Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

We're now going to apply what we've learned about satire by studying "A Modest Proposal" to another satirical literary work: The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce.

What is it? Go here to find out.

Where's the text? Go here to get it.

What I'd like you to do before class time on Monday (9/23) is pick five (5)* word entries from Bierce's satirical dictionary that no one else has commented on yet. In the comment box copy a dictionary definition and copy Bierce's satirical definition. Then explain how Bierce satirizes a particular target by deviating from the standard definition.

Try to figure out Bierce's target and how he uses particular strategies to satirize that target. Does Bierce use any of the satirical strategies we've discussed, including irony, satirical inversion (or reversal), understatement (meiosis, litotes), exaggeration (hyperbole), sarcasm, absurd incongruity, and asserting a position by pretending not sweep aside that position (apophasis/paralipsis)?

Explaining satire (like explaining a joke) is difficult, so I'd rather you risk explaining too much than risk not explaining enough.


  1. JUSTICE: The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law.
    JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.
    -The satire of the 2nd definition is aimed at the lack of rights in a rightful and free oriented country. The true meaning reflects that justice is use of fair treatment yet in the States a person is rewarded this fake sense of fairness that he/she never truly has by giving up money, loyalty, and their lives. Basically the satire definition proves that there is no justice and we, as the people have nothing. The satirical events between the two definitions are understated as Bierce’s definition tells the reader that there basically is no freedom or fairness within life which is an opposed understatement of reality. There is fairness and to state the lack of takes a satirical stab at the Justice department to say that even in a world that is supposedly fair there seems to be nothing. It goes against the original definition as it is inversed along with the understatement that all justice is unfair when it isn’t.
    CABBAGE: A cultivated plant eaten as a vegetable, having thick green or purple leaves surrounding a spherical heart or head of young leaves.
    CABBAGE, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.
    -The satirical point of view varying in between these two definitions is implicated by Bierce’s attack on humanity. Bierce attacks humanity with a witty satirical definition by comparing a man to a green leafy vegetable and saying they are equally smart when in reality they are not. It is an overstatement and exaggeration to what the leafy vegetable actually can do and comparing it to mankind’s own level of education makes it obviously false. In general by using a basic exaggeration of comparing our mental capability to a cabbage Bierce brings out a satirical value to the argument that we, as humans, may not be as wise as we think and are actually full of ourselves as stated by the fact that cabbages can be rather big.
    WITCH: A woman claiming or popularly believed to possess magical powers and practice sorcery.
    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.
    -Bierce’s definition contrasts itself by saying that women who are witches are either beautiful or ugly worshippers. The actual definition defines a witch as any woman who possesses magic. The irony displayed in Bierce’s definition is that witches can be displayed as contrasting factors in looks. It is also rather ironic that beauty took a place in the level of the witch’s abilities where one ugly old hag is below and where beauty and youth go beyond the devil. Beauty is the key term that works to create an image that beauty in general of a woman could possess a higher power as they are more eye pleasing according to the phrasing of the definition which can emphasize the man of the time’s approval of looks. The definition takes a satirical stab at the fact that beauty has become a term to judge the power and judgment of women across the area. Basically Bierce’s satire of the word witch is saying that in contrast a woman is either the attractive attention holder to go beyond, or that they are followers within with no say as they do not stand out. This assumption is expressed through the ironic value that the definition is basically the same meaning but with different changes to each definition to create a more satirically powerful point on women justice.

    1. (I couldn't fit it on one comment, my apologies)
      AIR: the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen.
      AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
      -To say that “by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor” could most certainly inject a major hyperbole/exaggeration and reversal of intentions. Air is what we use to breather and live, but without further nutrition we become starving. Bierce’s dictionary brings out a huge difference in meanings by, instead of stating the obvious minimum; he says that air is a nutritious substance to get the poor fat when it is in fact the opposite. The definition brought by Bierce is so much an exaggeration that it is taken more with a sarcastic note than the actual definition to imply a further stab at the not so well-being of the lower class. To generalize the satire Bierce is saying that people of lower class are not getting enough nutrition by saying the opposite/reversal of the definition to create a sarcastic tone in which the reader can understand.
      TELEPHONE: An instrument that converts voice and other sound signals into a form that can be transmitted to remote locations and that receives and reconverts waves into sound signals.
      TELEPHONE, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
      -The two varying definitions of telephone are inverses of each other by contradicting themselves. The top definition puts the telephone in a positive voice that describes it as a good way to communicate closer and broaden a person’s social spectrum. Bierce’s definition on the bottom depicts the telephone as a negative item that has broken the social boundaries so much that people are getting too close when they should not be. The bottom definition is using descriptive phrases such as “invention of the devil” to create the negative voice for further emphasis on the idea that the telephone is bad. The inversion creates the satire to be so bluntly in opposition that it is obviously a satire.

  2. 1) Abnormal:
    Devil's Dictionary- adj. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought and conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to be detested. Wherefore the lexicographer adviseth a striving toward the straiter resemblance of the Average Man than he hath to himself. Whoso attaineth thereto shall have peace, the prospect of death and the hope of Hell.

    Web: adj. deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying.

    --Abnormal is defined in the Devil's Dictionary as being independent and others despising you for not following the leader, going with the flow, liking what everyone else likes, not fitting into the status quo. The Web describes abnormal as behaving unusually and worryingly. He uses irony in this, seeing as people do hate the abnormals, the ones who don't wear Abercrombie every day and wear their hair straight. The web definition adds "worry" to the word, which he also uses to his advantage because it's absolutely backward. People seem to not care whatsoever about those different from them.

    2) Fib
    Devil's Dictionary: n. A lie that has not cut its teeth. An habitual liar's nearest approach to truth: the perigee of his eccentric orbit.

    Web: n. a lie, typically an unimportant one.

    --In this, the total opposite is shown. The inversion is that only a liar trying to redeem himself tells a fib- however, everyone tells fibs, saying from the Web definition. He states that everyone is a liar, pretty much, and that this is as close to the truth anyone can ever get.

    1. 3) Idiot
      Devil's Dictionary: n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.

      Web: n. a stupid person.

      --This is absolutely inverted and sarcastic. Saying that everyone follows this stupid person around like they are the President, that people look to and do not question this person's authority, is positively absurd. The common idiot is dense and doesn't have a clue as how to function in society. In this satirical definition, the Dictionary makes out the idiot to be perfect and immortal in decision, proving how stupid the human race really can be.

      Devil's Dictionary: n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease, like caries and many other ailments, is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.

      Web: n. an intense feeling of deep affection; a person or thing that one loves. verb. feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).

      --Clearly, this is a hyperbole of what occurs once someone's heart is broken. The Dictionary is skipping the happy parts to get to the sad ending. "A temporary insanity that can be cured" is what love is to the Devil's Dictionary. Insanity refers to the "rose colored glasses" we all wear when in love; the feeling that all you see is them, you do whatever you can to please them, and you forget everything else and anyone else, because nothing matters more. Learning to balance this is the hyperbole he refers to, the fact that most cannot before they lose it all.

      5) Wall Street
      Devil's Dictionary: n. A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven. Even the great and good Andrew Carnegie has made his profession of faith in the matter.

      Web: n. a street in lower Manhattan where the New York Stock Exchange is located; symbol of American finance

      --Another dig at the American government, this is sarcasm or irony. What everyone knows to be so proud of is inverted to be something evil in nature, which is how most people see the government. The government just took $22 out of my own paycheck, and on it I read that it says it goes to the U.S. Gov't. I support this definition as a new addition to the American workforce; they are thieves.

  3. Defame, v. Damage the good reputation of (someone).
    Bierce: Defame, v.t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.

    In his definition, Bierce has deviated from the standard definition of the word “defame” in order to satirize the common use of the word. He has included both the original definition (although in a more blunt manner) and an inversion. The word “defame” traditionally means “to damage the good reputation of”. Bierce relays this common definition in his first line more bluntly and directly: “To lie about another”. The second line, however, provides a sharp twist - “To tell the truth about another”. Through using a frank delivery - which includes an attention-getting reversal - Bierce has his audience considering the idea that “defaming” someone can mean giving the truth about them. His definition does not satirize any specific groups of people as the word is a vague one, and so his target of satirization is likely simply the common use of the word “defame” and/or peoples’ actions of defaming. People do deceitful things in this imperfect world; when someone “defames” another, maybe they’re actually providing a very accurate perspective of their agenda.

    Truce, n. An agreement between enemies or opponents to stop fighting or arguing for a certain time.
    Bierce: Truce, n. Friendship.

    In his definition, Bierce has given the word “truce” a whole new meaning. The standard definition for the word is “an agreement to stop arguing”. Bierce’s take on the word, “friendship”, is very different. This shocking, obvious difference from the traditional meaning of the word in itself is an attention-getting technique. Having such an unalike and short definition causes the reader to immediately consider what Bierce’s “point” is. The author’s likely target is the common perception of “friendship”. Perhaps a friendship isn’t such a genuine and solid thing, but rather, it lives on only by a long string of inauthentic “truces”. A different target of his satire could instead be focused on the word “truce”: that a traditional truce - an agreement between enemies to stop fighting - is not genuine, but rather a temporary fix shallowly dubbed a “friendship”. By using a direct and simple, new definition for the word “truce”, Bierce has his audience considering these targets of his satire.

    Tzetze fly, n. Large biting flies that inhabit much of mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts.
    Bierce: Tzetze Fly, n. An African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature's most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis).

    Bierce takes the opportunity of defining “Tsetse fly” to ridicule American literature. A Tsetse fly is a human-biting insect prominent in Africa. Bierce begins with the science-based, traditional definition of this insect. Then, cleverly, he compares the fly’s ability to cure insomnia with the similar ability he says American novelists can have. He does this subtly, using mockery towards the end of the sentence. As the fly and his target of satire - existing sleepy American literature - aren’t similar topics, Bierce likely isn’t making any deep connections here; rather, he simply used their association of being “ insomnia remedies” as an opportunity to deliver his satire towards American novelists.

    1. Continued:

      Year, n. The period of 365 days (or 366 days in leap years) starting from the first of January, used for reckoning time in ordinary affairs.
      Bierce: Year, n. A period of three hundred sixty-five disappointments.

      Bierce defines “year” with a cynical attitude. While he incorporates the standard definition by including the “365”, he certainly has a negative attitude, bluntly replacing “days” with “disappointments”. By using this technique in which the reader expects to see “days” but finds a sudden, plain-spoken “disappointments”, Bierce curtly delivers his point. He is essentially satirizing the common positive outlook on the year - a period of time people usually see optimistically, and as full of opportunity - although this is more cynical that truly satirical, as there is not much depth. Through a curt statement, Bierce successfully provides his cynical outlook.

      Vote, n. A formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands or by voice.
      Bierce: Vote, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.

      The standard definition of the word “vote” is very direct and technical: a vote is a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates. Bierce strays from the technical side of the definition by focusing on the connotations of voting in today’s America, incorporating the controversiality of the voting system. The first part of his sentence is not too opinionated - Bierce is calling a vote an “instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power”. However, the second half shows extreme opinionation - “power - to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country” - which comes off so direct as to seem Bierce is basically inflexible regarding his thoughts on the voting system. By using a direct slam following a seemingly unbiased introduction (which itself contributes to the mockery here, poking fun by using a portion of the exact standard definition), Bierce is clearly satirizing the country’s pride in “being voters” and the convoluted political system, as he seems to believe a person’s voting powers either don’t really provide much inclusion or allow for positive change, or that these powers are used irresponsibly.

  4. Imbecility,n: utter foolishness

    Bierce: Imbecility,n: a kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fine affecting censorious critics of this dictionary.

    In this definition, Bierce satirizes the critics of this dictionary, by calling them stupid for their negative critisim of the dictionary. He is being sarcastic by saying that the censorious critics of his dictionary have: "a kind of divine inspiration", in which he is making fun of the so-called intelligence, or lack thereof, of his critics that makes them think they are right in their criticism. Bierce replaces the "foolishness" part of the standard definition of imbecility, with "the censorious critics of this dictionary."

    Indiscretion,n: A lack of good judgement or care in behaviour and especially in speech.

    Bierce: Indiscretion,n: the guilt of a woman.

    A tricky form of aphosasis is used in this definition, where Bierce ridicules the double standard of women versus men. Based on the real definition of indiscretion, it first appears to imply that Bierce is saying that women should be quiet, and stay out of a man's way, while a man can be loud and in charge. At second glance, Bierce is satirizing men who think women should be quiet, and live in the shadow of the men in their lives.

    Ransom,n: money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped.

    Bierce: Ransom,n: the purchase of that which neither belongs to the seller, nor can belong to the buyer. The most unprofitable of investments

    Situations that require ransoms, typically involve paying money in exchange for a person. Based on the time period of this dictionary, Bierce is mocking slave owners. In other words he is saying that they can't own what was never their's, since they own humans, and no one can truly own humans, because humans are free-willing.Having free-will entails that the slaves could escape slavery in whatever ways were available to do so, during this time period.

    Rebel,n:a somebody unconventional: somebody unconventional: somebody who rejects the codes and conventions of society.

    Bierce:Rebel,n: a proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish it.

    By defining a rebel, Bierce is making fun of a rebel, in that rebels are so rebellious, they fail to see what they are rebelling against. The failure to establish a misrule, refers to the fact that rebels can start off by rebelling against a law,and end in rebelling against all laws,without having alternatives to the laws they are rebelling against. In other words rebels can be without a cause.

    Opportunity,n:A good chance for advancement or progress

    Bierce: Opportunity,n: A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.

    Bierce is mocking the optimists in his definition of opportunity. He is telling the optimist that: "Opportunity, is just another possibility for you to get disappointed, and not a chance for advancement or progress like the standard definition says". His definition is very cynical,but its humor comes from the inversion of putting a negative definition, for something positive.

  5. ACHIEVEMENT, n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.
    Achievement: A thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill
    The standard definition of achievement suggests that when you have accomplished a goal you have done so with admirable intent. It is something to be proud of, an end that was finally reached. An achievement is a success. Bierce undermines the sincerity behind achieving a goal by equating the moment that success has been reached to the “death of endeavor”. In other words, he is suggesting that the culmination of hard work destroys the effort in a person and “births” laziness.
    ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
    Academy: 1.) A place of study or training in a special field. 2.) A society or institution of distinguished scholars, artists, or scientists, that aims to promote and maintain standards in its particular field.
    Bierce criticizes modern learning environments in their obsessed consumption of sports and extracurricular activities. Although yes, football and other sports have a large influence on the community, Bierce is attacking the content, or lack of content, that modern institutions are teaching due to this sports-oriented generation.
    BATTLE, n. A method of untying with the teeth of a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
    Battle: A sustained fight between large, organized armed forces
    Bierce’s definition of a battle largely criticizes the inability of the government to solve disputes without involving means of war. He is saying that the government is not able to verbally resolve political issues, instead they must resort to “A sustained fight between large, organized armed forces”.
    CONSOLATION, n. The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate than yourself.
    Consolation: Comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment.
    Both definitions agree that consolation is a comfort after a loss, but Bierce’s definition implies that man receives this comfort through knowledge that someone else is worse off. Humans are selfish creatures who find comfort and security in another man’s pain. We seek justification of our own pain by searching for those who have known greater sorrow.

    DISTRESS, n. A disease incurred by exposure to the prosperity of a friend.
    Distress: Extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain
    Again Bierce hints at human selfishness as being the root of our pain. When people see others succeed to a higher degree than their own this sparks jealousy and pain, anxiety and vanity. Whether said aloud or not, each person sees themselves as more deserving than the next. Bierce refers to this emotion of self-pitying as a disease.

  6. ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves
    web,noun. respect and warm approval.

    -- In Bierce's description of admiration, the meaning is completely changed by irony. He uses the word to mock people who think greatly of themselves. Admiration means for you to have great respect or be in awe of something or someone because they are great at something, usually better than you are. His definition jokes around with the fact that humans tend to be full of themselves,and venerate things that are not worth it or even themselves.

    PHILOSOPHY, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
    web, noun. The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic. discipline.

    --Bierce's description of philosophy is remarkably funny since philosophy can seem that way when it gets very complicated and difficult to understand. He makes fun of our thousand men who call themselves "philosophers" and claim to know the meaning of life. The web definition sums it up very well by saying what philosophers study. Bierce points out that "philosophers" claim to study so much about everything and about so much that it ends up being about nothingness and it doesn't add to anything.

    BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
    web,noun. a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, esp. the sight.

    --Beauty is a pretty word that everyone knows describes the sights of something or of someone. For someone to be beautiful, they have to be pleasant looking; to have beauty. Bierce twists our thoughts by putting beauty's definition as a situation.In a way, what he means is that women who had beauty were often cheaters. He tries to convey that beauty is an weapon for a girl to get what she wants, to "terrify husbands" and to do whatever she pleases. His definition can be seen as comical because his use of 'beauty' can be very true at times but no one is so blunt about it.

    MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
    web, noun. the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.

    --Bierce's definition hints that marriages can be looked at as a condition, meaning it greatly affects the way someone lives. His definition can be confusing because slaves could mean that they themselves became slaves to each other, but the word master can mean that one has the say in the relationship.The time period definitely is at play, and the use of the word mistress is also at confusing because it could mean the woman is a master too, or that she sleeps around, or even that the master has a mistress. His definition is too vague which can have various meanings with different audiences, as the web's definition has a logical feeling to it.

    TRUTHFUL, adj. Dumb and illiterate.
    web, noun. of a person or statement) telling or expressing the truth; honest.

    --Bierce is hinting that honesty is a joke. He makes fun of a truthful person because we live in a world full of liars. He tries to convey that honest people will get nowhere in life, as liars (like politicians) will go far. It is ironic because society teaches you to be the opposite, and still everyone lies. He makes something that is supposed to be good, a very bad thing by inverting its meaning and making it ironic.

  7. Ocean: a very large expanse of sea, in particular, each of the main areas into which the sea is divided geographically.

    OCEAN, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills.

    Bierce is trying to target people in general and those who take things in a more selfish manner, without thinking of consequences like the environment. Here he is stating that we have even taken over the ocean when we don't even have gills ( we don't need it). But it was still "made for us" because a lot of people believe the whole world was in the aspect that we rule over other creatures on the planet- we take more than we give to the planet. Sarcasm and paralipsis is used here, talking about how the oceans are for people, even without gills (the real point the author is trying to make).

    Opiate: a drug with morphine like effects, derived from opium

    OPIATE, n. An unlocked door in the prison of Identity. It leads into the jail yard.

    This is poking at the fact that opiates (like heroin) will have you end up in jail. It is also pointing at how it is a way into prison that will have you thinking for a long time about how yourself. This is playing with sarcasm, the "open door" of prison, which is closed. And will remain closed until a sentence is up.

    1. Continued.
      Orphan: a child whose parents are dead.

      ORPHAN, n. A living person whom death has deprived of the power of filial ingratitude — a privation appealing with a particular eloquence to all that is sympathetic in human nature. When young the orphan is commonly sent to an asylum, where by careful cultivation of its rudimentary sense of locality it is taught to know its place. It is then instructed in the arts of dependence and servitude and eventually turned loose to prey upon the world as a bootblack or scullery maid.

      Here, Bierce's target is more of the system and government. He talks about how an orphan "learns their place". They aren't given a home, etc. It is also making fun of how some of society sees them. They see them as helpless people without any family at all, not really taking into account that they might have one in either friends or a foster home or even gotten adopted. Just because they were left by their biological parents (because of death) or no longer "owned" doesn't mean they are a nuisance or extra space that no one wants. Bierce uses sarcasm in this, as well as an over exaggeration, it is not the end of their potential for these people.

      Ink: a colored fluid used for writing, drawing, printing, or duplicating.

      INK, n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal quality of the material. There are men called journalists who have established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid to get in pays twice as much to get out.

      Here the author is making the connection between how evil ink can be, because it makes words on a page, ruining someone's credibility because the ink states lies, etc. When really it's not the ink's fault at all, it's the person who wrote it in the first place. The satire is used with the irony that the ink is doing the acting on, not the person who actually controls the ink.

      Circus: a traveling company of acrobats, trained animals, and clowns that gives performances, typically in a large tent, in a series of different places.

      CIRCUS, n. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.

      Bierce is trying to illustrate sarcasm and satire here by the personification of the animals and the outrageousness of them watching us, while making fun of how we are at a circus, where the clowns are dressed up and people are supposed to be
      "crazy" and "freakish". The spectators as well go crazy over seeing these animals do their tricks and the freaks, whether the little kids are in amazement or the teenagers are making fun of the lifestyle.

  8. DUEL: n. A formal ceremony preliminary to the reconciliation of two enemies. Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if awkwardly performed the most unexpected and deplorable consequences sometimes ensue. A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel.

    DUEL:a prearranged combat between two persons, fought with deadly weapons according to an accepted code of procedure, especially to settle a private quarrel.

    This is try is pointing out the foolishness and silliness that comes with dueling. instead of figuring out an answer we will try to kill each other. this is funny because he says "A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel."

    ANOINT: v.t. To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.

    ANOINT: to rub or sprinkle on; apply an unguent, ointment, or oily liquid to.

    This is poking fun at traditions, especially ones that don't make any sense in modern culture. It would be foolish to take oil and "grease" up our new president.

    COWARD:n. One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.

    COWARD:a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person.

    This one is just funny, because of the way you think of cowards. Most people would think of a coward as someone who is fearful. But in this definition it is just someone who "thinks with his legs" which means runs away.

    CRITIC: n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.

    CRITIC:a person who judges, evaluates, or criticizes

    This is making fun of the way critics act and think. Critics are always evaluating and judging but no one really cares about what they think, most of the time. there have been movies that make lots of money, but the critics hated it.

    OMEN: n. A sign that something will happen if nothing happens.

    OMEN: anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent.

    This is making fun of superstitions and in this case omens. This is funny because of it's vagueness. "something will happen if nothing happens" is funny because it it is contradicts itself, and doesn't make much sense.

  9. PHILOSOPHY, n. the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc.

    Devil’s Dictionary:
    PHILOSOPHY, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

    With this satire, Bierce targets philosophers. He suggests that philosophy has no route, which mocks philosophy’s usual open-ended questions. It is a series of questions of life and knowledge that Bierce says is a route to nothing. Bierce uses hyperbole to stretch the idea that Philosophers answer questions with more thought provoking, and possibly confusing questions, instead of giving a straight answer. It is somewhat ironic that Bierce’s definition of “philosophy” does not provide the audience with a straight and definite definition. The audience must think about what Bierce is saying when he uses the metaphor of philosophy being a route, which is similar to what an audience studying philosophy would do. Bierce’s definition of “philosophy,” in a way, is philosophical, which adds humor and depth to the satire.

    MAD, adj. having or showing severe mental illness. unable to think in a clear or sensible way

    Devil’s Dictionary:
    MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane. For illustration, this present (and illustrious) lexicographer is no firmer in the faith of his own sanity than is any inmate of any madhouse in the land; yet for aught he knows to the contrary, instead of the lofty occupation that seems to him to be engaging his powers he may really be beating his hands against the window bars of an asylum and declaring himself Noah Webster, to the innocent delight of many thoughtless spectators.

    Bierce starts his definition by stating that someone who is mad has intellectual independence and do not conform to standards. The plays off the actual definition of “mad”, which is someone who is unable to think in a sensible way. This suggests that anyone who does not conform to the standards of thought and speech, would be considered mad by the public. Bierce uses satirical inversion, by suggesting that being mad is good, by stating to be mad is to be intelligently independent. Bierce targets those who are not willing to think outside the box, and those who may call someone mad because they think differently. In the second part of Bierce’s definition, he mentions that the officials that pronounce others mad, are only able to do so because they consider themselves sane. This is ridiculous logic, that Bierce uses to add humor to his satire. He goes on to suggest that he may be considered mad himself, by trying to communicate to thoughtless spectators through his satire. This targets those who do not understand satire by using the imagery created through the description of Bierce in an insane asylum claiming to be someone he is not that others might find amusing.

    1. OPERA n. an extended dramatic composition, in which all parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment, that usually includes arias, choruses, and recitatives, and that sometimes includes ballet.

      Devil’s Dictionary:
      OPERA, n. A play representing life in another world, whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures and no postures but attitudes. All acting is simulation, and the word simulation is from simia, an ape; but in opera the actor takes for his model Simia audibilis (or Pithecanthropos stentor) — the ape that howls.

      Bierce’s definition of “opera” targets opera actors and fans of opera. He exaggerates the fact that actors in operas only sing to tell a story, by saying they do not known how to communicate normally through speech. It is known that the actors can speak, move, and act regularly, but Bierce suggests they can only sing and make gestures to add humor to his definition. By comparing opera actors to howling apes, which is demeaning, Bierce makes a humorous image to further mock the actors.

      IMPUNITY, n. exemption from punishment.

      Devil’s Dictionary:
      IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.

      Bierce uses a simple, short definition for “impunity” that implies those who are wealthy are exempt from punishment. Those who are poor and break the law would not be able to bribe officials, and therefore would have to face punishment. Bierce targets the wealthy would put themselves above the law by avoiding punishment, and the corrupt system that allows them to do so.

      YEAR, n. a period of 365 or 366 days, in the Gregorian calendar, divided into 12 calendar months, now reckoned as beginning Jan. 1 and ending Dec. 31

      Devil’s Dictionary:
      YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

      Bierce seems to take a pessimistic standpoint on life with his definition of “year.” It is implied that Bierce is referring to each day as a disappointment when he mentions there is three hundred and sixty-five disappointments in a year. The audience assumes that Bierce finds each day to be a disappointment for some reason, which makes this definition humorous because of Bierce’s misfortune. He suggests that he is disappointed every day, where in reality he probably has at least one good day. It is exaggerated that life is constantly negative, which adds humor to the satire.

  10. 1. Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
    Dictionary Definition: a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and typically regarded as being in heaven after death.
    -The irony seen here between these two definitions is recognized at once. Bierce is trying to make fun of the fact that once someone is dead people tend to look past the crimes and the wrongs they have done during their life and they tend to idolize them in a way and make them look innocent. He is poking fun at religion saying that once someone, even a sinner, is dead it automatically makes them a better person.

    2. Pardon, v. To remit a penalty and restore to the life of crime. To add to the lure of crime the temptation of ingratitude.
    Dictionary Definition: the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.
    - This definition Bierce is targeting the government with his use of irony. He is using irony to show how ridiculous he thinks the idea of pardoning is, as he says it is only letting the person go back to commit more crimes, helping no one but the criminal.

    3. Passport, n. A document treacherously inflicted upon a citizen going abroad, exposing him as an alien and pointing him out for special reprobation and outrage.
    Dictionary Definition: A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth. Most often, nationality and citizenship are congruent.
    -Here Bierce is using sarcasm and irony to show the exact opposite of the word passport. Usually is you have a passport you are a citizen of a specific country and not an illegal alien. Bierce's definition shows how a passport, or in the case of this satire not having one, proves you that you are not a legal citizen which means you are not going to be treated fairly. In a way Bierce is also trying to say that you should not travel because of the way you will be treated in a different country.

    4. Push, n. One of the two things mainly conducive to success, especially in politics. The other is Pull.
    Dictionary Definition: exert force on (someone or something), typically with one's hand, in order to move them away from oneself or the origin of the force.
    - This definition is particularly funny because of Bierce yet again using irony and satire to make fun of the government. Here he is saying that push is what people involved in politics do, thy push people as a way of gaining more success. This connects with the true definition of push saying that politicians use force as a way of gaining success. The second part of Bierce's definition is also funny because people always think of pull and push together so when he connects that back to politics it makes the irony of the definition clearer.
    5. Ugliness, n. A gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue without humility.
    Dictionary Definition:qualities of appearance that do not give pleasure to the senses
    -This definition shows sarcasm especially at the very beginning of this definition. Ugliness is not usually referred to as a 'gift from the gods' and when Bierce says this he is being sarcastic. In the second part of this definition he is using irony saying that women who are ugly have dignity without looking down on themselves even though one would think that if someone thought that they were ugly that they would have a lower opinion about themselves. That's where Bierce is being ironic, he is giving qualities to ugliness that would not normally be associated with the word.

  11. GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
    Dictionary: an account of the descents of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms.
    “An ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own,” is a form of hyperbole in that it isn’t a detail that is necessary to a normal definition. It also serves as irony because it isn’t what one would expect from the definition of Genealogy. It is also humorous to think back to the very first ancestor you can find, and think him to be uncaring, it just wouldn’t usually occur to you. It also seems like an understatement, there must be more than that to a complete definition. It does not seem complete. It compares the past to the present in that it is silly for the present to care about what the past did not.

    RED-SKIN, n. A North American Indian, whose skin is not red — at least not on the outside.

    Dictionary: American Indian
    This definition is a quite obvious piece of satire. It clearly refers of the United State’s derision for the Native Americans. The Native Americans are not red on the outside but we should know they are on the inside with how many the United States has killed. This definition is funny in a scary sort of way, like we should find out if they are red on the inside. You laugh and cringe at the same time. It is also apophasis, because Bierce tells us what the North American Indian is not, they’r “skin is not red, at least not on the outside.”

    JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.

    Dictionary: Intolerant of Rivalry or unfaithfulness
    Bierce’s definition makes light of jealousy, he makes fun of one who feels it with the word unduly. He also says things that don’t sound like what you think jealousy is because there is no mention of comparison. It is an understatement of the regular definition of jealousy. It makes you smile because you feel that his insight is true.

  12. TRIAL, n. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors. In order to effect this purpose it is necessary to supply a contrast in the person of one who is called the defendant, the prisoner, or the accused. If the contrast is made sufficiently clear this person is made to undergo such an affliction as will give the virtuous gentlemen a comfortable sense of their immunity, added to that of their worth. In our day the accused is usually a human being, or a socialist, but in mediaeval times, animals, fishes, reptiles and insects were brought to trial. A beast that had taken human life, or practiced sorcery, was duly arrested, tried and, if condemned, put to death by the public executioner. Insects ravaging grain fields, orchards or vineyards were cited to appeal by counsel before a civil tribunal, and after testimony, argument and condemnation, if they continued in contumaciam the matter was taken to a high ecclesiastical court, where they were solemnly excommunicated and anathematized. In a street of Toledo, some pigs that had wickedly run between the viceroy's legs, upsetting him, were arrested on a warrant, tried and punished. In Naples an ass was condemned to be burned at the stake, but the sentence appears not to have been executed. D'Addosio relates from the court records many trials of pigs, bulls, horses, cocks, dogs, goats, etc., greatly, it is believed, to the betterment of their conduct and morals. In 1451 a suit was brought against the leeches infesting some ponds about Berne, and the Bishop of Lausanne, instructed by the faculty of Heidelberg University, directed that some of "the aquatic worms" be brought before the local magistracy. This was done and the leeches, both present and absent, were ordered to leave the places that they had infested within three days on pain of incurring "the malediction of God." In the voluminous records of this cause celebre nothing is found to show whether the offenders braved the punishment, or departed forthwith out of that inhospitable jurisdiction.

    Dictionary: the action or process of trying or putting to the proof

    This definition definitely goes in to the category of hyperbole. The story that makes up almost all of the definition is unnecessary. It also states that the judges and jurors are only in it to uphold their good reputation and character whereas we think they are there because they do have the authority to make the decision, creating a sense of irony. Bierce also compares human defendants to the animals that were accused of crimes in the middle- ages and says that socialists are not human, which is sarcasm. All in all Bierce is making fun of the court system, another way to tall it is satire.

  13. DENTIST: n. a prestidigitator who, putting metal in your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.
    DENTIST: n. someone who practices dentistry.

    This definition is a dig at dentists who according to Bierce, steal your money while giving you discomfort. In this definition he mentions no part about how dentists are practicing the medical science of preserving your teeth and gums, only “putting metal in your mouth” This crass definition is his way of giving his opinion of public health care, doing you no good but taking your money.

    WIT: n. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.
    WIT: n. speech or writing showing such perception and expression

    In this definition, Bierce is talking about other American writers. As a satirist he clearly understands wit, and is fond of humor and meaning within writing. His definition of wit is saying that it is a “salt” meaning it would give their writing flavor and depth but they leave it out therefor spoiling their “intellectual cookery”. He is saying that other American writings are dry, boring, and without wit. This definition is a complete reversal of the real definition of wit.

    HAPPINESS: n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another
    HAPPINESS: the quality or state of having good fortune, pleasure, and contentment

    “ The misery of another” is something we as a human society now feel empathy for. (Or at least we are supposed to) We are known to have compassion for the less fortunate and feel sympathetic when others are miserable. This definition is ironic because as humans we sometimes do get pleasure out of other people’s pain and here Bierce is saying that it is an “agreeable sensation” that we get from even thinking about others’ misery.

    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.
    MAMMALIA: n. warm-blooded vertebrates characterized by mammary glands in the female

    This definition is just an insult to humanity itself. We were once all Mammalia; we too nurtured our young in nature and took care of them like other mammals do. As we were “civilized and enlightened” we put them on their own and make them use the bottle. What he’s saying is that we are harsh, we do not nurture out young anymore we expect them to do it in an unnatural way. We have completely cut off our historic mammal roots by changing our DNA, seeing our babies in a different light, making them use the bottle.

    FUNERAL: n. A pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker, and strengthen our grief by an expenditure that deepens our groans and doubles our tears.
    FUNERAL: the ceremonies for a dead person prior to burial or cremation

    What Bierce is saying is true, why do we spend so much money to say goodbye to someone? The person is dead, yet we doll them up, pay thousands of dollars for a funeral only to make ourselves sadder and to produce more tears and prolong the grieving. When did humanity put this ritual into this obsessive, extensive, but totally unnecessary ritual? No one goes against funerals because it is tradition; no one wants to stand up to someone in grieving and say “ Save your money! Save your tears!” because we feel we owe it to the deceased to give them such a grand departure. Maybe if we just said our goodbyes before they died, and treated them that grandly their whole life, we wouldn’t have to deal with funeral ceremonies that make people uncomfortable and sad. Bierce uses this dictionary to instill his ideas about humanity and make his points about our absurdities.

  14. APOLOGIZE, v. To make excuse for or regretful acknowledgment of a fault or offense.
    Bierce: APOLOGIZE, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offence.
    -By defining apology as “to lay the foundation for a future offense” Bierce means that people are more willing to trust others once they apologize because it shows they’ll do it again. Here Bierce is using irony in his definition of apologize because most of the time when someone apologizes they don’t mean it, but do it to make the others happy.

    BORE, n. One that is wearingly dull, repetitive, or tedious.
    Bierce: BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
    -Both definitions are describing a person who often talks about uninteresting topics, however Bierce does it in a way that criticizes the boring person. Bierce defines a bore in a witty way by describing them as not wanted to be listened to. His definition could apply to many types of people, although it’s obvious what he is indicating.

    DENTSIST, n. A person who is trained and licensed to practice dentistry
    Bierce: DENTIST, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.
    -Bierce defines a dentist as a magician whose magic trick is basically taking your money. He uses humor in this by saying that dentists put “metal into your mouth” then “pulls coins out of your pocket.” Instead of dancing around what everyone is thinking, like the dictionary definition, Bierce is straightforward and presents what he really thinks.

    HAPPINESS n. the quality or state of being happy.
    Bierce: HAPPINESS, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
    -Most people’s happiness is from other people’s misery, which is what Bierce is saying, explains how people really feel even if they don’t realize it. People live everyday experiencing the despair of others, and it makes us happy because we realize that we have it better at that moment. However, “the agreeable sensation” is implying that those people that are feeding our happiness are soon going to gain pleasure from someone else’s misery as well.

    RANK, n. An official position or grade
    Bierce: RANK, n. Relative elevation in the scale of human worth.
    -Bierce is applying the word ‘rank’ specifically to human worth, but it could be used to describe many other things. Here he is using honesty, but also insincerity because people are often degraded because their worth, but they could also be higher on a rank of another subject.

  15. last one: LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions.

    The rising People, hot and out of breath,
    Roared around the palace: "Liberty or death!"
    "If death will do," the King said, "let me reign;
    You'll have, I'm sure, no reason to complain."
    —Martha Braymance

    Dictionary:the quality or state of being free

    Here Bierce is being cynical and making fun of people who think that they have liberty. He says it is a figment of the imagination meaning he thinks it is fake. Other than it being fake it makes you think that he appreciates the idea because he says it precious. This makes the definition sarcastic. The poem about liberty or death says if you want liberty you will get death, reiterating that it is pointless. This definition is full of irony.

  16. ARCHITECT- n. One who plans a draft of your house and drafts a plan of your money.
    ARCHITECT- n. A person who designs and guides a plan, project, etc.
    --In Bierce’s definition of the term architect, he makes fun of the fact that in using an architect you must spend a lot of money. In designing a house the architect has full control of the where the budget will be spent and how much of it will be spent. This is why he includes in his definition that that an architect “drafts a plan of your money”. The target of the satire of this term may be aimed at either architects themselves, who know that they have power over the clients money, or at the clients who are fully aware that their money is in the hands of the architect.

    KLEPTOMANIAC- n. A rich thief
    KLEPTOMANIAC- n. A person with a mental illness in which they have a strong desire to steal things
    --In the definition of kleptomaniac, it is explained that these people suffer from a mental illness causing a “desire to steal things”. Bierce pokes fun at this illness by defining them as “rich thieves”. The satire in this definition is that though these kleptomaniacs are notorious thieves, they benefit from this by gaining wealth off of the items they steal. Bierce’s definition uses satirical inversion, for being a kleptomaniac is frowned upon due to the fact that stealing is illegal. However, his definition makes it appear as though it is not too bad at all because they are rich.

    ONCE- adv. Enough
    ONCE- adv. One time only
    --Once is quite literally enough, as the satirical definition of the word states. With this definition, Bierce is stating that one time is all that is needed and there is no need to do anything more than one time. Or better yet, that once is equal to all that is needed, this being the definition of the word enough. In using satirical strategies, Bierce takes the literal meaning of the expression that “once is enough” and translates that into the definition of once is in fact enough. In doing this Bierce is targeting a very literal audience who take everything word for word versus the overall meaning of things.

    REALLY- adv. Apparently
    REALLY- adv. Used to refer to what is true or real; without question or doubt
    --While the true meaning of the word really states that it is without a doubt true, Bierce’s definition states that it means “apparently”. This definition is ironic because apparently means that something appears to be true, slightly contrasting the positivity of the truth that really ensures. One can understand this as satire due to the blatant irony in which the definition and word contradict one another. Bierce’s target is people who use the word really but do not truly know the facts behind what they are “really” saying.

    QUEEN- n. A woman by whom the realm is ruled when there is a king, and through whom it is ruled when there is not.
    QUEEN- n. A female sovereign or monarch
    --The definition provided by Bierce is blatantly making fun of the role a queen plays whether or not a king is involved. It basically states that the queen is always the one in charge even when she has a spouse, this is because the king merely relays the decisions made by his queen. The target of this satire is that a king is not truly in charge when a queen is around because he will always listen to the advice she gives him.

  17. Devils: GOUT, n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
    Webster: a disease that causes painful swelling of the joints especially in the toes

    Using similar techniques to those of modern age satirists, Bierce uses class and occupation as a joking matter. By using physicians and rich people as the subjects of the joke a large audience is able to find this as funny.

    Devils: GEOGRAPHER, n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside of the world and the inside.
    Webster: a specialist in geography

    Bierce understates the abilities of a geographer in a major way, giving them as much geographical knowledge as any average person. The use of this satirical tool is what creates the humor of this definition. I know that geographers have far more knowledge than this, so I chuckle.

    Devils: QUIVER, n. A portable sheath in which the ancient statesman and the aboriginal lawyer carried their lighter arguments.
    Webster: a case for carrying or holding arrows

    Most readers would be able to see the comparison between a lawyer or politician and an archer. Using political figures as a target, Bierce is intending to say that they use far more lethal weapons as their heavier arguments. It’s also able to see the inferred comparison between lawyers and politicians and aborigines.

    Devils: HASH, x. There is no definition for this word — nobody knows what hash is.
    Webster: to chop (as meat and potatoes) into small pieces

    The simple humor of this definition comes from a small truth it provides, how many people can truly give a solid definition of what hash is?

    Devils: OVEREAT, v. To dine.
    Webster: to eat more than is needed or more than is healthy : to eat too much

    The humor is this too comes from some truth, everybody has experienced the feeling of a meal that was too large. Bierce provides for laughter by stating that every meal is actually like that.

  18. Devils Dictionary
    HAPPINESS, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
    Dictionary Definition
    Happiness, n,good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

    This definition is rather humorous because there is some truth to it. When something good happens to someone sometimes the same event causes sadness to another. This definition sates there is no true happiness and that humans enjoy when others are in pain because it makes them feel better about themselves.

    RANSOM, n. The purchase of that which neither belongs to the seller, nor can belong to the buyer. The most unprofitable of investments.
    Dictionary Definition
    Ransom,n, the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnapped person, of captured goods, etc., for a price.

    When paying off a ransom you are paying for the freedom of another, which you cannot own. No matter how much you pay the freedom of the individual will never be yours. It is truly a bad investment economically. It is funny because the definitions are so cold and cruel. Its as if the person writing them has no emotions.

    YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.
    Dictionary Definition
    Year, n, a period of 365 or 366 days, in the Gregorian calendar, divided into 12 calendar months, now reckoned as beginning Jan. 1 and ending Dec. 31

    This definition was definitely not written by an optimistic person. This definition is almost suicidal because it makes life out to be a bunch of disappointments. It adds emotional pain to a straightforward definition

    QUILL, n. An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly wielded by an ass. This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting Presence.
    Dictionary Definition
    Quill, n, a feather, as of a goose, formed into a pen for writing.

    Words hurt, that is the message this definition is trying to get across. It is funny but true how the definition says an ass yields quills. I sense a bit of sarcasm in this passage.

    OBSERVATORY, n. A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses of their predecessors.
    Dictionary Definition
    Observatory, n,a place or building equipped and used for making observations of astronomical, meteorological, or other natural phenomena, especially a place equipped with a powerful telescope for observing the planets and stars.

    This definition is mocking philosophers and early astronomers. It is making fun of how they are being proven wrong and are indeed ignorant compared to scientists today. It is laughing at how stupid people used to be, believing in Greek gods, earth is flat etc.

  19. ZIGZAG
    -a line or course having abrupt alternate right and left turns
    Devils- To move forward uncertainly, from side to side, as one carrying the white man's burden.
    The Devil's definition makes a zigzag seem to be a straight line that is confused. The humor is found because a zigzag line has intentional lines. Bierce also compares a zigzag to the uncertainty of the non-whites carrying on the white ways.

    -foolish fondness for or excessive submissiveness to one's wife
    Devil's- A perverted affection that has strayed to one's own wife.
    Bierce makes uxoriousness seem to be a very strange way to feel for your wife. However, he strays from the true definition which is just a very strong fancy for your wife. He makes having strong feelings for your wife out to be a creepy act that most men go astray from.

    -The condition or quality of being young.
    Devil's- The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.
    Youth is a time in everyone's life when they are young and still fairly innocent and oblivious to the world. Bierce refers to it in the broader picture of humans overtime, rather than individuals. His description depicts ancient life before anyone knew much and things were just starting to be discovered.

    -A knee-length skirt with deep pleats, usually of a tartan wool, worn as part of the dress for men in the Scottish Highlands
    Devil's- A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and Americans in Scotland
    While a kilt is a form of Scottish clothing for men and women all over the world, Bierce satyrizes it by making it seem like a tourist outfit between Scotsmen and Americans. Bierce targets the way that people wear weird clothes, when they travel far, that they normally would not wear at home.

    -The emergence and separation of offspring from the body of the mother
    Devil's-The first and direst of all disasters. As to the nature of it there appears to be no uniformity. Castor and Pollux were born from the egg. Pallas came out of a skull. Galatea was once a block of stone. Peresilis, who wrote in the tenth century, avers that he grew up out of the ground where a priest had spilled holy water. It is known that Arimaxus was derived from a hole in the earth, made by a stroke of lightning. Leucomedon was the son of a cavern in Mount Aetna, and I have myself seen a man come out of a wine cellar.
    While birth is supposed to be a magnificent act that starts the cycle of another life, Bierce is still able to humorously satyrize it. He connects birth as the start of all of the bad events to ever exist. Without life most disasters would not happen and birth is what started those lives so therefore birth is responsible in Bierce's eyes. He also mentions the different ways in which these lives have started, meanwhile they all ended in disastrous consequences, after starting with the birth.

    Devil's: n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.
    Web: n, a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.

    Bierce's definition and the typical American Language definition differ in that the first is described in a negative light- that one is abandoning all efforts to continue their quest, and the achievement will result in disgust towards itself- and the second is more so congratulation a well-done task. The satire is evident in Bierce's blatant opinion on what achievement really is, and he uses inversion to create a definition opposite to the one we are familiar with.
    Devil's: adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
    Web: adj, lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

    Bierce writes that to be selfish is to lack the thought of other people's selfishness, which essentially means that we are all selfish in our own right. Bierce is poking fun at human's inability to ever not be thinking of ourselves. Bierce is using irony in this definition to prove a point.
    Devil's: pro. His.
    Web: pro. Used to refer to a thing or things belonging to or associated with a female person or animal previously mentioned.

    Blunt and to the point, Bierce jokes that everything a woman has also belongs to him. We realize that this is satire because Bierce makes the statement as curt as possible to capture the absurdity of it, as the author is really making fun of how unfortunately untrue the statement is.
    Devil's: adj. "Raised" instead of brought up.
    Web: adj. ill-bred; coarse.

    In his definition, Bierce is connecting the word "raised" to animals,- as you would "raise livestock"- inferring that he compares low-breeds to animals. This is an example of a hyperbole, as Bierce is exaggerating the inhumane association between low-breeds and animals.
    Devil's: n. The plaintiff
    Web: a buffoon or jester, formerly kept by princes and nobles for their amusement.

    Taking instead, the literal route of the phase, Bierce directly refers to a government court, where the fool is the one protecting and enforcing the Justice System. Bierce slyly infers that the he disagrees with the Justice System by stating that it would take a "fool" to protect and defend it, as a plaintiff does.

  21. 1) Hers:
    Dictionary: a form of the possessive case of she used as a predicate adjective.
    Devil's Dictionary: His.
    -In this definition the author was making a joke towards men. She used a type of inversion to make this satire. "His" is the exact opposite of the word "hers", which is what makes this definition ironic. Bierce implied that women have nothing, and anything they do own belongs to their husbands. Women had very little rights in the early 1900s, around the time this was written, and this is what the satirist was trying to point out.

    2) November:
    Dictionary: The eleventh month of the year, containing 30 days.
    Devil's Dictionary: The eleventh twelfth of a weariness.
    -In this definition, the satirist is making a joke about the year as a whole. It is clear the speaker in this dictionary has a pessimistic view, which is part of which makes the definition comical.
    3) Quill:
    Dictionary: A feather, as of a goose, formed into a pen for writing.
    Devil's Dictionary: An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly wielded by an ass. This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting Presence.
    -Writers were the target of this definition. Here the speaker implies that writers are not very intelligent, as she says that quills were 'commonly wielded by an ass'. It is also humorous that Bierce refers to the quill as 'an implement of torture', because quills would not cause physical harm, the speaker is implying what is written by the writer may be painful to read.
    4) Zeal:
    Dictionary: Fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.
    Devil’s Dictionary: A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.
    - The speaker uses sarcasm in this definition. I think the satirist is poking fun at the older citizens who have lost determination and desire. She uses hyperbole when she describes zeal as a ‘nervous disorder’, and she is implying that there is something wrong with having enthusiasm. I think the author is saying that overtime, we lose our drive and determination to get things accomplished.
    5) Nonsense:
    Dictionary: Conduct, action, etc., that is senseless, foolish, or absurd.
    Devil’s Dictionary: The objections that are urged against this excellent dictionary.
    -In this definition, the satirist is using a sort of hyperbole to describe her own dictionary. She is implying that everything in this dictionary is completely true, and anyone who thinks otherwise is foolish. This is a clue to the audience (if they were not aware already), that this piece of work is a satire. I think it is humorous that Bierce chose to talk about the book, in her book. Instead of giving a definition, Bierce uses a sort of example to describe the ‘meaning’ of nonsense.

  22. Alliance
    Web: n. a formal agreement or treaty between two or more nations to cooperate for specific purposes.
    Devil's: n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.

    In Bierce's definition, an alliance is only formed when two nations are so heavily invested in each other that they would not have the economic means to separate and attempt to attack another nation by them selves. Bierce refers to the nations that enter an alliance as "thieves", for when nations enter an alliance, they assist each other in attacking and defending against a third nation.

    Web: n. either of two broad-snouted crocodilians of the genus Alligator, of the southeastern U.S. and eastern China.
    Devil's: n. The crocodile of America, superior in every detail to the crocodile of the effete monarchies of the Old World. Herodotus says the Indus is, with one exception, the only river that produces crocodiles, but they appear to have gone West and grown up with the other rivers. From the notches on his back the alligator is called a sawrian.

    Immediately Bierce begins to speak of how Americans deem themselves as superiors to the rest of the world. He mentions how all crocodiles are said to come from the same origin, meaning that they have the same background and that they are not that different from the rest of the world. Then they are called "sawrian", or dinosaur, expanding on how Americans believe themselves to be the large player in shaping the world.

    Web: n. a person engaged in a lawsuit.
    Devil's: n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.

    When in a lawsuit, there is very little chance of one party receiving all commodities. It is a metaphor referencing how one must sacrifice something important, to retain something of equal importance, that would lead to a dire situation without, and how we are so heavily attached to physical possessions, we wouldn't know how to live without it.

    Web: n. a person who goes or travels on foot; walker.
    Devil's: n. The variable (and audible) part of the roadway for an automobile.

    On the roadway cars will go from point A to point B. When people are added to the mix, this can cause an unknown reaction. The human factor can cause the car to get to point B slower, faster, or not get there at all. People will shout and holler if they can't get to point B quick enough, causing road rage, which causes accidents, which leads to drastic different answer than when it was simply that "cars will go from point A to point B."

    Web: n. a rod or wand borne in the hand as an emblem of regal or imperial power.
    Devil's: n. A king's staff of office, the sign and symbol of his authority. It was originally a mace with which the sovereign admonished his jester and vetoed ministerial measures by breaking the bones of their proponents.

    The king is the ultimate form of power of the land, his word is law. The power of the king is represented through his scepter, which becomes a physical representation of his power and authority. The king has the power and ability to silence any opposed to his ruling by using it for its original purpose of battle.

    WEB'S: n. A person who holds an office or ecclesiastical benefice
    DEVIL'S: n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.

    Bierce is targeting America's political views with this definition. He is pointing out the absurdity of a new view on an incumbent as a bad thing. Politicians for years have attacked one another for being incumbents, but it only means having held office before?

    WEB: n. A large North American bird (Meleagris gallopavo) that has brownish plumage and a bare wattled head and neck and is widely domesticated for food.
    DEVIL'S: n. A large bird whose flesh when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude. Incidentally, it is pretty good eating.

    In this definition Bierce is addressing the irony of what a turkey means to us. Turkey is the traditional main course for Thanksgiving, a holiday dating back hundred's of years. The bird symbolizes the holiday, which is supposed to be about being one with god and being grateful. But we celebrate this holiday by eating way too much of this bird? With this definition, Bierce is targeting traditional American ideas.

    WEB: n. A member of a racial group of people having light skin coloration, especially one of European origin. See Usage Note at black.
    DEVIL'S: adj. and, n. Black.

    This definition of Bierce's might be him sending a message. He uses an obvious contadiction possibly to make a point that racially white and black are equal, and therefore can be used to describe each other. The reader knows that the colors white and black are polar opposites, but Bierce uses them to describe one another. With this definition I think Bierce is targeting the racially discriminative views of his time period.

    WEB: v. To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.
    DEVIL'S: v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

    Bierce is targeting religion and its follower's overuse of this action for unnecessary things. He's saying that prayers are becoming less important because they are so frequently used for things that don't deserve attention. He's also poking fun at the idea that praying is essentially asking for something to happen that is out of the control of the earth and in some cases the person. He is using a hyperbole to stress the ridiculousness of asking for something from something that is bigger than the earth.

    WEB: n, Something owed, such as money, goods, or services.
    DEVIL'S: n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.

    With this definition, Bierce is using a hyperbole to stress the cruelty, and for the person in debt, hopelessness of having a debt to pay and or holding a debt over someone. He compares a debt to being chained and whipped as a slave to convey how a debt follows you for life. This is a pessimistic view because most debts can be payed off according to the web definition. Bierce seems to disagree with this and seems to think there is no way to escape debt. He is also using sarcasm by calling the substitute "ingenious". He is targeting the idea that debts can be payed off.

  24. MAN
    WEB: a member of the species Homo sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to sex
    DEVILS: n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.

    In this definition, Bierce lists very simple facts about human kind and uses them to his advantage. When he refers to man as an animal, he is ultimately using the correct term, but adds a different aspect to the definition when he provides the fact that each man is a murderer and his chief objective is to kill other men. When he refers to "the whole habitable earth and Canada" he uses a form of sarcasm to let the readers know that Bierce does not view Canada as a habitable place.

    WEB: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
    DEVILS: n. Desire and expectation rolled into one.

    I found this definition rather intriguing because it is the most truthful one I have found. So true, that it is a form of an understatement. Hope is so much more than just expectation and desire, and since it is such a powerful feeling, when I read this definition I felt that it was a major understatement. This provided an interesting definition for sure.

    WEB: two times, as in succession
    DEVILS: adv. Once too often.

    This definition provides another case of sarcasm. Also, Bierce spends little to no time writing this definition because it is a concept that he sees as humorous. The fact that he doesn't actually define the word at all further proves the sarcasm in the definition. With three simple words, Bierce creates one of the most creative and effective satirical definitions yet.

    WEB:a fluid or viscous substance used for writing or printing.
    DEVILS: n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal quality of the material. There are men called journalists who have established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid to get in pays twice as much to get out.

    In this definition, Bierce defines something so simple that the fact that he spends such a large amount of words to describe it draws the reader in to realize the devices used to exaggerate it. I for one have noticed that he uses hyberbole's (" The properties of ink are peculiar and contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal quality of the material.") to satirize the definiton.

  25. part 2:
    WEB: the grain of any cereal grass of the genus Triticum, especially T. aestivum, used in the form of flour for making bread, cakes, etc., and for other culinary and nutritional purposes.
    DEVILS: 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.

    In this definition, Bierce floats around the actual definition of wheat by listing the things that the grain actually does, rather than defining the term. Therefore, he uses the strategy of dancing around the topic rather than devoting the definition to defining the term. This causes the reader to think about what wheat actually is rather than what it does.

  26. NON-COMBATANT, n. A dead Quaker.
    Actual Definition: A person who is not engaged in fighting during a war, esp. a civilian, chaplain, or medical practitioner.

    Non-combatants are usually defined as citizens who do not fight in war. Here Birce takes that ad goes a different direction. He takes the fact that quakers are pacifists and if they were in a war situation they would end up dead. Bierce's definition of a non-combatant makes fun of a whole group of people and their views. In his definition he states if in a combat situation that the quakers would end up being dead because of their unwillingness to fight.

    OPPOSE, v. To assist with obstructions and objections.
    Actual Definition: disapprove of and attempt to prevent, esp. by argument.

    Opposition is usually defined as the action of arguing ones point to prove them wrong. Bierce takes the word oppose and in his own definition contradicts himself. His definition states “To assist with obstructions and objections.” ,but how can one person assist them with obstructions or objections. These objections are what separate one person from another in an argument.

    DEFAME, v.t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.
    Actual Definition:damage the good reputation of (someone); slander or libel.

    Defame is usually defined as damage done to one's reputation. Bierce satirizes that defaming is both lying and telling the truth. The way he defines the word is both contradictory and puzzling. He states first that its lying then its stating the truth. Bierce’s definition in modern context is quite comical because he would be making fun of how we communicate with each other.

    DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
    Actual Definition: the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country's representatives abroad.

    Diplomacy is used by people who represent one's country and the relationship between their country and the rest of the countries. Bierce satirises this by making a bold exaggeration to what diplomacy is he says that its “The patriotic art of lying for one's country.” when it is communicating and planning with other countries. This is funny because in discussing and planning with countries you don't know if they are lying to get the better deal out of the discussion. If someone was a diplomat they could lie to get the best out of every plan.

    BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.
    Actual Definition: a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

    Boundaries to us mark where one thing ends and another begins. Bierce makes fun of that by saying how nations don't really have boundries. He takes the geographical definition of boundaries to countries and what he says is that boundaries are only are what we make them to be. He makes fun of the invisible lines that separate what we think from the countries next to us. When Birce states “separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.” he makes the whole idea of both boundaries and countries sound meaningless.

  27. Hannah L.
    Devil's; HOUSELESS: Having paid all taxes on household goods.
    Dictionary; HOUSELESS: without a home or homeless

    It is funny how the Devils definition of houseless refers to have paid money on all of the things you own in your house. This could be playing on the fact that after you do end up paying for everything that comes with a house, you have pretty much no money to pay for anything else. You own nothing but your house after that matter. He is using a reversal because technically you do not own a house if you are houseless, but the Devil's definition is stating that you own everything in your house and cannot afford the house itself after.

    Devils; TWICE: Once too often
    Dictionary: TWICE ; Two times as in succession

    The Devil's definition is completely sarcastic and hilarious compared to the Dictionary definition. Especially for people who are lazy, twice is definitely "once too many". The sarcasm he uses makes the reader of his definitions find them humorous and takes them with a light-heart instead of taking the definitions literally.

    Devils; DISTANCE, n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs, and keep.
    Dictionary; DISTANCE: the extent or amount of space between two things, points, lines, etc.

    This definition greatly reminds me of "A Modest Proposal", where we discussed how horribly the rich seem to be treating the poor. This definition exemplifies the feelings that the rich have towards to poor. They take everything from them, and the only thing they are willing to leave them is distance, because the rich are too good for the poor anyways. I believe this is a form of understatement as well as toned with sarcasm. It makes the reader kind of chuckle, then realize the truth in the statement.

  28. Cody E.


    - n. a person who eats the flesh of other human beings.

    - n. A gastronome of the old school who preserves the simple tastes and adheres to the natural diet of the pre-pork period.

    Rather than demonizing or condemning cannibals, Bierce surprises the reader with unexpectedly respectful language. He uses meiosis in referring to a cannibal as a "gastronome", making the cannibal seem more like a food critic and less like a savage. He employs satirical inversion to make us think about cannibals in a different light: if you did not have pork on hand, would man not make an acceptable substitute? Bierce targets humanity and our so-called refinement. He implies that we view ourselves as such righteous, upright creatures when in fact we are just animals. He is not advocating cannibalism, but he is suggesting that our reaction to the concept was put into our head by society rather than nature.


    - n. a state of well-being and contentment

    - n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.

    The dictionary and Bierce provide a similar definition, but Bierce provides a reason for the happiness. Since there are such myriad causes of happiness, the average dictionary does not offer an explanation as to why one becomes happy; the reader typically assumes it is due to something positive, but Bierce uses inversion once again in stating that it arises from "contemplating the misery of another". He targets society as a whole, by characterizing us as cruel, scheming people that only derive pleasure from the misfortune of others. It seems that that has become somewhat true due the increasing competition in all aspects of life. In altering this definition, Bierce is hoping that society will learn that one's own pleasure can be achieved without the misery of others.


    - adj. conforming to, permitted by, or recognized by law or rules.

    - adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.

    This definition jibes at our judicial system, and how flexible it really is. The traditional definition implies a black and white scenario: it is against the law, or it is not. As our judicial branch would have us believe, every man is innocent until proven guilty. However, Bierce makes a powerful statement by implying that the law is determined by one man's will. This definition is ironic, for rather than portraying a judge as a fair determinant of the law, the judge is characterized as subjective and corruptible. By purposely leaving out the jury from the definition, Bierce makes the idea of lawfulness even less just.

  29. Cody E.


    - address a solemn request or expression of thanks to a deity or other object of worship.

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

    Bierce takes on a sarcastic tone in order to mock the practices of religion. It's as if he imagines God saying "oh yeah, I'll just annul the laws of life in order to help you out, no problem!" While the religious set might even agree with this definition (for it would be a testament to God's power) Bierce tries to point out how ridiculous religion can be if thought about logically. This satirises the religiously devout, and the church in general. By using matter-of-fact language in his definition, Bierce attempts to get through to the reader and make them think twice about their religious beliefs. He also pokes fun at how self-centered society has become, for we think that our prayer will be answered even when we do not deserve it.


    - n. An adult female human.

    - 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

    While woman is a very concrete term in the dictionary, Bierce uses Pober's quote to give a much more elaborate definition. Pober used apophasis to state what a woman is not: an animal. This statement satirizes male "dominance" and the idea that women are creatures on a man's leash. By discussing women as "having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication" and that they "can be taught not to talk" Pober ridiculed the men in society that actually thought of women as their own controlled possessions. The scientific language and mention of zoologists reinforced the idea of women as a species rather than man's counterpart. Bierce most likely used this definition to highlight the absurdity of current views towards women.

  30. un-A·mer·i·can
    not American; not characteristic of or proper to the U.S.; foreign or opposed to the characters, values, standards, goals, etc., of the U.S.

    UN-AMERICAN, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.

    Here, Bierce makes a direct jab at american elitism. the term "Un-American" had come to mean, at the time, uncivilized people that are too stupid to grasp the incredible power of america, and therefore were not worthy of american's time This connotation holds true even today for some people, and the satire of the concept holds true even today. The idea of america controlling every nation and all Un-Americans being savage heathens is a bit of a scary concept, but some people actually believe it to be true, and it is these closed-minded people that Bierce seeks to make fun of.

    a male sovereign or monarch; a man who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right, the chief authority over a country and people.

    KING, n. A male person commonly known in America as a "crowned head," although he never wears a crown and has usually no head to speak of.

    Kings have, in our culture, taken on a fairly postive connotation, even in 1881. However, this is more for kings in the king-arthur olde thyme way. bierce decides to use a king to define anyone with absolute power, by avoiding mentioning monarchy, right to rule given at birth, or ruling over land at all. Instead, he notes that “Kings” nowadays never wear crowns, indicating that the old-thyme king is not what is being insinuated. Instead anyone in a position of power could be a “king” if they use their power wrong. This leads to the final part of the definition that kings “have no heads to speak of.” obviously referencing that many people in power have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, even as they hold the power of a king.

  31. big·ot
    a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

    BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

    this definition pokes fun at the misuse of the word “bigot” in our society. people will rush to call each other racists at any possible interval to make someone of differing opinions look bad. This applies incredibly well even today, as people try and try again to bring issues such as race or sexual orientation into problems that they have no right to be in, for the sake of winning an argument.

    words or language having little or no sense or meaning.

    NONSENSE, n. The objections that are urged against this excellent dictionary.

    This definition is a prime example of the separation between speaker and author. The speaker of the dictionary believes every definition to be true and the real definition at the words, all the while the author, Bierce, is winking at the reader as if to say “Isn’t this guy an idiot?” The speaker’s disregard for any objection to anything he says pokes fun at the speaker, while making the author look all the better.

  32. Devils; LOW BRED: "raised" instead of being brought up
    Dictionary: LOW BRED: chracterized by low or vulgar breeding

    The devils dictionary makes it seem as though the low bred are raised like animals instead of being brought up as humans are. It is taking a hit at the social classes just as many of these other definitions are. Because of someones social class, the are a different type of person. He is using a register to differentiate between two classes of people by saying the word "raised"

    1. Devils: JUSTICE: a commodity which is more or less adulterated condition in which the State sells to a citizen as a reward for his alliegiance, taxes and personal service.
      Dictionary; JUSTICE: the quality of being just and of moral rights.

      The devils definition is comical because it is basically saying that justice is earned and isnt a right to the citizens. The state chooses to give citizen's there justice in turn for their money and lives. This is how some people may actually feel justice is acquired instead of being a given right. The devils definition uses real life examples citizens must complete to actually maintain their lives as citizens and this makes it believable that it could be the actuall definition of justice.

  33. Devil’s Dictionary Definition of CONVENT, n. A place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the vice of idleness

    Definition of Convent, the building or buildings occupied by such a society; a monastery or nunnery.

    Ambrose Bierce uses parody to satirize nuns. This is an understatement of what the nuns really do because they help the poor and pray as part of their jobs. Nuns typically join the convent to help others and never leave. Since nuns are so holy and down to earth Bierce uses idleness which actually means that they are lazy because they do not face hard labor usually.

    Devil’s Dictionary Definition of RUMOR, n. A favorite weapon of the assassins of character.

    Definition of Rumor, gossip; hearsay

    Bierce uses burlesque to exaggerate what rumors do to a person and how others see them. You can easily see how he had come up with this definition because rumors can destroy a person even when they aren’t true. In his definition he also insults the people that start rumors, threading them into the definition and what discussions that it may cause.

    Devil’s Dictionary Definition of HOPE, n. Desire and expectation rolled into one.

    Definition of Hope, the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

    By using exaggeration in the definition of hope he is giving the reader of his dictionary the over the top definition which combines beliefs, definition, and expectations to make everything join to be relatable. Bierce gives a close definition to the real one in this dictionary entry which is quite different from his other entries because it is what you expect from this word.

    Devil’s Dictionary Definition of MAYONNAISE, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

    Definition of Mayonnaise, a thick dressing of egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, oil, and seasonings, used for salads, sandwiches, vegetable dishes, etc.

    Humor is used to mock the French in the definition of this unexpected word, Mayonnaise. In this definition Bierce is really saying French people use too much Mayonnaise and is emphasizing how important it is to them and their lives.

    Devil’s Dictionary Definition of MULATTO, n. A child of two races, ashamed of both.

    Definition of Mulatto, the offspring of one white parent and one black parent: not in technical use.
    I don’t believe that Bierce used the current definition of Mulatto when he had written this. I believe that he used the word’s origin which is in 1565. The old definition referred to these children as mules. By being called a mule these children felt embarrassed of their ancestry.