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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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WHEAT, n. A cereal from which a tolerably good whisky can with some difficulty be made, and which is used also for bread. The French are said to eat more bread per capita of population than any other people, which is natural, for only they know how to make the stuff palatable.

WHITE, adj. and n. Black.

WIDOW, n. A pathetic figure that the Christian world has agreed to take humorously, although Christ's tenderness towards widows was one of the most marked features of his character.

WINE, n. Fermented grape-juice known to the Women's Christian Union as "liquor," sometimes as "rum." Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man.

WIT, n. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.

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.

WITTICISM, n. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted, and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a "joke."

WOMAN, n. An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication. It is credited by many of the elder zoologists with a certain vestigial docility acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, deny the virtue and declare that such as creation's dawn beheld, it roareth now. The species is the most widely distributed of all beasts of prey, infesting all habitable parts of the globe, from Greeland's spicy mountains to India's moral strand. The popular name (wolfman) is incorrect, for the creature is of the cat kind. The woman is lithe and graceful in its movement, especially the American variety (Felis pugnans), is omnivorous and can be taught not to talk.

Balthasar Pober

WORMS'-MEAT, n. The finished product of which we are the raw material. The contents of the Taj Mahal, the Tombeau Napoleon and the Granitarium. Worms'-meat is usually outlasted by the structure that houses it, but "this too must pass away." Probably the silliest work in which a human being can engage is construction of a tomb for himself. The solemn purpose cannot dignify, but only accentuates by contrast the foreknown futility.

Ambitious fool! so mad to be a show!
How profitless the labor you bestow
Upon a dwelling whose magnificence
The tenant neither can admire nor know.

Build deep, build high, build massive as you can,
The wanton grass-roots will defeat the plan
By shouldering asunder all the stones
In what to you would be a moment's span.

Time to the dead so all unreckoned flies
That when your marble is all dust, arise,
If wakened, stretch your limbs and yawn –
You'll think you scarcely can have closed your eyes.

What though of all man's works your tomb alone
Should stand till Time himself be overthrown?
Would it advantage you to dwell therein
Forever as a stain upon a stone?

Joel Huck

WORSHIP, n. Homo Creator's testimony to the sound construction and fine finish of Deus Creatus. A popular form of abjection, having an element of pride.

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. Amongst the ancients the wrath of kings was deemed sacred, for it could usually command the agency of some god for its fit manifestation, as could also that of a priest. The Greeks before Troy were so harried by Apollo that they jumped out of the frying-pan of the wrath of Cryses into the fire of the wrath of Achilles, though Agamemnon, the sole offender, was neither fried nor roasted. A similar noted immunity was that of David when he incurred the wrath of Yahveh by numbering his people, seventy thousand of whom paid the penalty with their lives. God is now Love, and a director of the census performs his work without apprehension of disaster.


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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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