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Devil's Dictionary: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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BAAL, n. An old deity formerly much worshiped under various names. As Baal he was popular with the Phoenicians; as Belus or Bel he had the honor to be served by the priest Berosus, who wrote the famous account of the Deluge; as Babel he had a tower partly erected to his glory on the Plain of Shinar. From Babel comes our English word "babble." Under whatever name worshiped, Baal is the Sun-god. As Beelzebub he is the god of flies, which are begotten of the sun's rays on the stagnant water. In Physicia Baal is still worshiped as Bolus, and as Belly he is adored and served with abundant sacrifice by the priests of Guttledom.

BABE or BABY, n. A misshapen creature of no particular age, sex, or condition, chiefly remarkable for the violence of the sympathies and antipathies it excites in others, itself without sentiment or emotion. There have been famous babes; for example, little Moses, from whose adventure in the bulrushes the Egyptian hierophants of seven centuries before doubtless derived their idle tale of the child Osiris being preserved on a floating lotus leaf.

Ere babes were invented
The girls were contended.
Now man is tormented
Until to buy babes he has squandered
His money. And so I have pondered
This thing, and thought may be
'T were better that Baby
The First had been eagled or condored.

Ro Amil

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

Is public worship, then, a sin,
That for devotions paid to Bacchus
The lictors dare to run us in,
And resolutely thump and whack us?

Jorace

BACK, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.

BACKBITE, v. t. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.

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

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

But whether the plan of immersion
Is better than simple aspersion
Let those immersed
And those aspersed
Decide by the Authorized Version,
And by matching their agues tertian.

G. J.

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

BARRACK, n. A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of which it is their business to deprive others.

BASILISK, n. The cockatrice. A sort of serpent hatched form the egg of a cock. The basilisk had a bad eye, and its glance was fatal. Many infidels deny this creature's existence, but Semprello Aurator saw and handled one that had been blinded by lightning as a punishment for having fatally gazed on a lady of rank whom Jupiter loved. Juno afterward restored the reptile's sight and hid it in a cave. Nothing is so well attested by the ancients as the existence of the basilisk, but the cocks have stopped laying.

BASTINADO, n. The act of walking on wood without exertion.

BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.

The man who taketh a steam bath
He loseth all the skin he hath,
And, for he's boiled a brilliant red,
Thinketh to cleanliness he's wed,
Forgetting that his lungs he's soiling
With dirty vapors of the boiling.

Richard Gwow

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

BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.

BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.

BEFRIEND, v. t. To make an ingrate.


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The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, online at Fun-With-Words.com.

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There are two versions of this book available. First, there is The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, as originally published in 1911. This is identical to the online version on the Fun-With-Words.com website, with almost 1,000 entries.

The second, which we recommend highly, is The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, which has about 1,600 citations.

The Devil's Dictionary The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary
Same as 1911 edition
Approx. 1,000 Citations
Extra material: 1,600 Citations
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