Ambrose Bierce

Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.

EXHORT, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.

FLOP, v. Suddenly to change one's opinions and go over to another party. The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our partisan journals.

FORCE, n."Force is but might," the teacher said --"That definition's just."The boy said naught but through instead,Remembering his pounded head:"Force is not might but must!"

GORGON, n.The Gorgon was a maiden boldWho turned to stone the Greeks of oldThat looked upon her awful brow.We dig them out of ruins now,And swear that workmanship so badProves all the ancient sculptors mad.

GRAPE, n.Hail noble fruit! -- by Homer sung,Anacreon and Khayyam;Thy praise is ever on the tongueOf 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 cranksWho load their skins with liquor --I'll gladly bear their belly-tanksAnd tap them with my sticker.Fill up, fill up, for wisdom coolsWhen e'er we let the wine rest.Here's death to Prohibition's fools,And every kind of vine-pest!Jamrach Holobom

HABEAS CORPUS. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime.

HEAT, n.Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a modeOf motion, but I know now how he's provingHis point; but this I know -- hot words bestowedWith 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

MAMMALIA, A family of vertebrate animals whose females in a state of nature suckle their young, but when civilized and enlightened put them out to nurse, or use the bottle.

PLUNDER, v. To take the property of another without observing the decent and customary reticences of theft. To effect a change of ownership with the candid concomitance of a brass band. To wrest the wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanishing opportunity.

ME, pro. The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three.

PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

REASON, v.i. To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.

RECONSIDER, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made.

WEAKNESSES, Certain primal powers of Tyrant Woman wherewith she holds dominion over the male of her species, binding him to the service of her will and paralyzing his rebellious energies.

ADORE, v.t. To venerate expectantly.

ZIGZAG, v.t. To move forward uncertainly, from side to side, as one carrying the white man's burden. (From _zed_, _z_, and _jag_, an Icelandic word of unknown meaning.)He zedjagged so uncomen wydeThet non coude pas on eyder syde;So, to com saufly thruh, I beenConstreynet for to doodge betwene.Munwele

ALLEGIANCE, n.This thing Allegiance, as I suppose,Is a ring fitted in the subject's nose,Whereby that organ is kept rightly pointedTo smell the sweetness of the Lord's anointed. G.J.

DANCE, v.i. To leap about to the sound of tittering music, preferably with arms about your neighbor's wife or daughter. There are many kinds of dances, but all those requiring the participation of the two sexes have two characteristics in common: they are conspicuously innocent, and warmly loved by the vicious.

DANGER, n.A savage beast which, when it sleeps,Man girds at and despises,But takes himself away by leapsAnd bounds when it arises.Ambat Delaso

Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

DISABUSE, v.t. The present your neighbor with another and better error than the one which he has deemed it advantageous to embrace.

IMMORTALITY, n.A toy which people cry for,And on their knees apply for,Dispute, contend and lie for,And if allowedWould be right proudEternally to die for.G.J.

IMPOSTOR n. A rival aspirant to public honors.

ENOUGH, pro. All there is in the world if you like it.Enough is as good as a feast -- for that matterEnougher's as good as a feast for the platter.Arbely C. Strunk

INSECTIVORA, n."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

OPPOSE, v. To assist with obstructions and objections.How lonely he who thinks to vexWith bandinage the Solemn Sex!Of levity, Mere Man, beware;None but the Grave deserve the Unfair.Percy P. Orminder

ONCE, adv. Enough.

KEEP, v.t.He willed away his whole estate,And then in death he fell asleep,Murmuring: "Well, at any rate,My name unblemished I shall keep."But when upon the tomb 'twas wroughtWhose was it? -- for the dead keep naught.Durang Gophel Arn

OTHERWISE, adv. No better.

OVEREAT, v. To dine.Hail, Gastronome, Apostle of Excess,Well skilled to overeat without distress!Thy great invention, the unfatal feast,Shows Man's superiority to Beast.John Boop

REPOSE, v.i. To cease from troubling.

LAW, n.Once Law was sitting on the bench,And Mercy knelt a-weeping."Clear out!" he cried, "disordered wench!Nor come before me creeping.Upon your knees if you appear,'Tis plain your have no standing here."Then Justice came. His Honor cried:"_Your_ status? -- devil seize you!""_Amica curiae,_" she replied --"Friend of the court, so please you.""Begone!" he shouted -- "there's the door --I never saw your face before!"G.J.

APOLOGIZE, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offence.

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

BEFRIEND, v.t. To make an ingrate.

Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.

Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.

Admiration, n.: Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.

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

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

PLAN, v.t. To bother about the best method of accomplishing an accidental result.

PLAGIARIZE, v. To take the thought or style of another writer whom one has never, never read.

Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.)

To be positive: To be mistaken at the top of one's voice.

Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.

CONDOLE, v.i. To show that bereavement is a smaller evil than sympathy.

CONSULT, v.i. To seek another's approval of a course of action already decided on.

In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.

HASH, x. There is no definition for this word -- nobody knows what hash is.

PLEASE, v. To lay the foundation for a superstructure of imposition.

HERS, pron. His.

PORTUGUESE, A species of geese indigenous to Portugal. They are mostly without feathers and imperfectly edible, even when stuffed with garlic.

PRESIDE, v. To guide the action of a deliberative body to a desirable result. In Journalese, to perform upon a musical instrument; as, "He presided at the piccolo."The Headliner, holding the copy in hand,Read with a solemn face:"The music was very uncommonly grand --The best that was every provided,For our townsman Brown presidedAt the organ with skill and grace."The Headliner discontinued to read,And, spread the paper downOn the desk, he dashed in at the top of the screed:"Great playing by President Brown."Orpheus Bowen

TALK, v.t. To commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an impulse without purpose.

TAKE, v.t. To acquire, frequently by force but preferably by stealth.

TWICE, adv. Once too often.

REALLY, adv. Apparently.

ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. --Oliver Cromwell

ABSCOND, v.i. To "move in a mysterious way," commonly with the property of another. Spring beckons! All things to the call respond;The trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.Phela Orm

RECOLLECT, v. To recall with additions something not previously known.

VIRTUES, Certain abstentions.

ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.

ACKNOWLEDGE, v.t. To confess. Acknowledgement of one another's faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.

ACTUALLY, adv. Perhaps; possibly.

Marriage: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

AFFIANCED, pp. Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain.

War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.

CUI BONO? [Latin] What good would that do _me_?

DEAD, adj.Done with the work of breathing; doneWith all the world; the mad race runThough to the end; the golden goalAttained and found to be a hole!Squatol Johnes

DISCRIMINATE, v.i. To note the particulars in which one person or thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another.

DISOBEY, v.t. To celebrate with an appropriate ceremony the maturity of a command.His right to govern me is clear as day,My duty manifest to disobey;And if that fit observance e'er I shutMay I and duty be alike undone.Israfel Brown

DISSEMBLE, v.i. To put a clean shirt upon the character.Let us dissemble.Adam

EAVESDROP, v.i. Secretly to overhear a catalogue of the crimes and vices of another or yourself.A lady with one of her ears appliedTo an open keyhole heard, inside,Two female gossips in converse free --The subject engaging them was she."I think," said one, "and my husband thinksThat she's a prying, inquisitive minx!"As soon as no more of it she could hearThe lady, indignant, removed her ear."I will not stay," she said, with a pout,"To hear my character lied about!"Gopete Sherany

NOMINATE, v. To designate for the heaviest political assessment. To put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting of the opposition.

KILL, v.t. To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.

REFORM, v. A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation.

OWE, v. To have (and to hold) a debt. The word formerly signified not indebtedness, but possession; it meant "own," and in the minds of debtors there is still a good deal of confusion between assets and liabilities.

PARDON, v. To remit a penalty and restore to the life of crime. To add to the lure of crime the temptation of ingratitude.

RESIGN, v.t. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.'Twas rumored Leonard Wood had signedA true renunciationOf title, rank and every kindOf military station --Each honorable station.By his example fired -- inclinedTo noble emulation,The country humbly was resignedTo Leonard's resignation --His Christian resignation.Politian Greame

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.

ANOINT, v.t. To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.As sovereigns are anointed by the priesthood,So pigs to lead the populace are greased good.Judibras

REVIEW, v.t.To set your wisdom (holding not a doubt of it,Although in truth there's neither bone nor skin to it)At work upon a book, and so read out of itThe qualities that you have first read into it.

ARRAYED, pp. Drawn up and given an orderly disposition, as a rioter hanged to a lamppost.

ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.

ARREST, v.t. Formally to detain one accused of unusualness.God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh._The Unauthorized Version_

R.I.P. A careless abbreviation of _requiescat in pace_, attesting to indolent goodwill to the dead. According to the learned Dr. Drigge, however, the letters originally meant nothing more than _reductus in pulvis_.

EAT, v.i. To perform successively (and successfully) the functions of mastication, humectation, and deglutition."I was in the drawing-room, enjoying my dinner," said Brillat- Savarin, beginning an anecdote. "What!" interrupted Rochebriant; "eating dinner in a drawing-room?" "I must beg you to observe, monsieur," explained the great gastronome, "that I did not say I was eating my dinner, but enjoying it. I had dined an hour before."

EXISTENCE, n.A transient, horrible, fantastic dream,Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem:From which we're wakened by a friendly nudgeOf our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!"

EXCOMMUNICATION, n.This "excommunication" is a wordIn speech ecclesiastical oft heard,And means the damning, with bell, book and candle,Some sinner whose opinions are a scandal --A rite permitting Satan to enslave himForever, and forbidding Christ to save him.Gat Huckle

CURSE, v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance.

RICHES, n.A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."John D. RockefellerThe reward of toil and virtue.J.P. MorganThe sayings of many in the hands of one.Eugene DebsTo these excellent definitions the inspired lexicographer feels that he can add nothing of value.

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 myselfs 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.

T, the twentieth letter of the English alphabet, was by the Greeks absurdly called _tau_. In the alphabet whence ours comes it had the form of the rude corkscrew of the period, and when it stood alone (which was more than the Phoenicians could always do) signified _Tallegal_, translated by the learned Dr. Brownrigg, "tanglefoot."

FORMA PAUPERIS. [Latin] In the character of a poor person -- a method by which a litigant without money for lawyers is considerately permitted to lose his case.When Adam long ago in Cupid's awful court(For Cupid ruled ere Adam was invented)Sued for Eve's favor, says an ancient law report,He stood and pleaded unhabilimented."You sue _in forma pauperis_, I see," Eve cried;"Actions can't here be that way prosecuted."So all poor Adam's motions coldly were denied:He went away -- as he had come -- nonsuited.G.J.

DAMN, v. A word formerly much used by the Paphlagonians, the meaning of which is lost. By the learned Dr. Dolabelly Gak it is believed to have been a term of satisfaction, implying the highest possible degree of mental tranquillity. Professor Groke, on the contrary, thinks it expressed an emotion of tumultuous delight, because it so frequently occurs in combination with the word _jod_ or _god_, meaning "joy." It would be with great diffidence that I should advance an opinion conflicting with that of either of these formidable authorities.

OUTDO, v.t. To make an enemy.

KNIGHT, n.Once a warrior gentle of birth,Then a person of civic worth,Now a fellow to move our mirth.Warrior, person, and fellow -- no more:We must knight our dogs to get any lower.Brave Knights Kennelers then shall be,Noble Knights of the Golden Flea,Knights of the Order of St. Steboy,Knights of St. Gorge and Sir Knights Jawy.God speed the day when this knighting fadShall go to the dogs and the dogs go mad.

GREAT, adj."I'm great," the Lion said -- "I reignThe monarch of the wood and plain!"The Elephant replied: "I'm great --No quadruped can match my weight!""I'm great -- no animal has halfSo long a neck!" said the Giraffe."I'm great," the Kangaroo said -- "seeMy femoral muscularity!"The 'Possum said: "I'm great -- behold,My tail is lithe and bald and cold!"An Oyster fried was understoodTo say: "I'm great because I'm good!"Each reckons greatness to consistIn that in which he heads the list,And Vierick thinks he tops his classBecause he is the greatest ass.Arion Spurl Doke