestions you give someone else which you hope will work for your benefit.

--Ambrose Bierce

yellow and blue painted wall

A rabbit's foot may bring good luck to you, but it brought none to the rabbit.

--Ambrose Bierce


snow covered mountain under blue sky during daytime

Respectability, n. The offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account.

--Ambrose Bierce

We wish you a perfect day!