The Devil’s Dictionary
By Ambrose Bierce

Presented by

Public Domain Books


VALOR, n. A soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler’s hope. “Why have you halted?” roared the commander of a division and Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; “move forward, sir, at once." “General,” said the commander of the delinquent brigade, “I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.”

VANITY, n. The tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass.

  They say that hens do cackle loudest when
      There’s nothing vital in the eggs they’ve laid;
      And there are hens, professing to have made
  A study of mankind, who say that men
  Whose business ’tis to drive the tongue or pen
      Make the most clamorous fanfaronade
      O’er their most worthless work; and I’m afraid
  They’re not entirely different from the hen.
  Lo! the drum-major in his coat of gold,
      His blazing breeches and high-towering cap —
  Imperiously pompous, grandly bold,
      Grim, resolute, an awe-inspiring chap!
  Who’d think this gorgeous creature’s only virtue
  Is that in battle he will never hurt you?

Hannibal Hunsiker

VIRTUES, Certain abstentions.

VITUPERATION, n. Saite, as understood by dunces and all such as suffer from an impediment in their wit.

VOTE, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.


Author’s Preface  •  A  •  B  •  C  •  D  •  E  •  F  •  G  •  H  •  I  •  J  •  K  •  L  •  M  •  N  •  O  •  P  •  Q  •  R  •  S  •  T  •  U  •  V  •  W  •  X  •  Y  •  Z

[Buy at Amazon]
The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary
By Ambrose Bierce
At Amazon