The Devil’s Dictionary. Best of.

I thought I’d try to share some of my favorite quotes from The Devil’s Dictionary, some funny, some thought provoking. It’s a way of holding on to the things I’m reading for a while longer, and revisiting them from time to time.


Beauty. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.

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

Discussion. A method of confirming others in their errors.

Economy. Purchasing the barrel of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.

Emotion. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes.

Fork. An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.

Garter. An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country.

Historian. A broad-gauge gossip.

Imagination. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.

Mad. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not confirming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual.

Ocean. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.

Price. Value, plus a reasonable sum for the wear and tear of conscience in demanding it.

Publish. In literary affairs, to become the fundamental element in a cone of critics.

Self-esteem. An erroneous appraisement.

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

Weather. The climate of an hour. A permanent topic of conversation among whom it does not interest, but who have inherited the tendency to chatter about it from naked arboreal ancestors whom it keenly concerned.

Wine. Fermented grape-juice known to the Women’s Christian Union as “liquor,” sometimes as “rum.” Wine, madame is God’s next best gift to man.

Witch. (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.



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