The Devil's Dictionary
This short dictionary, found online in both Credo Reference and Netlibrary is a collection of definitions written between 1881 and 1906 by Ambrose Bierce an American journalist and writer. Bierce, once known as “the wickedest man in San Francisco” and who vanished in Mexico in 1914, wrote these biting, sarcastic, often humorous definitions as part of a large body of written work. He is most remembered today for his tale of the Civil War, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and his tales of the supernatural. The Devils Dictionary reflects the author’s dislike of hypocrisy, corruption and what he viewed as false values. In the Credo version, the definitions are arranged with alphabetic links, in the Netlibrary version the book is displayed in PDF-style page views that can be quickly navigated through links found in the left-hand column. The first edition of this work was titled “The Cynic’s Word Book”, which gives an idea of the irreverent, satirical nature of the contents. Many of the definitions contain short poems that further illustrate his point of view and many would still be considered politically incorrect today, more than 100 years after they were written. A few examples:
BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
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.
So if you are in need of some short, humorous reading this summer, start here.