The Devil's Dictionary (Dover Thrift Editions) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Buy New

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Buy Used
Used - Good See details
Price: 1.89

More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading The Devil's Dictionary (Dover Thrift Editions) on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Devil's Dictionary (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback]

Ambrose Bierce
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: 2.65 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it Thursday, 18 Sep.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Book Description

1 July 1993 Dover Thrift Editions
Over 1,000 barbed and brilliant definitions by the 19th-century journalist and satirist often called "the American Swift." Congratulations are "the civility of envy." A coward is "one who in an emergency thinks with his legs." A historian is a "broad-gauge gossip," more. H. L. Mencken called these "some of the most gorgeous witticisms in the English language."

Frequently Bought Together

The Devil's Dictionary (Dover Thrift Editions) + An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and Other Stories (Dover Thrift Editions)
Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (1 July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486275426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486275420
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.4 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

About the Author

Journalist, short story writer, and satirist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) was equally adept in a variety of genres, from ghost stories to poetry to political commentary. Bierce's fiction is particularly distinguished by its realistic depictions of the author's Civil War experiences.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive collection 29 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
'The Devil's Dictionary' is an interesting, very intellectually cynical collection of proposed definitions to words collected by Ambrose Gwinett Bierce, a journalist, writer, Civil War veteran, and general misanthrope, who disappeared without a trace in Mexico about 1914. In the words of H.L. Mencken, Bierce has produced 'some of the most gorgeous witticism of the English language.' Bierce delights in irreverence and poking fun at all aspects of life.
Bierce's own definition of dictionary gives some insight into his general thought patterns:
'Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.'
This would lead us to conclude (most correctly) that Bierce is a world-class cynic. What is a cynic?
'Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.'
Originally published under the title 'The Cynic's Word Book', most of the definitions in this book originally appeared as part newspaper columns. There have been many imitators, but this is the first and finest collection. Arranged as a dictionary, it provides an interesting writer's tool for finding a unique perspective on words and phrases. There are more than 1000 entries. A few examples include:
'Outdo, v.t., To make an enemy.'
'Universalist, n. One who foregoes the advantage of a Hell for persons of another faith.'
Fair warning -- those who do not like cynicism and scathing wit will find this book irritating, and sometimes offensive.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining 13 Dec 2003
I have found that this dictionary can serve a number of purposes. It can sit on your bookcase and look interesting, you can read it (in which case you'll probably burst out laughing on occasion) and you can learn parts of it to use as wit in conversation.
The last is the most entertaining and this book is packed full of wit (or maybe just honesty).
So buy it, and buy it now.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is actually as devilish as it looks. I have burst into laughter many times while reading it. The definitions are really creative and shows that the author was very good at observing everything going around him. It tells the truth about the meaning of words, but always with a sense of humour, which they deserve. This dictionary is very entertaining, provocative and, yes, realistic. Mr.Bierce is not afraid to say what the others would not and that is always something I like in an author. It is physically thin but mentally thick, that is, it will provoke you to reconsider the definitions you have in your mind. It is both fun and an eye-opener. Probably the most entertaining dictionary in the world.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Last week I was watching an episode of Lewis in which a character described politics as a "strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles". Although he indicated that the thought wasn't original, he didn't have time to mention that he was quoting from this collection of epigrams. Its author has been described as a Yankee Oscar Wilde, although his nickname - "Bitter Bierce" - suggests that the theme of his writing was less varied and more cynical than that of that warm-hearted, legendary wit.

A book like this is made to be read and quoted piecemeal - in fact, reading it all the way through is rather like trying to ingest a crate of lemons - so the best way to give some idea of its contents is to simply quote a few of the (many) definitions that remained in my mind after reading it:

Backbite: To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.

Peace: In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

Effect: The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order. The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other - which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog.

Congratulation: The civility of envy.

Absurdity: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.

Wedding: A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.

Exile: One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delving deeper. 24 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ambrose Bierce, who mysteriously disappeared during a reported expedition to link up with Pancho Villa, left the world two great gifts: his beautiful short story "An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" and "The Devil's Dictionary", this little volume of his definition of words and terms that reveal to the reader the full thrust of Bierce's clear-eyed vision of all that was wrong in the US and all that ought to be made right.

"The Devil's Dictionary" should be, if not at every man's bedside, then at least have pride of place on that little shelf beside his w.c. where inspirational works are left for the greater edification of he who there takes his restful ease.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated edition
Hilarious. Beautifully illustrated edition.
Published 16 days ago by Robert Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Beatrice
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Curmudgeon
This was a gift for a friend - I have the exact same edition, and this way I can refer to the exact page if I want to point something up. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Timothy J. Haigh
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent humorous dictionatry
I'd always wanted to read Ambrose Bierce's work having heard excerpts from it in the past. It doesn't disappoint although some of his definitions are now somewhat dated and refer... Read more
Published 13 months ago by CJ Twamley
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
I am a long time admirer of Ambrose Bierce and this book is a must read for any middle aged (or aspiring) cynic. Well worth reading. Read more
Published 17 months ago by ANDREW WILTSHIRE
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!
This is a fabulous book! I've really enjoyed the cover and also the edition is perfect.
And the lovely devil on the cover simply makes me laugh!
Published 24 months ago by Carla
5.0 out of 5 stars Diabolically witty
This famous book, though not to everyone's tastes and certainly not PC, is a gem. Written over 100 years ago, it is a compilation of definitions which originally appeared in an... Read more
Published on 29 Feb 2012 by puzzled94
1.0 out of 5 stars Diabolical formatting from so-called publisher
I wanted a clean, well set out version of this classic for my Kindle, so I trusted the claims of ease of navigation and professional layout by the publisher. Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by Carol P
4.0 out of 5 stars Still devilish
This is a faux-dictionary of tongue-in-cheek definitions of everyday words and phrases. In each case the definition pricks a popular conceit, or reveals the unspoken truth. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by Stephen Hudson
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Kindle edition
This is a very poorly formatted edition. Variable fonts, page breaks everywhere, words appearing from nowhere and footnote references with no hyperlink. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2011 by Badger
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category