Extracts from the Cynic’s Wordbook – Part VII – the letter S

Also see letters P, M, K, C, J and R.

  1. Sabbath – noun An unknown quantity in San Francisco social life.
  2. Sacerdotalist – noun One who holds the belief that a clergyman is a priest.
  3. Sacred – noun Dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine character; as the Dalai Lama of Tibet; the Moogum of M’bwango; the Cow in India; the hair of the dog that bit Noah, etc.
  4. Saint – noun A dead sinner, revised and edited.
  5. Sanity – noun The state of mind that immediately precedes and follows murder.
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Extracts from the Cynic’s Wordbook – Part VI – the letter R

Previous entries: P, M, K, C, J. Notice I have listed double the number of extracts under this letter. This is simply because these are some of the finest in the whole book by Bierce. A little bonus for you to chew and occasionally swallow and digest. Read on:

  1. Recruit – noun A person distinguishable from a civilian by his uniform and a soldier from his gait.
  2. Reform – noun A campaign transparency, which is laid aside as soon as it has served its purpose; a thing that mostly satisfies reformers as opposed to reformation.
  3. Relations  noun, plural People that you call on, or that call on you, according to whether they are rich or poor.
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Extracts from the Cynic’s Wordbook – Part V – the letter J

You have been with me through entries under the letters P, M, K, and C. Today, we shall read through J.

  1. J – is a consonant in English, but some nations use it as a vowel–than which nothing could be more absurd. Its original form, which has been but slightly modified, was that of the tail of a subdued dog, and it was not a letter but a character, standing for a latin verb, jacere, ‘to throw,’ because when a stone is thrown at a dog the dog’s tail assumes that shape. This is the origin of the letter, as expounded by the renowned Dr Jocolpus Bumer, of the University of Belgrade, who established his conclusions on the subject in a work of three quarto volumes and committed suicide on being reminded that the j in the Roman alphabet had originally no curl.
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Extracts from the Cynic’s Wordbook – Part IV – the letter C

Today is the day of the letter C. ’nuff said. Or maybe, ’nuff seen. Whatever that means. We’ve read through P, M and K. Read on.

  1. Cabbage – noun A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.
  2. Calamity – noun A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two types: misfortune to ourselves and good fortune to others.
  3. Capital – noun The seat of misgovernment. That which provides the fire, the pot, the dinner, the table and the knife and fork for the anarchist.
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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.
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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! Continue reading