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on 22 May 2014
These satirical definitions show Bierce's wit and disenchantment with other people's enthusiasms at his very best.
From mocking editors, politicians, critics, to giving his own sardonic meaning to everyday words, Bierce provides a whole new vocabulary to anyone seeking to compose invective or just be wittier.
Examples:
HARANGUE: A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harangue-otang
PURITAN: A pious gentleman, who believed in letting all people do as -he- liked
CONSERVATIVE: A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace
them with others.
Nobody escapes his eye for the ridiculous or his acerbic pen, which makes splendid fun of philosophical ideas (Nihilist: A Russian who denies the existence of anything but Tolstoi. The Leader of the school is Tolstoi.), medicine (Gout: a physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient), religion (Orthodox: An ox wearing the popular religious yoke), prohibition (Rum: Temperance word for all drinks except tea and water), and drops numerous verses and anecdotes to amuse his readers and win them to his cynical thinking.
I'd suggest this as a great resource for journalists (Reporter: A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words) and comedians, and a great read for anyone who likes a good laugh.
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on 23 February 2012
If you find that the art of good communication has been transformed into the art of obfuscation, then this is the remedy to your confusion and annoyance. Bierce's clarity of thought, his wit and his cynical eye make The Devil's Dictionary a source of joy for the realist and those not enamoured of hypocrisy. But be warned, Bierce is even-handed: your prejudices will be exposed and punctured, and you smile as he deals it a heavy blow.
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on 17 April 2009
Two years short of its centenary, this book is as relevant as ever it was, and wickedly funny to boot. Try this for size:
POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Now if that's not relevant to today's political arena, then I'm a lawyer.
LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

Essential reading. Enough said.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 February 2016
Written between 1881 and 1906, I found the language a bit intrusive at the start of this book but by the end of the A section I was used to it, by the end of the B section I'd stopped noticing it and by half way through C I was charmed. Bierce is an olden days Victor Meldrew. He is cynical and defines words and the world in a pessimistic and amusing fashion.
Here are a few of his definitions;
Auctioneer, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.
Historian, n. A broad-gauge gossip.
Sentiment, n. A sickly half-brother of Thought.
As well as short snappy definitions there are much longer ones and ones that include poems and prose to illustrate his point.
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on 12 September 2009
A breath of fresh air considering the times it was written in! Bierce turns ordinary words into little acid anecdotes about the human condition; think of Ms Dorothy Parker Vs Spike Milligan! How on earth he got away with some of the interpretations in such a time is unbelievable! A book to dip into now and again and a laugh out loud tour de force of down to earth take-it-of-leave-it wisdom, a must for any bookshelf. DMF
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on 18 August 2014
This version has been revised to make it more PC for our times. Whoever did this missed the point entirely. This is a shameful hatchet job on the author's original work.

The Dover thrift version is a better purchase.
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on 31 August 2014
As described, well packaged and promptly sent. Still pertinent a century after its first compilation. Medicine too acid to take except in small doses from the man who defined 'alone' as 'in bad company'... Wicked!
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on 28 August 2013
Great book, very funny and easy just to pick and put down when you have a couple of minutes. Many entries are laugh out loud.
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on 15 December 2015
excellent
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