AMBROSIA, n. A banquet of Ambrose Bierce

Tomorrow being the birthday (June 24, 1842) of DEVIL’S DICTIONARY lexicographer AMBROSE BIERCE, I thought I’d peruse perforce his pernicious perversion of delicious definitions and post a savory sampling of selections for your edification and enjoyment. Seriously.

For those who aren’t familiar with this deviously devilish dictionary, here’s the lowdown:

With that introduction the hell out of the way, what say we delay no further….starting with Bierce’s definition of Introduction, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. [It] attains its most malevolent development in this country being, indeed, closely related to our political system.

Abasement, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power.

Aborigines, n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.

Accomplice, n. One associated with another in a crime, having guilty knowledge and complicity, as an attorney who defends a criminal, knowing him guilty. This view of the attorney’s position in the matter has not hitherto commanded the assent of attorneys, no one having offered them a fee for assenting.

Air, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Provider for the fattening of the poor.

Arena, n. In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman wrestles with his record.

Bait, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.

Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think.

Cannon, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.

Now that you’ve learned the ABCs of it, I commend continuing through the D through Zs of it by virtue of going to The Devil’s Dictionary….preferably by honest means, like online or at your local bookstore. If you dare ask me to procure a copy for you, don’t say “The devil made me do it.” I’m not buying it.