Extracts from the cynic’s wordbook – Part II – the letter M

~This post is dedicated to my own blog. For being there.~


In my last post I gave you ten of what I thought were the finest ‘Devil’s definitions’ of words in Bierce’s ‘The Devil’s Dictionary.’ Today, I shall outline some more, this time from the letter M. This is arguably the most entertaining of all letters in our English language–at least that which is present in the strange dictionary in question. Read on below:

  1. Madnoun Affected by a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to social standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual.
  2. Malenoun A member of the unconsidered, or negligible, sex. The male of the human race is commonly known (to the female) as Mere Man. The genus has two varieties: good providers and bad providers.
  3. Menoun The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three. // Continue

Extracts from the cynic’s wordbook – Part I – the letter P

~This post is dedicated to my good friend, Raghul Selvam, for failing to dissociate in lofty hours. He is still alive today.~


While Ambroce ‘Bitter’ Bierce himself rather fancied the name ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ to ‘The Cynic’s Wordbook,’ I think the latter is equally good and thus decided to title this post as you now see it! One of the prized collections in my small home-library is an inconspicuous and unassuming little book that hardly catches anyone’s eye, titled–you guessed it–The Devil’s Dictionary. Bierce is perhaps the greatest figure in English satire I have come across and I take some pride in saying Bierce and I were both born on the same day; perhaps that explains the similar tastes!

PWhile many are aware of numerous sources where faux meanings are provided to real words, it is little known that this originated from Bierce’s masterpiece of a satire, The Devil’s Dictionary, a collection of his witty definitions of some of the more common words in the English language that he published over a huge period of time, from 1881 to 1906, in a certain weekly. There have been many–pardon me for saying lower standard–spin-offs of this and they surprisingly continue to this day. And while I have come across few who have actually read this work, I know many who haven’t; and it is for them that I have put down here the ten best definitions from Bierce’s book. In follow-up posts, I shall list some more. This one I have used to cover the letter P. // Continue