Definitions Print


You've seen plenty of new definitions, some allegedly from Washington Post contests and so forth, with fun new meanings for words we use every day, or new words made out of some others.  My favorite definitions are still those that Ambrose Bierce published in what came to be known as The Devil's Dictionary.  He was one of the most acerbic wits ever.


Some excellent definitions for 2008:

Electile Dysfunction, n.  The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year. 

Political correctness, n.  A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Years ago, Adlai Stevenson had some great ones, too, including:

Editor, n.  One who separates the wheat from the chaff--and then prints the chaff.


From The Devil's Dictionary

Marriage, n.  The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.

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

Tsetse 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.)

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

Lawyer, n.  One skilled in circumvention of the law.

Lawsuit, n.  A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Fiddle, n.  An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.

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

Consult, v.t.  To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.

Bore, n.  A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

Bride, n.  A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.

Barometer, n.  An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.

Appeal, v.t.  In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.

Architect, n.  One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.

Witch, n.  (1) An 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.

Telephone, n.  An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.

Self-esteem, n.  An erroneous appraisement.

Senate, n.  A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

Saint, n.  A dead sinner revised and edited.

Rumor, n.  A favorite weapon of the assassins of character.