The DevilsDictionary

AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1913)


Public Domain — Copyright Expired





G   |   H   |   I   |   Index



[The Letter G]


n. A stage for the performance of miracle plays, in which the leading actor is translated to heaven. In this country the gallows is chiefly remarkable for the number of persons who escape it.
    Whether on the gallows high
        Or where blood flows the reddest,
    The noblest place for man to die —
        Is where he died the deadest.
                                                         Old Play
n. A rain-spout projecting from the eaves of mediaeval buildings, commonly fashioned into a grotesque caricature of some personal enemy of the architect or owner of the building. This was especially the case in churches and ecclesiastical structures generally, in which the gargoyles presented a perfect rogues' gallery of local heretics and controversialists. Sometimes when a new dean and chapter were installed the old gargoyles were removed and others substituted having a closer relation to the private animosities of the new incumbents.
n. An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country.
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.
n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
adj. Refined, after the fashion of a gent.
    Observe with care, my son, the distinction I reveal:
    A gentleman is gentle and a gent genteel.
    Heed not the definitions your "Unabridged" presents,
    For dictionary makers are generally gents.
n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside of the world and the inside.
    Habeam, geographer of wide renown,
    Native of Abu-Keber's ancient town,
    In passing thence along the river Zam
    To the adjacent village of Xelam,
    Bewildered by the multitude of roads,
    Got lost, lived long on migratory toads,
    Then from exposure miserably died,
    And grateful travelers bewailed their guide.
                                                   Henry Haukhorn
n. The science of the earth's crust — to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.
n. The outward and visible sign of an inward fear.
            He saw a ghost.
    It occupied — that dismal thing! —
    The path that he was following.
    Before he'd time to stop and fly,
    An earthquake trifled with the eye
            That saw a ghost.
    He fell as fall the early good;
    Unmoved that awful vision stood.
    The stars that danced before his ken
    He wildly brushed away, and then
            He saw a post.
                                                 Jared Macphester

    Accounting for the uncommon behavior of ghosts, Heine mentions
somebody's ingenious theory to the effect that they are as much
afraid of us as we of them. Not quite, if I may judge from such
tables of comparative speed as I am able to compile from memories
of my own experience.
    There is one insuperable obstacle to a belief in ghosts. A ghost
never comes naked: he appears either in a winding-sheet or "in his
habit as he lived."  To believe in him, then, is to believe that not
only have the dead the power to make themselves visible after there
is nothing left of them, but that the same power inheres in textile
fabrics.  Supposing the products of the loom to have this ability,
what object would they have in exercising it? And why does not the
apparition of a suit of clothes sometimes walk abroad without a ghost
in it? These be riddles of significance. They reach away down and
get a convulsive grip on the very tap-root of this flourishing faith.
n. A demon addicted to the reprehensible habit of devouring the dead. The existence of ghouls has been disputed by that class of controversialists who are more concerned to deprive the world of comforting beliefs than to give it anything good in their place. In 1640 Father Secchi saw one in a cemetery near Florence and frightened it away with the sign of the cross. He describes it as gifted with many heads and an uncommon allowance of limbs, and he saw it in more than one place at a time. The good man was coming away from dinner at the time and explains that if he had not been "heavy with eating" he would have seized the demon at all hazards. Atholston relates that a ghoul was caught by some sturdy peasants in a churchyard at Sudbury and ducked in a horsepond. (He appears to think that so distinguished a criminal should have been ducked in a tank of rose-water.) The water turned at once to blood "and so contynues unto ys daye." The pond has since been bled with a ditch. As late as the beginning of the fourteenth century a ghoul was cornered in the crypt of the cathedral at Amiens and the whole population surrounded the place. Twenty armed men with a priest at their head, bearing a crucifix, entered and captured the ghoul, which, thinking to escape by the stratagem, had transformed itself to the semblance of a well known citizen, but was nevertheless hanged, drawn and quartered in the midst of hideous popular orgies. The citizen whose shape the demon had assumed was so affected by the sinister occurrence that he never again showed himself in Amiens and his fate remains a mystery.
n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia.
n. In North-European mythology, a dwarfish imp inhabiting the interior parts of the earth and having special custody of mineral treasures. Bjorsen, who died in 1765, says gnomes were common enough in the southern parts of Sweden in his boyhood, and he frequently saw them scampering on the hills in the evening twilight. Ludwig Binkerhoof saw three as recently as 1792, in the Black Forest, and Sneddeker avers that in 1803 they drove a party of miners out of a Silesian mine. Basing our computations upon data supplied by these statements, we find that the gnomes were probably extinct as early as 1764.
n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers.
n. An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.
    A hunter from Kew caught a distant view
        Of a peacefully meditative gnu,
    And he said: "I'll pursue, and my hands imbrue
        In its blood at a closer interview."
    But that beast did ensue and the hunter it threw
        O'er the top of a palm that adjacent grew;
    And he said as he flew: "It is well I withdrew
        Ere, losing my temper, I wickedly slew
        That really meritorious gnu."
                                                      Jarn Leffer
adj. Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer. Alive, sir, to the advantages of letting him alone.
n. A bird that supplies quills for writing. These, by some occult process of nature, are penetrated and suffused with various degrees of the bird's intellectual energies and emotional character, so that when inked and drawn mechanically across paper by a person called an "author," there results a very fair and accurate transcript of the fowl's thought and feeling. The difference in geese, as discovered by this ingenious method, is considerable: many are found to have only trivial and insignificant powers, but some are seen to be very great geese indeed.
    The Gorgon was a maiden bold
    Who turned to stone the Greeks of old
    That looked upon her awful brow.
    We dig them out of ruins now,
    And swear that workmanship so bad
    Proves all the ancient sculptors mad.
n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
n. Three beautiful goddesses, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, who attended upon Venus, serving without salary. They were at no expense for board and clothing, for they ate nothing to speak of and dressed according to the weather, wearing whatever breeze happened to be blowing.
n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.
    Hail noble fruit! — by Homer sung,
        Anacreon and Khayyam;
    Thy praise is ever on the tongue
        Of better men than I am.

    The lyre in my hand has never swept,
        The song I cannot offer:
    My humbler service pray accept —
        I'll help to kill the scoffer.

    The water-drinkers and the cranks
        Who load their skins with liquor —
    I'll gladly bear their belly-tanks
        And tap them with my sticker.

    Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools
        When e'er we let the wine rest.
    Here's death to Prohibition's fools,
        And every kind of vine-pest!
                                                  Jamrach Holobom
n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism.
n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.
    Beside a lonely grave I stood —
        With brambles 'twas encumbered;
    The winds were moaning in the wood,
        Unheard by him who slumbered,

    A rustic standing near, I said:
        "He cannot hear it blowing!"
    "'Course not," said he: "the feller's dead —
        He can't hear nowt that's going."

    "Too true," I said; "alas, too true —
        No sound his sense can quicken!"
    "Well, mister, wot is that to you? —
        The deadster ain't a-kickin'."

    I knelt and prayed: "O Father, smile
        On him, and mercy show him!"
    That countryman looked on the while,
        And said: "Ye didn't know him."
                                                     Pobeter Dunk
n. The tendency of all bodies to approach one another with a strength proportion to the quantity of matter they contain — the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength of their tendency to approach one another. This is a lovely and edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, makes B the proof of A.
    "I'm great," the Lion said — "I reign
    The monarch of the wood and plain!"

    The Elephant replied: "I'm great —
    No quadruped can match my weight!"

    "I'm great — no animal has half
    So long a neck!" said the Giraffe.

    "I'm great," the Kangaroo said — "see
    My femoral muscularity!"

    The 'Possum said: "I'm great — behold,
    My tail is lithe and bald and cold!"

    An Oyster fried was understood
    To say: "I'm great because I'm good!"

    Each reckons greatness to consist
    In that in which he heads the list,

    And Vierick thinks he tops his class
    Because he is the greatest ass.
                                                 Arion Spurl Doke
n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.
    In his great work on Divergent Lines of Racial Evolution, the
learned Professor Brayfugle argues from the prevalence of this
gesture — the shrug — among Frenchmen, that they are descended
from turtles and it is simply a survival of the habit of retracing
the head inside the shell. It is with reluctance that I differ with
so eminent an authority, but in my judgment (as more elaborately
set forth and enforced in my work entitled Hereditary Emotions —
lib. II, c. XI) the shrug is a poor foundation upon which to build
so important a theory, for previously to the Revolution the gesture
was unknown. I have not a doubt that it is directly referable to
the terror inspiredby the guillotine during the period of that
instrument's activity.
n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels. Moreover, it has the hearty concurrence of the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary Wilson became interested in gunpowder through an event that occurred on the Government experimental farm in the District of Columbia. One day, several years ago, a rogue imperfectly reverent of the Secretary's profound attainments and personal character presented him with a sack of gunpowder, representing it as the seed of the Flashawful flabbergastor, a Patagonian cereal of great commercial value, admirably adapted to this climate. The good Secretary was instructed to spill it along in a furrow and afterward inhume it with soil. This he at once proceeded to do, and had made a continuous line of it all the way across a ten-acre field, when he was made to look backward by a shout from the generous donor, who at once dropped a lighted match into the furrow at the starting-point. Contact with the earth had somewhat dampened the powder, but the startled functionary saw himself pursued by a tall moving pillar of fire and smoke and fierce evolution. He stood for a moment paralyzed and speechless, then he recollected an engagement and, dropping all, absented himself thence with such surprising celerity that to the eyes of spectators along the route selected he appeared like a long, dim streak prolonging itself with inconceivable rapidity through seven villages, and audibly refusing to be comforted. "Great Scott! what is that?" cried a surveyor's chainman, shading his eyes and gazing at the fading line of agriculturist which bisected his visible horizon. "That," said the surveyor, carelessly glancing at the phenomenon and again centering his attention upon his instrument, "is the Meridian of Washington."




[The Letter H]


A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime.
n. A shackle for the free.
n. The lower world; the residence of departed spirits; the place where the dead live.
    Among the ancients the idea of Hades was not synonymous with
our Hell, many of the most respectable men of antiquity residing
there in a very comfortable kind of way. Indeed, the Elysian Fields
themselves were a part of Hades, though they have since been removed
to Paris.  When the Jacobean version of the New Testament was in
process of evolution the pious and learned men engaged in the work
insisted by a majority vote on translating the Greek word Aidhe 
as "Hell"; but a conscientious minority member secretly possessed
himself of the record and struck out the objectionable word wherever
he could find it. At the next meeting, the Bishop of Salisbury,
looking over the work, suddenly sprang to his feet and said with
considerable excitement: "Gentlemen, somebody has been razing 'Hell'
here!" Years afterward the good prelate's death was made sweet by
the reflection that he had been the means (under Providence) of
making an important, serviceable and immortal addition to the
phraseology of the English tongue.
n. An elderly lady whom you do not happen to like; sometimes called, also, a hen, or cat. Old witches, sorceresses, etc., were called hags from the belief that their heads were surrounded by a kind of baleful lumination or nimbus — hag being the popular name of that peculiar electrical light sometimes observed in the hair. At one time hag was not a word of reproach: Drayton speaks of a "beautiful hag, all smiles," much as Shakespeare said, "sweet wench." It would not now be proper to call your sweetheart a hag — that compliment is reserved for the use of her grandchildren.
n. One of two equal parts into which a thing may be divided, or considered as divided. In the fourteenth century a heated discussion arose among theologists and philosophers as to whether Omniscience could part an object into three halves; and the pious Father Aldrovinus publicly prayed in the cathedral at Rouen that God would demonstrate the affirmative of the proposition in some signal and unmistakable way, and particularly (if it should please Him) upon the body of that hardy blasphemer, Manutius Procinus, who maintained the negative. Procinus, however, was spared to die of the bite of a viper.
n. Properly, a luminous ring encircling an astronomical body, but not infrequently confounded with "aureola," or "nimbus," a somewhat similar phenomenon worn as a head-dress by divinities and saints. The halo is a purely optical illusion, produced by moisture in the air, in the manner of a rainbow; but the aureola is conferred as a sign of superior sanctity, in the same way as a bishop's mitre, or the Pope's tiara. In the painting of the Nativity, by Szedgkin, a pious artist of Pesth, not only do the Virgin and the Child wear the nimbus, but an ass nibbling hay from the sacred manger is similarly decorated and, to his lasting honor be it said, appears to bear his unaccustomed dignity with a truly saintly grace.
n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody's pocket.
n. A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears. The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and intrusted its duties to the sleeve. Shakespeare's introducing it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coattails in our own day — an evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward.
n. An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity have recently been ordered — the first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen.
n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
n. A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harrangue-outang.
n. A place where ships taking shelter from stores are exposed to the fury of the customs.
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.
x. There is no definition for this word — nobody knows what hash is.
n. A young axe, known among Indians as a Thomashawk.
    "O bury the hatchet, irascible Red,
    For peace is a blessing," the White Man said.
        The Savage concurred, and that weapon interred,
    With imposing rites, in the White Man's head.
                                                      John Lukkus
n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.
n. A capitation tax, or poll-tax.
    In ancient times there lived a king
    Whose tax-collectors could not wring
    From all his subjects gold enough
    To make the royal way less rough.
    For pleasure's highway, like the dames
    Whose premises adjoin it, claims
    Perpetual repairing. So
    The tax-collectors in a row
    Appeared before the throne to pray
    Their master to devise some way
    To swell the revenue. "So great,"
    Said they, "are the demands of state
    A tithe of all that we collect
    Will scarcely meet them. Pray reflect:
    How, if one-tenth we must resign,
    Can we exist on t'other nine?"
    The monarch asked them in reply:
    "Has it occurred to you to try
    The advantage of economy?"
    "It has," the spokesman said: "we sold
    All of our gray garrotes of gold;
    With plated-ware we now compress
    The necks of those whom we assess.
    Plain iron forceps we employ
    To mitigate the miser's joy
    Who hoards, with greed that never tires,
    That which your Majesty requires."
    Deep lines of thought were seen to plow
    Their way across the royal brow.
    "Your state is desperate, no question;
    Pray favor me with a suggestion."
    "O King of Men," the spokesman said,
    "If you'll impose upon each head
    A tax, the augmented revenue
    We'll cheerfully divide with you."
    As flashes of the sun illume
    The parted storm-cloud's sullen gloom,
    The king smiled grimly. "I decree
    That it be so — and, not to be
    In generosity outdone,
    Declare you, each and every one,
    Exempted from the operation
    Of this new law of capitation.
    But lest the people censure me
    Because they're bound and you are free,
    'Twere well some clever scheme were laid
    By you this poll-tax to evade.
    I'll leave you now while you confer
    With my most trusted minister."
    The monarch from the throne-room walked
    And straightway in among them stalked
    A silent man, with brow concealed,
    Bare-armed — his gleaming axe revealed!
n. Death's baby-carriage.
n. An automatic, muscular blood-pump. Figuratively, this useful organ is said to be the seat of emotions and sentiments — a very pretty fancy which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once universal belief. It is now known that the sentiments and emotions reside in the stomach, being evolved from food by chemical action of the gastric fluid. The exact process by which a beefsteak becomes a feeling — tender or not, according to the age of the animal from which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration through which a caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears as a pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh of sensibility — these things have been patiently ascertained by M. Pasteur, and by him expounded with convincing lucidity. (See, also, my monograph, The Essential Identity of the Spiritual Affections and Certain Intestinal Gases Freed in Digestion — 4to, 687 pp.) In a scientific work entitled, I believe, Delectatio Demonorum (John Camden Hotton, London, 1873) this view of the sentiments receives a striking illustration; and for further light consult Professor Dam's famous treatise on Love as a Product of Alimentary Maceration.
    Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode
        Of motion, but I know now how he's proving
    His point; but this I know — hot words bestowed
        With skill will set the human fist a-moving,
    And where it stops the stars burn free and wild.
    Crede expertum — I have seen them, child.
                                                     Gorton Swope
n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel. According to Professor Howison, of the California State University, Hebrews are heathens.
    "The Hebrews are heathens!" says Howison. He's
        A Christian philosopher. I'm
    A scurril agnostical chap, if you please,
        Addicted too much to the crime
        Of religious discussion in my rhyme.

    Though Hebrew and Howison cannot agree
        On a modus vivendi — not they! —
    Yet Heaven has had the designing of me,
        And I haven't been reared in a way
        To joy in the thick of the fray.

    For this of my creed is the soul and the gist,
        And the truth of it I aver:
    Who differs from me in his faith is an 'ist,
        And 'ite, an 'ic, or an 'er —
        And I'm down upon him or her!

    Let Howison urge with perfunctory chin
        Toleration — that's all very well,
    But a roast is "nuts" to his nostril thin,
        And he's running — I know by the smell —
        A secret and personal Hell!
                                                      Bissell Gip
n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.
n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior creation.
n. A wife, or bitter half.
    "Now, why is yer wife called a helpmate, Pat?"
        Says the priest. "Since the time 'o yer wooin'
    She's niver assisted in what ye were at —
        For it's naught ye are ever doin'."

    "That's true of yer Riverence," Patrick replies,
        And no sign of contrition evinces;
    "But, bedad, it's a fact which the word implies,
        For she helps to mate the expinses!"
                                                    Marley Wottel
n. A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of neckwear which is frequently put on after public speaking in the open air and prevents the wearer from taking cold.
n. A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.
pron. His.
v.i. To pass the winter season in domestic seclusion. There have been many singular popular notions about the hibernation of various animals. Many believe that the bear hibernates during the whole winter and subsists by mechanically sucking its paws. It is admitted that it comes out of its retirement in the spring so lean that it had to try twice before it can cast a shadow. Three or four centuries ago, in England, no fact was better attested than that swallows passed the winter months in the mud at the bottom of their brooks, clinging together in globular masses. They have apparently been compelled to give up the custom and account of the foulness of the brooks. Sotus Ecobius discovered in Central Asia a whole nation of people who hibernate. By some investigators, the fasting of Lent is supposed to have been originally a modified form of hibernation, to which the Church gave a religious significance; but this view was strenuously opposed by that eminent authority, Bishop Kip, who did not wish any honors denied to the memory of the Founder of his family.
n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, a one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises.
n. A broad-gauge gossip.
n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
    Of Roman history, great Niebuhr's shown
    'Tis nine-tenths lying.  Faith, I wish 'twere known,
    Ere we accept great Niebuhr as a guide,
    Wherein he blundered and how much he lied.
                                                      Salder Bupp
n. A bird remarkable for the catholicity of its appetite and serving to illustrate that of ours. Among the Mahometans and Jews, the hog is not in favor as an article of diet, but is respected for the delicacy and the melody of its voice. It is chiefly as a songster that the fowl is esteemed; the cage of him in full chorus has been known to draw tears from two persons at once. The scientific name of this dicky-bird is Porcus Rockefelleri. Mr. Rockefeller did not discover the hog, but it is considered his by right of resemblance.
n. The humorist of the medical profession.
n. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they can not.
n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: 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 advantage of the lawyers.
n. The science of adapting sermons to the spiritual needs, capacities and conditions of the congregation.
    So skilled the parson was in homiletics
    That all his normal purges and emetics
    To medicine the spirit were compounded
    With a most just discrimination founded
    Upon a rigorous examination
    Of tongue and pulse and heart and respiration.
    Then, having diagnosed each one's condition,
    His scriptural specifics this physician
    Administered — his pills so efficacious
    And pukes of disposition so vivacious
    That souls afflicted with ten kinds of Adam
    Were convalescent ere they knew they had 'em.
    But Slander's tongue — itself all coated — uttered
    Her bilious mind and scandalously muttered
    That in the case of patients having money
    The pills were sugar and the pukes were honey.
                                       Biography of Bishop Potter
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."
n. Desire and expectation rolled into one.
    Delicious Hope! when naught to man it left —
    Of fortune destitute, of friends bereft;
    When even his dog deserts him, and his goat
    With tranquil disaffection chews his coat
    While yet it hangs upon his back; then thou,
    The star far-flaming on thine angel brow,
    Descendest, radiant, from the skies to hint
    The promise of a clerkship in the Mint.
                                                  Fogarty Weffing
n. The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.
n. A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the earth's overpopulation. Hostility is classified as active and passive; as (respectively) the feeling of a woman for her female friends, and that which she entertains for all the rest of her sex.
n. A comely female inhabiting the Mohammedan Paradise to make things cheery for the good Mussulman, whose belief in her existence marks a noble discontent with his earthly spouse, whom he denies a soul. By that good lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient esteem.
n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus and microbe. House of Correction, a place of reward for political and personal service, and for the detention of offenders and appropriations. House of God, a building with a steeple and a mortgage on it. House-dog, a pestilent beast kept on domestic premises to insult persons passing by and appal the hardy visitor. House-maid, a youngerly person of the opposing sex employed to be variously disagreeable and ingeniously unclean in the station in which it has pleased God to place her.
adj. Having paid all taxes on household goods.
n. The fruit of a flower called the Palace.
        Twaddle had a hovel,
            Twiddle had a palace;
        Twaddle said: "I'll grovel
            Or he'll think I bear him malice" —
        A sentiment as novel
            As a castor on a chalice.

        Down upon the middle
            Of his legs fell Twaddle
        And astonished Mr. Twiddle,
            Who began to lift his noddle.

            Feed upon the fiddle-
                Faddle flummery, unswaddle
        A new-born self-sufficiency and think himself a model.
n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets.
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.
    Lo! the poor humorist, whose tortured mind
    See jokes in crowds, though still to gloom inclined —
    Whose simple appetite, untaught to stray,
    His brains, renewed by night, consumes by day.
    He thinks, admitted to an equal sty,
    A graceful hog would bear his company.
                                                   Alexander Poke
n. An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now generally abandoned for the tornado and cyclone. The hurricane is still in popular use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain old-fashioned sea-captains. It is also used in the construction of the upper decks of steamboats, but generally speaking, the hurricane's usefulness has outlasted it.
n. The dispatch of bunglers.
n. One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate.
n. A pooled issue.
n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads.
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.
n. Depression of one's own spirits.
    Some heaps of trash upon a vacant lot
    Where long the village rubbish had been shot
    Displayed a sign among the stuff and stumps —
    "Hypochondriasis." It meant The Dumps.
                                                   Bogul S. Purvy
n. One who, profession virtues that he does not respect secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.




[The Letter I]


is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language, the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its plural is said to be We, but how there can be more than one myself is doubtless clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this incomparable dictionary. Conception of two myselves is difficult, but fine. The frank yet graceful use of "I" distinguishes a good writer from a bad; the latter carries it with the manner of a thief trying to cloak his loot.
n. A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of blood.
    Fair Venus, speared by Diomed,
    Restrained the raging chief and said:
    "Behold, rash mortal, whom you've bled —
    Your soul's stained white with ichorshed!"
                                                        Mary Doke
n. A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest that he unbuildeth but doth not reëdify, 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."
n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.
n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.
n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about.
    Dumble was an ignoramus,
    Mumble was for learning famous.
    Mumble said one day to Dumble:
    "Ignorance should be more humble.
    Not a spark have you of knowledge
    That was got in any college."
    Dumble said to Mumble: "Truly
    You're self-satisfied unduly.
    Of things in college I'm denied
    A knowledge — you of all beside."
n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights — cunctationes illuminati.
adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction.
n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.
n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting censorious critics of this dictionary.
n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another.
adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with a feeble conception of worth in others.
    There was once a man in Ispahan
        Ever and ever so long ago,

    And he had a head, the phrenologists said,
        That fitted him for a show.

    For his modesty's bump was so large a lump
        (Nature, they said, had taken a freak)
    That its summit stood far above the wood
        Of his hair, like a mountain peak.

    So modest a man in all Ispahan,
        Over and over again they swore —
    So humble and meek, you would vainly seek;
        None ever was found before.

    Meantime the hump of that awful bump
        Into the heavens contrived to get
    To so great a height that they called the wight
        The man with the minaret.

    There wasn't a man in all Ispahan
        Prouder, or louder in praise of his chump:
    With a tireless tongue and a brazen lung
        He bragged of that beautiful bump

    Till the Shah in a rage sent a trusty page
        Bearing a sack and a bow-string too,
    And that gentle child explained as he smiled:
        "A little present for you."

    The saddest man in all Ispahan,
        Sniffed at the gift, yet accepted the same.
    "If I'd lived," said he, "my humility
        Had given me deathless fame!"
                                                     Sukker Uffro
adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man's notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and nowise dependent on, their consequences — then all philosophy is a lie and reason a disorder of the mind.
    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.
v.t. In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains fixed in the wound. This, however, is inaccurate; to impale is, properly, to put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the body, the victim being left in a sitting position. This was a common mode of punishment among many of the nations of antiquity, and is still in high favor in China and other parts of Asia. Down to the beginning of the fifteenth century it was widely employed in "churching" heretics and schismatics. Wolecraft calls it the "stoole of repentynge," and among the common people it was jocularly known as "riding the one legged horse." Ludwig Salzmann informs us that in Thibet impalement is considered the most appropriate punishment for crimes against religion; and although in China it is sometimes awarded for secular offences, it is most frequently adjudged in cases of sacrilege. To the person in actual experience of impalement it must be a matter of minor importance by what kind of civil or religious dissent he was made acquainted with its discomforts; but doubtless he would feel a certain satisfaction if able to contemplate himself in the character of a weather-cock on the spire of the True Church.
adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two conflicting opinions.
n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between sin and punishment.
n. Your irreverence toward my deity.
n. The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on of hands — a ceremony common to many ecclesiastical systems, but performed with the frankest sincerity by the sect known as Thieves.
    "Lo! by the laying on of hands,"
        Say parson, priest and dervise,
    "We consecrate your cash and lands
            To ecclesiastical service.
    No doubt you'll swear till all is blue
    At such an imposition.  Do."
                                                     Pollo Doncas
n. A rival aspirant to public honors.
    His tale he told with a solemn face
    And a tender, melancholy grace.
        Improbable 'twas, no doubt,
        When you came to think it out,
        But the fascinated crowd
        Their deep surprise avowed
    And all with a single voice averred
    'Twas the most amazing thing they'd heard —
    All save one who spake never a word,
        But sat as mum
        As if deaf and dumb,
    Serene, indifferent and unstirred.

        Then all the others turned to him
        And scrutinized him limb from limb —
        Scanned him alive;
        But he seemed to thrive
        And tranquiler grow each minute,
        As if there were nothing in it.
    "What! what!" cried one, "are you not amazed
    At what our friend has told?" He raised
    Soberly then his eyes and gazed
        In a natural way
        And proceeded to say,
    As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:
    "O no — not at all; I'm a liar myself."
n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues of to-morrow.
n. Wealth.
adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political, commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other basis than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known to have been sworn in any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its support any evidence admissible in a court of law. It cannot be proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.
But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.
adv. In an unpromising manner, the auspices being unfavorable. Among the Romans it was customary before undertaking any important action or enterprise to obtain from the augurs, or state prophets, some hint of its probable outcome; and one of their favorite and most trustworthy modes of divination consisted in observing the flight of birds — the omens thence derived being called auspices. Newspaper reporters and certain miscreant lexicographers have decided that the word — always in the plural — shall mean "patronage" or "management"; as, "The festivities were under the auspices of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Body-Snatchers"; or, "The hilarities were auspicated by the Knights of Hunger."
    A Roman slave appeared one day
    Before the Augur. "Tell me, pray,
    If — " here the Augur, smiling, made
    A checking gesture and displayed
    His open palm, which plainly itched,
    For visibly its surface twitched.
    A denarius (the Latin nickel)
    Successfully allayed the tickle,
    And then the slave proceeded: "Please
    Inform me whether Fate decrees
    Success or failure in what I
    To-night (if it be dark) shall try.
    Its nature? Never mind — I think
    'Tis writ on this" — and with a wink
    Which darkened half the earth, he drew
    Another denarius to view,
    Its shining face attentive scanned,
    Then slipped it into the good man's hand,
    Who with great gravity said: "Wait
    While I retire to question Fate."
    That holy person then withdrew
    His scared clay and, passing through
    The temple's rearward gate, cried "Shoo!"
    Waving his robe of office. Straight
    Each sacred peacock and its mate
    (Maintained for Juno's favor) fled
    With clamor from the trees o'erhead,
    Where they were perching for the night.
    The temple's roof received their flight,
    For thither they would always go,
    When danger threatened them below.
    Back to the slave the Augur went:
    "My son, forecasting the event
    By flight of birds, I must confess
    The auspices deny success."
    That slave retired, a sadder man,
    Abandoning his secret plan —
    Which was (as well the craft seer
    Had from the first divined) to clear
    The wall and fraudulently seize
    On Juno's poultry in the trees.
n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of respectability, the commonly accepted standards being artificial, arbitrary and fallacious; for, as "Sir Sycophas Chrysolater" in the play has justly remarked, "the true use and function of property (in whatsoever it consisteth — coins, or land, or houses, or merchant- stuff, or anything which may be named as holden of right to one's own subservience) as also of honors, titles, preferments and place, and all favor and acquaintance of persons of quality or ableness, are but to get money. Hence it followeth that all things are truly to be rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness to that end; and their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto, neither the lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient, nor he who bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of a king, being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of daily accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and rightly take more honor than the poor and unworthy."
n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination. Incompatibility may, however, consist of a meek-eyed matron living just around the corner. It has even been known to wear a moustache.
adj. Unable to exist if something else exists. Two things are incompossible when the world of being has scope enough for one of them, but not enough for both — as Walt Whitman's poetry and God's mercy to man. Incompossibility, it will be seen, is only incompatibility let loose. Instead of such low language as "Go heel yourself — I mean to kill you on sight," the words, "Sir, we are incompossible," would convey and equally significant intimation and in stately courtesy are altogether superior.
n. One of a race of highly improper demons who, though probably not wholly extinct, may be said to have seen their best nights. For a complete account of incubi and succubi, including incubæ and succubæ, see the Liber Demonorum of Protassus (Paris, 1328), which contains much curious information that would be out of place in a dictionary intended as a text-book for the public schools.
Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself — tempted more than elsewhere by the beauty of the women, doubtless — sometimes plays at incubus, greatly to the inconvenience and alarm of the good dames who wish to be loyal to their marriage vows, generally speaking. A certain lady applied to the parish priest to learn how they might, in the dark, distinguish the hardy intruder from their husbands. The holy man said they must feel his brown for horns; but Hugo is ungallant enough to hint a doubt of the efficacy of the test.
n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
n. The chief element of success; "for whereas," saith Sir Thomas Brewbold, "there is but one way to do nothing and divers way to do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it followeth that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many chances of going astray as he who pusheth forwards" — a most clear and satisfactory exposition on the matter.
"Your prompt decision to attack," said Genera Grant on a certain occasion to General Gordon Granger, "was admirable; you had but five minutes to make up your mind in."
"Yes, sir," answered the victorious subordinate, "it is a great thing to be know exactly what to do in an emergency. When in doubt whether to attack or retreat I never hesitate a moment — I toss us a copper."
"Do you mean to say that's what you did this time?"
"Yes, General; but for Heaven's sake don't reprimand me: I disobeyed the coin."
adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.
    "You tiresome man!" cried Indolentio's wife,
    "You've grown indifferent to all in life."
    "Indifferent?" he drawled with a slow smile;
    "I would be, dear, but it is not worth while."
                                                Apuleius M. Gokul
n. A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind. As the simple Red Man of the western wild put it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force: "Plenty well, no pray; big bellyache, heap God."
n. The guilt of woman.
adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests.
n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, "Heaven lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
n. (Latin.) Among the Greeks and Romans, sacrifices for propitation of the Dii Manes, or souls of the dead heroes; for the pious ancients could not invent enough gods to satisfy their spiritual needs, and had to have a number of makeshift deities, or, as a sailor might say, jury-gods, which they made out of the most unpromising materials. It was while sacrificing a bullock to the spirit of Agamemnon that Laiaides, a priest of Aulis, was favored with an audience of that illustrious warrior's shade, who prophetically recounted to him the birth of Christ and the triumph of Christianity, giving him also a rapid but tolerably complete review of events down to the reign of Saint Louis. The narrative ended abruptly at the point, owing to the inconsiderate crowing of a cock, which compelled the ghosted King of Men to scamper back to Hades. There is a fine mediæval flavor to this story, and as it has not been traced back further than Père Brateille, a pious but obscure writer at the court of Saint Louis, we shall probably not err on the side of presumption in considering it apocryphal, though Monsignor Capel's judgment of the matter might be different; and to that I bow — wow.
n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does. (See GIAOUR.) A kind of scoundrel imperfectly reverent of, and niggardly contributory to, divines, ecclesiastics, popes, parsons, canons, monks, mollahs, voodoos, presbyters, hierophants, prelates, obeah-men, abbés, nuns, missionaries, exhorters, deacons, friars, hadjis, high-priests, muezzins, brahmins, medicine-men, confessors, eminences, elders, primates, prebendaries, pilgrims, prophets, imaums, beneficiaries, clerks, vicars-choral, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, preachers, padres, abbotesses, caloyers, palmers, curates, patriarchs, bonezs, santons, beadsmen, canonesses, residentiaries, diocesans, deans, subdeans, rural deans, abdals, charm-sellers, archdeacons, hierarchs, class-leaders, incumbents, capitulars, sheiks, talapoins, postulants, scribes, gooroos, precentors, beadles, fakeers, sextons, reverences, revivalists, cenobites, perpetual curates, chaplains, mudjoes, readers, novices, vicars, pastors, rabbis, ulemas, lamas, sacristans, vergers, dervises, lectors, church wardens, cardinals, prioresses, suffragans, acolytes, rectors, cures, sophis, mutifs and pumpums.
n. In politics, a visionary quo given in exchange for a substantial quid.
n. One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have sinned unless he had a mind to — in opposition to the Supralapsarians, who hold that that luckless person's fall was decreed from the beginning. Infralapsarians are sometimes called Sublapsarians without material effect upon the importance and lucidity of their views about Adam.
    Two theologues once, as they wended their way
    To chapel, engaged in colloquial fray —
    An earnest logomachy, bitter as gall,
    Concerning poor Adam and what made him fall.
    "'Twas Predestination," cried one — "for the Lord
    Decreed he should fall of his own accord."
    "Not so — 'twas Free will," the other maintained,
    "Which led him to choose what the Lord had ordained."
    So fierce and so fiery grew the debate
    That nothing but bloodshed their dudgeon could sate;
    So off flew their cassocks and caps to the ground
    And, moved by the spirit, their hands went round.
    Ere either had proved his theology right
    By winning, or even beginning, the fight,
    A gray old professor of Latin came by,
    A staff in his hand and a scowl in his eye,
    And learning the cause of their quarrel (for still
    As they clumsily sparred they disputed with skill
    Of foreordinational freedom of will)
    Cried: "Sirrahs! this reasonless warfare compose:
    Atwixt ye's no difference worthy of blows.
    The sects ye belong to — I'm ready to swear
    Ye wrongly interpret the names that they bear.
    You — Infralapsarian son of a clown! —
    Should only contend that Adam slipped down;
    While you — you Supralapsarian pup! —
    Should nothing aver but that Adam slipped up.
    It's all the same whether up or down
    You slip on a peel of banana brown.
    Even Adam analyzed not his blunder,
    But thought he had slipped on a peal of thunder!
n. One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise an object of charity.
    "All men are ingrates," sneered the cynic. "Nay,"
        The good philanthropist replied;
    "I did great service to a man one day
    Who never since has cursed me to repay,
                Nor vilified."

    "Ho!" cried the cynic, "lead me to him straight —
        With veneration I am overcome,
    And fain would have his blessing." "Sad your fate —
    He cannot bless you, for AI grieve to state
                This man is dumb."
                                                       Ariel Selp
n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.
n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the back.
n. A villainous compound of tanno-gallate of iron, gum-arabic and water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal quality of the material. There are men called journalists who have established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid to get in pays twice as much to get out.
adj. Natural, inherent — as innate ideas, that is to say, ideas that we are born with, having had them previously imparted to us. The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible to disproof, though Locke foolishly supposed himself to have given it "a black eye." Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in one's ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one's diseases.
n. The stomach, heart, soul and other bowels. Many eminent investigators do not class the soul as an in'ard, but that acute observer and renowned authority, Dr. Gunsaulus, is persuaded that the mysterious organ known as the spleen is nothing less than our important part. To the contrary, Professor Garrett P. Servis holds that man's soul is that prolongation of his spinal marrow which forms the pith of his no tail; and for demonstration of his faith points confidently to the fact that no tailed animals have no souls. Concerning these two theories, it is best to suspend judgment by believing both.
n. Something written on another thing. Inscriptions are of many kinds, but mostly memorial, intended to commemorate the fame of some illustrious person and hand down to distant ages the record of his services and virtues. To this class of inscriptions belongs the name of John Smith, penciled on the Washington monument. Following are examples of memorial inscriptions on tombstones: (See EPITAPH.)
    "In the sky my soul is found,
    And my body in the ground.
    By and by my body'll rise
    To my spirit in the skies,
    Soaring up to Heaven's gate.

    "Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862,
aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds. Indigenous."

        "Affliction sore long time she boar,
            Phisicians was in vain,
        Till Deth released the dear deceased
            And left her a remain.
    Gone to join Ananias in the regions of bliss."

           "The clay that rests beneath this stone
        As Silas Wood was widely known.
        Now, lying here, I ask what good
        It was to let me be S. Wood.
        O Man, let not ambition trouble you,
        Is the advice of Silas W."

    "Richard Haymon, of Heaven. Fell to Earth Jan. 20, 1807, and
had the dust brushed off him Oct. 3, 1874."
    "See," cries the chorus of admiring preachers,
    "How Providence provides for all His creatures!"
    "His care," the gnat said, "even the insects follows:
    For us He has provided wrens and swallows."
                                                    Sempen Railey
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.
    INSURANCE AGENT: My dear sir, that is a fine house — pray let
        me insure it.
    HOUSE OWNER: With pleasure. Please make the annual premium so
        low that by the time when, according to the tables of your
        actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have
        paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
    INSURANCE AGENT: O dear, no — we could not afford to do that.
        We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
    HOUSE OWNER: How, then, can I afford that?
    INSURANCE AGENT:  Why, your house may burn down at any time.
        There was Smith's house, for example, which —
    HOUSE OWNER: Spare me — there were Brown's house, on the
        contrary, and Jones's house, and Robinson's house, which —
    INSURANCE AGENT: Spare me!
    HOUSE OWNER: Let us understand each other. You want me to pay
        you money on the supposition that something will occur
        previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence.
        In other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not
        last so long as you say that it will probably last.
    INSURANCE AGENT: But if your house burns without insurance it
        will be a total loss.
    HOUSE OWNER: Beg your pardon — by your own actuary's tables I
        shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I
        would otherwise have paid to you — amounting to more than
        the face of the policy they would have bought. But suppose
        it to burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your
        figures are based. If I could not afford that, how could
        you if it were insured?
    INSURANCE AGENT: O, we should make ourselves whole from our
        luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay
        your loss.
    HOUSE OWNER: And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their
        losses? Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn
        before they have paid you as much as you must pay them?
        The case stands this way: you expect to take more money 
        from your clients than you pay to them, do you not?
    INSURANCE AGENT: Certainly; if we did not —
    HOUSE OWNER: I would not trust you with my money. Very well
        then. If it is certain, with reference to the whole body of
        your clients, that they lose money on you it is probable,
        with reference to any one of them, that he will. It is
        these individual probabilities that make the aggregate
    INSURANCE AGENT: I will not deny it — but look at the figures
        in this pamph —
    HOUSE OWNER: Heaven forbid!
    INSURANCE AGENT: You spoke of saving the premiums which you
        would otherwise pay to me. Will you not be more likely 
        to squander them? We offer you an incentive to thrift.
    HOUSE OWNER: The willingness of A to take care of B's money is
        not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution
        you command esteem. Deign to accept its expression from a
        Deserving Object.
n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government.
n. The mind's sense of the prevalence of one set of influences over another set; an effect whose cause is the imminence, immediate or remote, of the performance of an involuntary act.
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.
n. The period during which a monarchical country is governed by a warm spot on the cushion of the throne. The experiment of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm again.
n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for their mutual destruction.
    Two Seidlitz powders, one in blue
    And one in white, together drew
    And having each a pleasant sense
    Of t'other powder's excellence,
    Forsook their jackets for the snug
    Enjoyment of a common mug.
    So close their intimacy grew
    One paper would have held the two.
    To confidences straight they fell,
    Less anxious each to hear than tell;
    Then each remorsefully confessed
    To all the virtues he possessed,
    Acknowledging he had them in
    So high degree it was a sin.
    The more they said, the more they felt
    Their spirits with emotion melt,
    Till tears of sentiment expressed
    Their feelings.  Then they effervesced!
    So Nature executes her feats
    Of wrath on friends and sympathetes
    The good old rule who don't apply,
    That you are you and I am I.
n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. The introduction attains its most malevolent development in this century, being, indeed, closely related to our political system. Every American being the equal of every other American, it follows that everybody has the right to know everybody else, which implies the right to introduce without request or permission. The Declaration of Independence should have read thus:
        "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
    created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
    certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the
    right to make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him
    an incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly
    the liberty to introduce persons to one another without first
    ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and
    the pursuit of another's happiness with a running pack of
n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.



<<<   D-E-F   |   Index   |   J-K-L   >>>

HTML eBook Copyright © 1999-2003 All rights reserved.