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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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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.

Desirous to avoid the pains of Hell,
You will repent and join the Church, Parnell?
How needless! – Nick will keep you off the coals
And add you to the woes of other souls.

Jomater Abemy

REPLICA, n. A reproduction of a work of art, by the artist that made the original. It is so called to distinguish it from a "copy," which is made by another artist. When the two are made with equal skill the replica is the more valuable, for it is supposed to be more beautiful than it looks.

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

"More dear than all my bosom knows, O thou
Whose 'lips are sealed' and will not disavow!"
So sang the blithe reporter-man as grew
Beneath his hand the leg-long "interview."

Barson Maith

REPOSE, v. i. To cease from troubling.

REPRESENTATIVE, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.

REPROBATION, n. In theology, the state of a luckless mortal prenatally damned. The doctrine of reprobation was taught by Calvin, whose joy in it was somewhat marred by the sad sincerity of his conviction that although some are foredoomed to perdition, others are predestined to salvation.

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

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

RESIDENT, adj. Unable to leave.

RESIGN, v. t. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.

'Twas rumored Leonard Wood had signed
A true renunciation
Of title, rank and every kind
Of military station –
Each honorable station.

By his example fired – inclined
To noble emulation,
The country humbly was resigned
To Leonard's resignation –
His Christian resignation.

Politian Greame

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

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

RESPIRATOR, n. An apparatus fitted over the nose and mouth of an inhabitant of London, whereby to filter the visible universe in its passage to the lungs.

RESPITE, n. A suspension of hostilities against a sentenced assassin, to enable the Executive to determine whether the murder may not have been done by the prosecuting attorney. Any break in the continuity of a disagreeable expectation.

Altgeld upon his incandescent bed
Lay, an attendant demon at his head.

"O cruel cook, pray grant me some relief –
Some respite from the roast, however brief."

"Remember how on earth I pardoned all
Your friends in Illinois when held in thrall."

"Unhappy soul! for that alone you squirm
O'er fire unquenched, a never-dying worm.

"Yet, for I pity your uneasy state,
Your doom I'll mollify and pains abate.

"Naught, for a season, shall your comfort mar,
Not even the memory of who you are."

Throughout eternal space dread silence fell;
Heaven trembled as Compassion entered Hell.

"As long, sweet demon, let my respite be
As, governing down here, I'd respite thee."

"As long, poor soul, as any of the pack
You thrust from jail consumed in getting back."

A genial chill affected Altgeld's hide
While they were turning him on t'other side.

Joel Spate Woop


RESPLENDENT, adj. Like a simple American citizen beduking himself in his lodge, or affirming his consequence in the Scheme of Things as an elemental unit of a parade.
The Knights of Dominion were so resplendent in their velvet-and-gold that their masters would hardly have known them.
"Chronicles of the Classes"

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

RESPONSIBILITY, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.

Alas, things ain't what we should see
If Eve had let that apple be;
And many a feller which had ought
To set with monarchses of thought,
Or play some rosy little game
With battle-chaps on fields of fame,
Is downed by his unlucky star
And hollers: "Peanuts! – here you are!"

"The Sturdy Beggar"

RESTITUTIONS, n. The founding or endowing of universities and public libraries by gift or bequest.

RESTITUTOR, n. Benefactor; philanthropist.

RETALIATION, n. The natural rock upon which is reared the Temple of Law.


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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.

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