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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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GLUTTON, n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia.

GNOME, 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.

GNOSTICS, 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.

GNU, 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

GOOD, adj. Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer. Alive, sir, to the advantages of letting him alone.

GOOSE, 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.

GORGON, n.

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.

GOUT, n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.

GRACES, 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.

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

GRAPE, n.

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

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

GRAVE, 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 Dunko

GRAVITATION, 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.


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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
With additional annotation
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