The Internet Wiretap 1st Online Edition of

                      THE DEVIL’s DICTIONARY


                          AMBROSE BIERCE

           Copyright 1911 by Albert and Charles Boni, Inc.
               A Public Domain Text, Copyright Expired

                       Released April 15 1993

                 Entered by Aloysius of &tSftDotIotE


_The Devil’s Dictionary_ was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was 
continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906.  In that 
year a large part of it was published in covers with the title _The 
Cynic’s Word Book_, a name which the author had not the power to 
reject or happiness to approve.  To quote the publishers of the 
present work:
    "This more reverent title had previously been forced upon him by 
the religious scruples of the last newspaper in which a part of the 
work had appeared, with the natural consequence that when it came out 
in covers the country already had been flooded by its imitators with a 
score of 'cynic' books -- _The Cynic’s This_, _The Cynic’s That_, and 
_The Cynic’s t'Other_.  Most of these books were merely stupid, though 
some of them added the distinction of silliness.  Among them, they 
brought the word 'cynic' into disfavor so deep that any book bearing 
it was discredited in advance of publication."
    Meantime, too, some of the enterprising humorists of the country 
had helped themselves to such parts of the work as served their needs, 
and many of its definitions, anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had 
become more or less current in popular speech.  This explanation is 
made, not with any pride of priority in trifles, but in simple denial 
of possible charges of plagiarism, which is no trifle.  In merely 
resuming his own the author hopes to be held guiltless by those to 
whom the work is addressed -- enlightened souls who prefer dry wines 
to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang.
    A conspicuous, and it is hope not unpleasant, feature of the book 
is its abundant illustrative quotations from eminent poets, chief of 
whom is that learned and ingenius cleric, Father Gassalasca Jape, 
S.J., whose lines bear his initials.  To Father Jape’s kindly 
encouragement and assistance the author of the prose text is greatly 


ABASEMENT, n.  A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence 
of wealth of power.  Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when 
addressing an employer.

ABATIS, n.  Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside 
from molesting the rubbish inside.

ABDICATION, n.  An act whereby a sovereign attests his sense of the 
high temperature of the throne.

    Poor Isabella’s Dead, whose abdication
    Set all tongues wagging in the Spanish nation.
    For that performance 'twere unfair to scold her:
    She wisely left a throne too hot to hold her.
    To History she'll be no royal riddle --
    Merely a plain parched pea that jumped the griddle.

ABDOMEN, n.  The temple of the god Stomach, in whose worship, with 
sacrificial rights, all true men engage.  From women this ancient 
faith commands but a stammering assent.  They sometimes minister at 
the altar in a half-hearted and ineffective way, but true reverence 
for the one deity that men really adore they know not.  If woman had a 
free hand in the world’s marketing the race would become 

ABILITY, n.  The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of 
the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones.  In the 
last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high 
degree of solemnity.  Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is 
rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.

ABNORMAL, adj.  Not conforming to standard.  In matters of thought and 
conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to be 
detested.  Wherefore the lexicographer adviseth a striving toward the 
straiter [sic] resemblance of the Average Man than he hath to himself.  
Whoso attaineth thereto shall have peace, the prospect of death and 
the hope of Hell.

ABORIGINIES, n.  Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a 
newly discovered country.  They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.


    By _Abracadabra_ we signify
        An infinite number of things.
    'Tis the answer to What? and How? and Why?
    And Whence? and Whither? -- a word whereby
        The Truth (with the comfort it brings)
    Is open to all who grope in night,
    Crying for Wisdom’s holy light.

    Whether the word is a verb or a noun
        Is knowledge beyond my reach.
    I only know that 'tis handed down.
            From sage to sage,
            From age to age --
        An immortal part of speech!

    Of an ancient man the tale is told
    That he lived to be ten centuries old,
        In a cave on a mountain side.
        (True, he finally died.)
    The fame of his wisdom filled the land,
    For his head was bald, and you'll understand
        His beard was long and white
        And his eyes uncommonly bright.

    Philosophers gathered from far and near
    To sit at his feat and hear and hear,
            Though he never was heard
            To utter a word
        But "_Abracadabra, abracadab_,
            _Abracada, abracad_,
        _Abraca, abrac, abra, ab!_"
            'Twas all he had,
    'Twas all they wanted to hear, and each
    Made copious notes of the mystical speech,
            Which they published next --
            A trickle of text
    In the meadow of commentary.
        Mighty big books were these,
        In a number, as leaves of trees;
    In learning, remarkably -- very!

            He’s dead,
            As I said,
    And the books of the sages have perished,
    But his wisdom is sacredly cherished.
    In _Abracadabra_ it solemnly rings,
    Like an ancient bell that forever swings.
            O, I love to hear
            That word make clear
    Humanity’s General Sense of Things.
                                                       Jamrach Holobom

ABRIDGE, v.t.  To shorten.

        When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for 
    people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of 
    mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel 
    them to the separation.
                                                       Oliver Cromwell

ABRUPT, adj.  Sudden, without ceremony, like the arrival of a cannon- 
shot and the departure of the soldier whose interests are most 
affected by it.  Dr. Samuel Johnson beautifully said of another 
author’s ideas that they were "concatenated without abruption."

ABSCOND, v.i.  To "move in a mysterious way," commonly with the 
property of another.

    Spring beckons!  All things to the call respond;
    The trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.
                                                             Phela Orm

ABSENT, adj.  Peculiarly exposed to the tooth of detraction; vilifed; 
hopelessly in the wrong; superseded in the consideration and affection 
of another.

    To men a man is but a mind.  Who cares
    What face he carries or what form he wears?
    But woman’s body is the woman.  O,
    Stay thou, my sweetheart, and do never go,
    But heed the warning words the sage hath said:
    A woman absent is a woman dead.
                                                            Jogo Tyree

ABSENTEE, n.  A person with an income who has had the forethought to 
remove himself from the sphere of exaction.

ABSOLUTE, adj.  Independent, irresponsible.  An absolute monarchy is 
one in which the sovereign does as he pleases so long as he pleases 
the assassins.  Not many absolute monarchies are left, most of them 
having been replaced by limited monarchies, where the sovereign’s 
power for evil (and for good) is greatly curtailed, and by republics, 
which are governed by chance.

ABSTAINER, n.  A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying 
himself a pleasure.  A total abstainer is one who abstains from 
everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the 
affairs of others.

    Said a man to a crapulent youth:  "I thought
        You a total abstainer, my son."
    "So I am, so I am," said the scrapgrace caught --
        "But not, sir, a bigoted one."

ABSURDITY, n.  A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with 
one’s own opinion.

ACADEME, n.  An ancient school where morality and philosophy were 

ACADEMY, n.  [from ACADEME]   A modern school where football is 

ACCIDENT, n.  An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable 
natural laws.

ACCOMPLICE, n.  One associated with another in a crime, having guilty 
knowledge and complicity, as an attorney who defends a criminal, 
knowing him guilty.  This view of the attorney’s position in the 
matter has not hitherto commanded the assent of attorneys, no one 
having offered them a fee for assenting.

ACCORD, n.  Harmony.

ACCORDION, n.  An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an 

ACCOUNTABILITY, n.  The mother of caution.

    "My accountability, bear in mind,"
        Said the Grand Vizier:  "Yes, yes,"
    Said the Shah:  "I do -- 'tis the only kind
        Of ability you possess."
                                                            Joram Tate

ACCUSE, v.t.  To affirm another’s guilt or unworth; most commonly as a 
justification of ourselves for having wronged him.

ACEPHALOUS, adj.  In the surprising condition of the Crusader who 
absently pulled at his forelock some hours after a Saracen scimitar 
had, unconsciously to him, passed through his neck, as related by de 

ACHIEVEMENT, n.  The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.

ACKNOWLEDGE, v.t.  To confess.  Acknowledgement of one another’s 
faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.

ACQUAINTANCE, n.  A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, 
but not well enough to lend to.  A degree of friendship called slight 
when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or 

ACTUALLY, adv.  Perhaps; possibly.

ADAGE, n.  Boned wisdom for weak teeth.

ADAMANT, n.  A mineral frequently found beneath a corset.  Soluble in 
solicitate of gold.

ADDER, n.  A species of snake.  So called from its habit of adding 
funeral outlays to the other expenses of living.

ADHERENT, n.  A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects 
to get.

ADMINISTRATION, n.  An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to 
receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president.  A man of 
straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.

ADMIRAL, n.  That part of a war-ship which does the talking while the 
figure-head does the thinking.

ADMIRATION, n.  Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to 

ADMONITION, n.  Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe.  Friendly warning.

    Consigned by way of admonition,
    His soul forever to perdition.

ADORE, v.t.  To venerate expectantly.

ADVICE, n.  The smallest current coin.

    "The man was in such deep distress,"
    Said Tom, "that I could do no less
    Than give him good advice."  Said Jim:
    "If less could have been done for him
    I know you well enough, my son,
    To know that’s what you would have done."
                                                         Jebel Jocordy

AFFIANCED, pp.  Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain.

AFFLICTION, n.  An acclimatizing process preparing the soul for 
another and bitter world.

AFRICAN, n.  A nigger that votes our way.

AGE, n.  That period of life in which we compound for the vices that 
we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the 
enterprise to commit.

AGITATOR, n.  A statesman who shakes the fruit trees of his neighbors 
-- to dislodge the worms.

AIM, n.  The task we set our wishes to.

    "Cheer up!  Have you no aim in life?"
        She tenderly inquired.
    "An aim?  Well, no, I haven't, wife;
        The fact is -- I have fired."

AIR, n.  A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for 
the fattening of the poor.

ALDERMAN, n.  An ingenious criminal who covers his secret thieving 
with a pretence of open marauding.

ALIEN, n.  An American sovereign in his probationary state.

ALLAH, n.  The Mahometan Supreme Being, as distinguished from the 
Christian, Jewish, and so forth.

    Allah’s good laws I faithfully have kept,
    And ever for the sins of man have wept;
        And sometimes kneeling in the temple I
    Have reverently crossed my hands and slept.
                                                         Junker Barlow


    This thing Allegiance, as I suppose,
    Is a ring fitted in the subject’s nose,
    Whereby that organ is kept rightly pointed
    To smell the sweetness of the Lord’s anointed.

ALLIANCE, n.  In international politics, the union of two thieves who 
have their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they 
cannot separately plunder a third.

ALLIGATOR, n.  The crocodile of America, superior in every detail to 
the crocodile of the effete monarchies of the Old World.  Herodotus 
says the Indus is, with one exception, the only river that produces 
crocodiles, but they appear to have gone West and grown up with the 
other rivers.  From the notches on his back the alligator is called a 

ALONE, adj.  In bad company.

    In contact, lo! the flint and steel,
    By spark and flame, the thought reveal
    That he the metal, she the stone,
    Had cherished secretly alone.
                                                           Booley Fito

ALTAR, n.  The place whereupon the priest formerly raveled out the 
small intestine of the sacrificial victim for purposes of divination 
and cooked its flesh for the gods.  The word is now seldom used, 
except with reference to the sacrifice of their liberty and peace by a 
male and a female tool.

    They stood before the altar and supplied
    The fire themselves in which their fat was fried.
    In vain the sacrifice! -- no god will claim
    An offering burnt with an unholy flame.
                                                           M.P. Nopput

AMBIDEXTROUS, adj.  Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket 
or a left.

AMBITION, n.  An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while 
living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.

AMNESTY, n.  The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would 
be too expensive to punish.

ANOINT, v.t.  To grease a king or other great functionary already 
sufficiently slippery.

    As sovereigns are anointed by the priesthood,
    So pigs to lead the populace are greased good.

ANTIPATHY, n.  The sentiment inspired by one’s friend’s friend.

APHORISM, n.  Predigested wisdom.

    The flabby wine-skin of his brain
    Yields to some pathologic strain,
    And voids from its unstored abysm
    The driblet of an aphorism.
                                           "The Mad Philosopher," 1697

APOLOGIZE, v.i.  To lay the foundation for a future offence.

APOSTATE, n.  A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle 
only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient 
to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.

APOTHECARY, n.  The physician’s accomplice, undertaker’s benefactor 
and grave worm’s provider.

    When Jove sent blessings to all men that are,
    And Mercury conveyed them in a jar,
    That friend of tricksters introduced by stealth
    Disease for the apothecary’s health,
    Whose gratitude impelled him to proclaim:
    "My deadliest drug shall bear my patron’s name!"

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

APPETITE, n.  An instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a 
solution to the labor question.

APPLAUSE, n.  The echo of a platitude.

APRIL FOOL, n.  The March fool with another month added to his folly.

ARCHBISHOP, n.  An ecclesiastical dignitary one point holier than a 

    If I were a jolly archbishop,
    On Fridays I'd eat all the fish up --
    Salmon and flounders and smelts;
    On other days everything else.
                                                              Jodo Rem

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

ARDOR, n.  The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.

ARENA, n.  In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman 
wrestles with his record.

ARISTOCRACY, n.  Government by the best men.  (In this sense the word 
is obsolete; so is that kind of government.)  Fellows that wear downy 
hats and clean shirts -- guilty of education and suspected of bank 

ARMOR, n.  The kind of clothing worn by a man whose tailor is a 

ARRAYED, pp.  Drawn up and given an orderly disposition, as a rioter 
hanged to a lamppost.

ARREST, v.t.  Formally to detain one accused of unusualness.

    God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
                                            _The Unauthorized Version_

ARSENIC, n.  A kind of cosmetic greatly affected by the ladies, whom 
it greatly affects in turn.

    "Eat arsenic?  Yes, all you get,"
        Consenting, he did speak up;
    "'Tis better you should eat it, pet,
        Than put it in my teacup."
                                                             Joel Huck

ART, n.  This word has no definition.  Its origin is related as 
follows by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J.

    One day a wag -- what would the wretch be at? --
    Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT,
    And said it was a god’s name!  Straight arose
    Fantastic priests and postulants (with shows,
    And mysteries, and mummeries, and hymns,
    And disputations dire that lamed their limbs)
    To serve his temple and maintain the fires,
    Expound the law, manipulate the wires.
    Amazed, the populace that rites attend,
    Believe whate'er they cannot comprehend,
    And, inly edified to learn that two
    Half-hairs joined so and so (as Art can do)
    Have sweeter values and a grace more fit
    Than Nature’s hairs that never have been split,
    Bring cates and wines for sacrificial feasts,
    And sell their garments to support the priests.

ARTLESSNESS, n.  A certain engaging quality to which women attain by 
long study and severe practice upon the admiring male, who is pleased 
to fancy it resembles the candid simplicity of his young.

ASPERSE, v.t.  Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which 
one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.

ASS, n.  A public singer with a good voice but no ear.  In Virginia 
City, Nevada, he is called the Washoe Canary, in Dakota, the Senator, 
and everywhere the Donkey.  The animal is widely and variously 
celebrated in the literature, art and religion of every age and 
country; no other so engages and fires the human imagination as this 
noble vertebrate.  Indeed, it is doubted by some (Ramasilus, _lib. 
II., De Clem._, and C. Stantatus, _De Temperamente_) if it is not a 
god; and as such we know it was worshiped by the Etruscans, and, if we 
may believe Macrobious, by the Cupasians also.  Of the only two 
animals admitted into the Mahometan Paradise along with the souls of 
men, the ass that carried Balaam is one, the dog of the Seven Sleepers 
the other.  This is no small distinction.  From what has been written 
about this beast might be compiled a library of great splendor and 
magnitude, rivalling that of the Shakespearean cult, and that which 
clusters about the Bible.  It may be said, generally, that all 
literature is more or less Asinine.

    "Hail, holy Ass!" the quiring angels sing;
    "Priest of Unreason, and of Discords King!"
    Great co-Creator, let Thy glory shine:
    God made all else, the Mule, the Mule is thine!"

AUCTIONEER, n.  The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked 
a pocket with his tongue.

AUSTRALIA, n.  A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and 
commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate 
dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an 

AVERNUS, n.  The lake by which the ancients entered the infernal 
regions.  The fact that access to the infernal regions was obtained by 
a lake is believed by the learned Marcus Ansello Scrutator to have 
suggested the Christian rite of baptism by immersion.  This, however, 
has been shown by Lactantius to be an error.

    _Facilis descensus Averni,_
        The poet remarks; and the sense
    Of it is that when down-hill I turn I
        Will get more of punches than pence.
                                                        Jehal Dai Lupe


BAAL, n.  An old deity formerly much worshiped under various names.  
As Baal he was popular with the Phoenicians; as Belus or Bel he had 
the honor to be served by the priest Berosus, who wrote the famous 
account of the Deluge; as Babel he had a tower partly erected to his 
glory on the Plain of Shinar.  From Babel comes our English word 
"babble."  Under whatever name worshiped, Baal is the Sun-god.  As 
Beelzebub he is the god of flies, which are begotten of the sun’s rays 
on the stagnant water.  In Physicia Baal is still worshiped as Bolus, 
and as Belly he is adored and served with abundant sacrifice by the 
priests of Guttledom.

BABE or BABY, n.  A misshapen creature of no particular age, sex, or 
condition, chiefly remarkable for the violence of the sympathies and 
antipathies it excites in others, itself without sentiment or emotion.  
There have been famous babes; for example, little Moses, from whose 
adventure in the bulrushes the Egyptian hierophants of seven centuries 
before doubtless derived their idle tale of the child Osiris being 
preserved on a floating lotus leaf.

            Ere babes were invented
            The girls were contended.
            Now man is tormented
    Until to buy babes he has squandered
    His money.  And so I have pondered
            This thing, and thought may be
            'T were better that Baby
    The First had been eagled or condored.
                                                               Ro Amil

BACCHUS, n.  A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse 
for getting drunk.

    Is public worship, then, a sin,
        That for devotions paid to Bacchus
    The lictors dare to run us in,
        And resolutely thump and whack us?

BACK, n.  That part of your friend which it is your privilege to 
contemplate in your adversity.

BACKBITE, v.t.  To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find 

BAIT, n.  A preparation that renders the hook more palatable.  The 
best kind is beauty.

BAPTISM, n.  A sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself 
in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever.  It is 
performed with water in two ways -- by immersion, or plunging, and by 
aspersion, or sprinkling.

    But whether the plan of immersion
    Is better than simple aspersion
        Let those immersed
        And those aspersed
    Decide by the Authorized Version,
    And by matching their agues tertian.

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

BARRACK, n.  A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of 
which it is their business to deprive others.

BASILISK, n.  The cockatrice.  A sort of serpent hatched form the egg 
of a cock.  The basilisk had a bad eye, and its glance was fatal.  
Many infidels deny this creature’s existence, but Semprello Aurator 
saw and handled one that had been blinded by lightning as a punishment 
for having fatally gazed on a lady of rank whom Jupiter loved.  Juno 
afterward restored the reptile’s sight and hid it in a cave.  Nothing 
is so well attested by the ancients as the existence of the basilisk, 
but the cocks have stopped laying.

BASTINADO, n.  The act of walking on wood without exertion.

BATH, n.  A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, 
with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.

    The man who taketh a steam bath
    He loseth all the skin he hath,
    And, for he’s boiled a brilliant red,
    Thinketh to cleanliness he’s wed,
    Forgetting that his lungs he’s soiling
    With dirty vapors of the boiling.
                                                          Richard Gwow

BATTLE, n.  A method of untying with the teeth of a political knot 
that would not yield to the tongue.

BEARD, n.  The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly 
execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.

BEAUTY, n.  The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a 

BEFRIEND, v.t.  To make an ingrate.

BEG, v.  To ask for something with an earnestness proportioned to the 
belief that it will not be given.

    Who is that, father?

                          A mendicant, child,
    Haggard, morose, and unaffable -- wild!
    See how he glares through the bars of his cell!
    With Citizen Mendicant all is not well.

    Why did they put him there, father?

    Obeying his belly he struck at the laws.

    His belly?

                Oh, well, he was starving, my boy --
    A state in which, doubtless, there’s little of joy.
    No bite had he eaten for days, and his cry
    Was "Bread!" ever "Bread!"

                                What’s the matter with pie?

    With little to wear, he had nothing to sell;
    To beg was unlawful -- improper as well.

    Why didn't he work?

                         He would even have done that,
    But men said:  "Get out!" and the State remarked:  "Scat!"
    I mention these incidents merely to show
    That the vengeance he took was uncommonly low.
    Revenge, at the best, is the act of a Siou,
    But for trifles --

                        Pray what did bad Mendicant do?

    Stole two loaves of bread to replenish his lack
    And tuck out the belly that clung to his back.

    Is that _all_ father dear?

                                There’s little to tell:
    They sent him to jail, and they'll send him to -- well,
    The company’s better than here we can boast,
    And there’s --

                    Bread for the needy, dear father?

                                                       Um -- toast.
                                                              Atka Mip

BEGGAR, n.  One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.

BEHAVIOR, n.  Conduct, as determined, not by principle, but by 
breeding.  The word seems to be somewhat loosely used in Dr. Jamrach 
Holobom’s translation of the following lines from the _Dies Irae_:

        Recordare, Jesu pie,
        Quod sum causa tuae viae.
        Ne me perdas illa die.

    Pray remember, sacred Savior,
    Whose the thoughtless hand that gave your
    Death-blow.  Pardon such behavior.

BELLADONNA, n.  In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly 
poison.  A striking example of the essential identity of the two 

BENEDICTINES, n.  An order of monks otherwise known as black friars.

    She thought it a crow, but it turn out to be
        A monk of St. Benedict croaking a text.
    "Here’s one of an order of cooks," said she --
        "Black friars in this world, fried black in the next."
                                   "The Devil on Earth" (London, 1712)

BENEFACTOR, n.  One who makes heavy purchases of ingratitude, without, 
however, materially affecting the price, which is still within the 
means of all.

BERENICE’s HAIR, n.  A constellation (_Coma Berenices_) named in honor 
of one who sacrificed her hair to save her husband.

    Her locks an ancient lady gave
    Her loving husband’s life to save;
    And men -- they honored so the dame --
    Upon some stars bestowed her name.

    But to our modern married fair,
    Who'd give their lords to save their hair,
    No stellar recognition’s given.
    There are not stars enough in heaven.

BIGAMY, n.  A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will 
adjudge a punishment called trigamy.

BIGOT, n.  One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion 
that you do not entertain.

BILLINGSGATE, n.  The invective of an opponent.

BIRTH, n.  The first and direst of all disasters.  As to the nature of 
it there appears to be no uniformity.  Castor and Pollux were born 
from the egg.  Pallas came out of a skull.  Galatea was once a block 
of stone.  Peresilis, who wrote in the tenth century, avers that he 
grew up out of the ground where a priest had spilled holy water.  It 
is known that Arimaxus was derived from a hole in the earth, made by a 
stroke of lightning.  Leucomedon was the son of a cavern in Mount 
Aetna, and I have myself seen a man come out of a wine cellar.

BLACKGUARD, n.  A man whose qualities, prepared for display like a box 
of berries in a market -- the fine ones on top -- have been opened on 
the wrong side.  An inverted gentleman.

BLANK-VERSE, n.  Unrhymed iambic pentameters -- the most difficult 
kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much 
affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind.

BODY-SNATCHER, n.  A robber of grave-worms.  One who supplies the 
young physicians with that with which the old physicians have supplied 
the undertaker.  The hyena.

    "One night," a doctor said, "last fall,
    I and my comrades, four in all,
        When visiting a graveyard stood
    Within the shadow of a wall.

    "While waiting for the moon to sink
    We saw a wild hyena slink
        About a new-made grave, and then
    Begin to excavate its brink!

    "Shocked by the horrid act, we made
    A sally from our ambuscade,
        And, falling on the unholy beast,
    Dispatched him with a pick and spade."
                                                      Bettel K. Jhones

BONDSMAN, n.  A fool who, having property of his own, undertakes to 
become responsible for that entrusted to another to a third.
    Philippe of Orleans wishing to appoint one of his favorites, a 
dissolute nobleman, to a high office, asked him what security he would 
be able to give.  "I need no bondsmen," he replied, "for I can give 
you my word of honor."  "And pray what may be the value of that?" 
inquired the amused Regent.  "Monsieur, it is worth its weight in 

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

BOTANY, n.  The science of vegetables -- those that are not good to 
eat, as well as those that are.  It deals largely with their flowers, 
which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color, and ill- 

BOTTLE-NOSED, adj.  Having a nose created in the image of its maker.

BOUNDARY, n.  In political geography, an imaginary line between two 
nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary 
rights of the other.

BOUNTY, n.  The liberality of one who has much, in permitting one who 
has nothing to get all that he can.

        A single swallow, it is said, devours ten millions of insects 
    every year.  The supplying of these insects I take to be a signal 
    instance of the Creator’s bounty in providing for the lives of His 
                                                    Henry Ward Beecher

BRAHMA, n.  He who created the Hindoos, who are preserved by Vishnu 
and destroyed by Siva -- a rather neater division of labor than is 
found among the deities of some other nations.  The Abracadabranese, 
for example, are created by Sin, maintained by Theft and destroyed by 
Folly.  The priests of Brahma, like those of Abracadabranese, are holy 
and learned men who are never naughty.

    O Brahma, thou rare old Divinity,
    First Person of the Hindoo Trinity,
    You sit there so calm and securely,
    With feet folded up so demurely --
    You're the First Person Singular, surely.
                                                        Polydore Smith

BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think what we think.  That which 
distinguishes the man who is content to _be_ something from the man 
who wishes to _do_ something.  A man of great wealth, or one who has 
been pitchforked into high station, has commonly such a headful of 
brain that his neighbors cannot keep their hats on.  In our 
civilization, and under our republican form of government, brain is so 
highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of 

BRANDY, n.  A cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one 
part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the- 
grave and four parts clarified Satan.  Dose, a headful all the time.  
Brandy is said by Dr. Johnson to be the drink of heroes.  Only a hero 
will venture to drink it.

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



CAABA, n.  A large stone presented by the archangel Gabriel to the 
patriarch Abraham, and preserved at Mecca.  The patriarch had perhaps 
asked the archangel for bread.

CABBAGE, n.  A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and 
wise as a man’s head.
    The cabbage is so called from Cabagius, a prince who on ascending 
the throne issued a decree appointing a High Council of Empire 
consisting of the members of his predecessor’s Ministry and the 
cabbages in the royal garden.  When any of his Majesty’s measures of 
state policy miscarried conspicuously it was gravely announced that 
several members of the High Council had been beheaded, and his 
murmuring subjects were appeased.

CALAMITY, n.  A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder 
that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering.  Calamities 
are of two kinds:  misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to 

CALLOUS, adj.  Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils 
afflicting another.
    When Zeno was told that one of his enemies was no more he was 
observed to be deeply moved.  "What!" said one of his disciples, "you 
weep at the death of an enemy?"  "Ah, 'tis true," replied the great 
Stoic; "but you should see me smile at the death of a friend."

CALUMNUS, n.  A graduate of the School for Scandal.

CAMEL, n.  A quadruped (the _Splaypes humpidorsus_) of great value to 
the show business.  There are two kinds of camels -- the camel proper 
and the camel improper.  It is the latter that is always exhibited.

CANNIBAL, n.  A gastronome of the old school who preserves the simple 
tastes and adheres to the natural diet of the pre-pork period.

CANNON, n.  An instrument employed in the rectification of national 

CANONICALS, n.  The motley worm by Jesters of the Court of Heaven.

CAPITAL, n.  The seat of misgovernment.  That which provides the fire, 
the pot, the dinner, the table and the knife and fork for the 
anarchist; the part of the repast that himself supplies is the 
disgrace before meat.  _Capital Punishment_, a penalty regarding the 
justice and expediency of which many worthy persons -- including all 
the assassins -- entertain grave misgivings.

CARMELITE, n.  A mendicant friar of the order of Mount Carmel.

    As Death was a-rising out one day,
    Across Mount Camel he took his way,
        Where he met a mendicant monk,
        Some three or four quarters drunk,
    With a holy leer and a pious grin,
    Ragged and fat and as saucy as sin,
        Who held out his hands and cried:
    "Give, give in Charity’s name, I pray.
    Give in the name of the Church.  O give,
    Give that her holy sons may live!"
        And Death replied,
        Smiling long and wide:
        "I'll give, holy father, I'll give thee -- a ride."

        With a rattle and bang
        Of his bones, he sprang
    From his famous Pale Horse, with his spear;
        By the neck and the foot
        Seized the fellow, and put
    Him astride with his face to the rear.

    The Monarch laughed loud with a sound that fell
    Like clods on the coffin’s sounding shell:
    "Ho, ho!  A beggar on horseback, they say,
        Will ride to the devil!" -- and _thump_
        Fell the flat of his dart on the rump
    Of the charger, which galloped away.

    Faster and faster and faster it flew,
    Till the rocks and the flocks and the trees that grew
    By the road were dim and blended and blue
        To the wild, wild eyes
        Of the rider -- in size
        Resembling a couple of blackberry pies.
    Death laughed again, as a tomb might laugh
        At a burial service spoiled,
        And the mourners' intentions foiled
        By the body erecting
        Its head and objecting
    To further proceedings in its behalf.

    Many a year and many a day
    Have passed since these events away.
    The monk has long been a dusty corse,
    And Death has never recovered his horse.
        For the friar got hold of its tail,
        And steered it within the pale
    Of the monastery gray,
    Where the beast was stabled and fed
    With barley and oil and bread
    Till fatter it grew than the fattest friar,
    And so in due course was appointed Prior.

CARNIVOROUS, adj.  Addicted to the cruelty of devouring the timorous 
vegetarian, his heirs and assigns.

CARTESIAN, adj.  Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author 
of the celebrated dictum, _Cogito ergo sum_ -- whereby he was pleased 
to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence.  The dictum 
might be improved, however, thus:  _Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum_ -- 
"I think that I think, therefore I think that I am;" as close an 
approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made.

CAT, n.  A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be 
kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.

    This is a dog,
        This is a cat.
    This is a frog,
        This is a rat.
    Run, dog, mew, cat.
    Jump, frog, gnaw, rat.

CAVILER, n.  A critic of our own work.

CEMETERY, n.  An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, 
poets write at a target and stone-cutters spell for a wager.  The 
inscriptions following will serve to illustrate the success attained 
in these Olympian games:

        His virtues were so conspicuous that his enemies, unable to 
    overlook them, denied them, and his friends, to whose loose lives 
    they were a rebuke, represented them as vices.  They are here 
    commemorated by his family, who shared them.

        In the earth we here prepare a
        Place to lay our little Clara.
                                             Thomas M. and Mary Frazer
        P.S. -- Gabriel will raise her.

CENTAUR, n.  One of a race of persons who lived before the division of 
labor had been carried to such a pitch of differentiation, and who 
followed the primitive economic maxim, "Every man his own horse."  The 
best of the lot was Chiron, who to the wisdom and virtues of the horse 
added the fleetness of man.  The scripture story of the head of John 
the Baptist on a charger shows that pagan myths have somewhat 
sophisticated sacred history.

CERBERUS, n.  The watch-dog of Hades, whose duty it was to guard the 
entrance -- against whom or what does not clearly appear; everybody, 
sooner or later, had to go there, and nobody wanted to carry off the 
entrance.  Cerberus is known to have had three heads, and some of the 
poets have credited him with as many as a hundred.  Professor 
Graybill, whose clerky erudition and profound knowledge of Greek give 
his opinion great weight, has averaged all the estimates, and makes 
the number twenty-seven -- a judgment that would be entirely 
conclusive is Professor Graybill had known (a) something about dogs, 
and (b) something about arithmetic.

CHILDHOOD, n.  The period of human life intermediate between the 
idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth -- two removes from the sin 
of manhood and three from the remorse of age.

CHRISTIAN, n.  One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely 
inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.  
One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not 
inconsistent with a life of sin.

    I dreamed I stood upon a hill, and, lo!
    The godly multitudes walked to and fro
    Beneath, in Sabbath garments fitly clad,
    With pious mien, appropriately sad,
    While all the church bells made a solemn din --
    A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin.
    Then saw I gazing thoughtfully below,
    With tranquil face, upon that holy show
    A tall, spare figure in a robe of white,
    Whose eyes diffused a melancholy light.
    "God keep you, strange," I exclaimed.  "You are
    No doubt (your habit shows it) from afar;
    And yet I entertain the hope that you,
    Like these good people, are a Christian too."
    He raised his eyes and with a look so stern
    It made me with a thousand blushes burn
    Replied -- his manner with disdain was spiced:
    "What!  I a Christian?  No, indeed!  I'm Christ."

CIRCUS, n.  A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted 
to see men, women and children acting the fool.

CLAIRVOYANT, n.  A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of 
seeing that which is invisible to her patron, namely, that he is a 

CLARIONET, n.  An instrument of torture operated by a person with 
cotton in his ears.  There are two instruments that are worse than a 
clarionet -- two clarionets.

CLERGYMAN, n.  A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual 
affairs as a method of better his temporal ones.

CLIO, n.  One of the nine Muses.  Clio’s function was to preside over 
history -- which she did with great dignity, many of the prominent 
citizens of Athens occupying seats on the platform, the meetings being 
addressed by Messrs. Xenophon, Herodotus and other popular speakers.

CLOCK, n.  A machine of great moral value to man, allaying his concern 
for the future by reminding him what a lot of time remains to him.

    A busy man complained one day:
    "I get no time!"  "What’s that you say?"
    Cried out his friend, a lazy quiz;
    "You have, sir, all the time there is.
    There’s plenty, too, and don't you doubt it --
    We're never for an hour without it."
                                                          Purzil Crofe

CLOSE-FISTED, adj.  Unduly desirous of keeping that which many 
meritorious persons wish to obtain.

    "Close-fisted Scotchman!" Johnson cried
        To thrifty J. Macpherson;
    "See me -- I'm ready to divide
        With any worthy person."
    Sad Jamie:  "That is very true --
        The boast requires no backing;
    And all are worthy, sir, to you,
        Who have what you are lacking."
                                                         Anita M. Bobe

COENOBITE, n.  A man who piously shuts himself up to meditate upon the 
sin of wickedness; and to keep it fresh in his mind joins a 
brotherhood of awful examples.

    O Coenobite, O coenobite,
        Monastical gregarian,
    You differ from the anchorite,
        That solitudinarian:
    With vollied prayers you wound Old Nick;
    With dropping shots he makes him sick.
                                                          Quincy Giles

COMFORT, n.  A state of mind produced by contemplation of a neighbor’s 

COMMENDATION, n.  The tribute that we pay to achievements that 
resembles, but do not equal, our own.

COMMERCE, n.  A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the 
goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money 
belonging to E.

COMMONWEALTH, n.  An administrative entity operated by an incalculable 
multitude of political parasites, logically active but fortuitously 

    This commonwealth’s capitol’s corridors view,
    So thronged with a hungry and indolent crew
    Of clerks, pages, porters and all attaches
    Whom rascals appoint and the populace pays
    That a cat cannot slip through the thicket of shins
    Nor hear its own shriek for the noise of their chins.
    On clerks and on pages, and porters, and all,
    Misfortune attend and disaster befall!
    May life be to them a succession of hurts;
    May fleas by the bushel inhabit their shirts;
    May aches and diseases encamp in their bones,
    Their lungs full of tubercles, bladders of stones;
    May microbes, bacilli, their tissues infest,
    And tapeworms securely their bowels digest;
    May corn-cobs be snared without hope in their hair,
    And frequent impalement their pleasure impair.
    Disturbed be their dreams by the awful discourse
    Of audible sofas sepulchrally hoarse,
    By chairs acrobatic and wavering floors --
    The mattress that kicks and the pillow that snores!
    Sons of cupidity, cradled in sin!
    Your criminal ranks may the death angel thin,
    Avenging the friend whom I couldn't work in.

COMPROMISE, n.  Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives 
each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought 
not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his 

COMPULSION, n.  The eloquence of power.

CONDOLE, v.i.  To show that bereavement is a smaller evil than 

CONFIDANT, CONFIDANTE, n.  One entrusted by A with the secrets of B, 
confided by _him_ to C.

CONGRATULATION, n.  The civility of envy.

CONGRESS, n.  A body of men who meet to repeal laws.

CONNOISSEUR, n.  A specialist who knows everything about something and 
nothing about anything else.
    An old wine-bibber having been smashed in a railway collision, 
some wine was pouted on his lips to revive him.  "Pauillac, 1873," he 
murmured and died.

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

CONSOLATION, n.  The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate 
than yourself.

CONSUL, n.  In American politics, a person who having failed to secure 
and office from the people is given one by the Administration on 
condition that he leave the country.

CONSULT, v.i.  To seek another’s disapproval of a course already 
decided on.

CONTEMPT, n.  The feeling of a prudent man for an enemy who is too 
formidable safely to be opposed.

CONTROVERSY, n.  A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the 
injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet.

    In controversy with the facile tongue --
    That bloodless warfare of the old and young --
    So seek your adversary to engage
    That on himself he shall exhaust his rage,
    And, like a snake that’s fastened to the ground,
    With his own fangs inflict the fatal wound.
    You ask me how this miracle is done?
    Adopt his own opinions, one by one,
    And taunt him to refute them; in his wrath
    He'll sweep them pitilessly from his path.
    Advance then gently all you wish to prove,
    Each proposition prefaced with, "As you've
    So well remarked," or, "As you wisely say,
    And I cannot dispute," or, "By the way,
    This view of it which, better far expressed,
    Runs through your argument."  Then leave the rest
    To him, secure that he'll perform his trust
    And prove your views intelligent and just.
                                                    Conmore Apel Brune

CONVENT, n.  A place of retirement for woman who wish for leisure to 
meditate upon the vice of idleness.

CONVERSATION, n.  A fair to the display of the minor mental 
commodities, each exhibitor being too intent upon the arrangement of 
his own wares to observe those of his neighbor.

CORONATION, n.  The ceremony of investing a sovereign with the outward 
and visible signs of his divine right to be blown skyhigh with a 
dynamite bomb.

CORPORAL, n.  A man who occupies the lowest rung of the military 

    Fiercely the battle raged and, sad to tell,
    Our corporal heroically fell!
    Fame from her height looked down upon the brawl
    And said:  "He hadn't very far to fall."
                                                         Giacomo Smith

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

CORSAIR, n.  A politician of the seas.

COURT FOOL, n.  The plaintiff.

COWARD, n.  One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.

CRAYFISH, n.  A small crustacean very much resembling the lobster, but 
less indigestible.

        In this small fish I take it that human wisdom is admirably 
    figured and symbolized; for whereas the crayfish doth move only 
    backward, and can have only retrospection, seeing naught but the 
    perils already passed, so the wisdom of man doth not enable him to 
    avoid the follies that beset his course, but only to apprehend 
    their nature afterward.
                                                    Sir James Merivale

CREDITOR, n.  One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial 
Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.

CREMONA, n.  A high-priced violin made in Connecticut.

CRITIC, n.  A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody 
tries to please him.

    There is a land of pure delight,
        Beyond the Jordan’s flood,
    Where saints, apparelled all in white,
        Fling back the critic’s mud.

    And as he legs it through the skies,
        His pelt a sable hue,
    He sorrows sore to recognize
        The missiles that he threw.
                                                            Orrin Goof

CROSS, n.  An ancient religious symbol erroneously supposed to owe its 
significance to the most solemn event in the history of Christianity, 
but really antedating it by thousands of years.  By many it has been 
believed to be identical with the _crux ansata_ of the ancient phallic 
worship, but it has been traced even beyond all that we know of that, 
to the rites of primitive peoples.  We have to-day the White Cross as 
a symbol of chastity, and the Red Cross as a badge of benevolent 
neutrality in war.  Having in mind the former, the reverend Father 
Gassalasca Jape smites the lyre to the effect following:

    "Be good, be good!" the sisterhood
        Cry out in holy chorus,
    And, to dissuade from sin, parade
        Their various charms before us.

    But why, O why, has ne'er an eye
        Seen her of winsome manner
    And youthful grace and pretty face
        Flaunting the White Cross banner?

    Now where’s the need of speech and screed
        To better our behaving?
    A simpler plan for saving man
        (But, first, is he worth saving?)

    Is, dears, when he declines to flee
        From bad thoughts that beset him,
    Ignores the Law as 't were a straw,
        And wants to sin -- don't let him.

CUI BONO?  [Latin]  What good would that do _me_?

CUNNING, n.  The faculty that distinguishes a weak animal or person 
from a strong one.  It brings its possessor much mental satisfaction 
and great material adversity.  An Italian proverb says:  "The furrier 
gets the skins of more foxes than asses."

CUPID, n.  The so-called god of love.  This bastard creation of a 
barbarous fancy was no doubt inflicted upon mythology for the sins of 
its deities.  Of all unbeautiful and inappropriate conceptions this is 
the most reasonless and offensive.  The notion of symbolizing sexual 
love by a semisexless babe, and comparing the pains of passion to the 
wounds of an arrow -- of introducing this pudgy homunculus into art 
grossly to materialize the subtle spirit and suggestion of the work -- 
this is eminently worthy of the age that, giving it birth, laid it on 
the doorstep of prosperity.

CURIOSITY, n.  An objectionable quality of the female mind.  The 
desire to know whether or not a woman is cursed with curiosity is one 
of the most active and insatiable passions of the masculine soul.

CURSE, v.t.  Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick.  This 
is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is 
commonly fatal to the victim.  Nevertheless, the liability to a 
cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of 
life insurance.

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.


DAMN, v.  A word formerly much used by the Paphlagonians, the meaning 
of which is lost.  By the learned Dr. Dolabelly Gak it is believed to 
have been a term of satisfaction, implying the highest possible degree 
of mental tranquillity.  Professor Groke, on the contrary, thinks it 
expressed an emotion of tumultuous delight, because it so frequently 
occurs in combination with the word _jod_ or _god_, meaning "joy."  It 
would be with great diffidence that I should advance an opinion 
conflicting with that of either of these formidable authorities.

DANCE, v.i.  To leap about to the sound of tittering music, preferably 
with arms about your neighbor’s wife or daughter.  There are many 
kinds of dances, but all those requiring the participation of the two 
sexes have two characteristics in common:  they are conspicuously 
innocent, and warmly loved by the vicious.


    A savage beast which, when it sleeps,
        Man girds at and despises,
    But takes himself away by leaps
        And bounds when it arises.
                                                          Ambat Delaso

DARING, n.  One of the most conspicuous qualities of a man in 

DATARY, n.  A high ecclesiastic official of the Roman Catholic Church, 
whose important function is to brand the Pope’s bulls with the words 
_Datum Romae_.  He enjoys a princely revenue and the friendship of 

DAWN, n.  The time when men of reason go to bed.  Certain old men 
prefer to rise at about that time, taking a cold bath and a long walk 
with an empty stomach, and otherwise mortifying the flesh.  They then 
point with pride to these practices as the cause of their sturdy 
health and ripe years; the truth being that they are hearty and old, 
not because of their habits, but in spite of them.  The reason we find 
only robust persons doing this thing is that it has killed all the 
others who have tried it.

DAY, n.  A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.  This period 
is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day 
improper -- the former devoted to sins of business, the latter 
consecrated to the other sort.  These two kinds of social activity 

DEAD, adj.

    Done with the work of breathing; done
    With all the world; the mad race run
    Though to the end; the golden goal
    Attained and found to be a hole!
                                                        Squatol Johnes

DEBAUCHEE, n.  One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has 
had the misfortune to overtake it.

DEBT, n.  An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave- 

    As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet
    Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet,
    Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him,
    Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him;
    So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him,
    Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him,
    Grieves at his debt and studies to evade it,
    And finds at last he might as well have paid it.
                                                        Barlow S. Vode

DECALOGUE, n.  A series of commandments, ten in number -- just enough 
to permit an intelligent selection for observance, but not enough to 
embarrass the choice.  Following is the revised edition of the 
Decalogue, calculated for this meridian.

    Thou shalt no God but me adore:
    'Twere too expensive to have more.

    No images nor idols make
    For Robert Ingersoll to break.

    Take not God’s name in vain; select
    A time when it will have effect.

    Work not on Sabbath days at all,
    But go to see the teams play ball.

    Honor thy parents.  That creates
    For life insurance lower rates.

    Kill not, abet not those who kill;
    Thou shalt not pay thy butcher’s bill.

    Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife, unless
    Thine own thy neighbor doth caress

    Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete
    Successfully in business.  Cheat.

    Bear not false witness -- that is low --
    But "hear 'tis rumored so and so."

    Cover thou naught that thou hast not
    By hook or crook, or somehow, got.

DECIDE, v.i.  To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences 
over another set.

    A leaf was riven from a tree,
    "I mean to fall to earth," said he.

    The west wind, rising, made him veer.
    "Eastward," said he, "I now shall steer."

    The east wind rose with greater force.
    Said he:  "'Twere wise to change my course."

    With equal power they contend.
    He said:  "My judgment I suspend."

    Down died the winds; the leaf, elate,
    Cried:  "I've decided to fall straight."

    "First thoughts are best?"  That’s not the moral;
    Just choose your own and we'll not quarrel.

    Howe'er your choice may chance to fall,
    You'll have no hand in it at all.

DEFAME, v.t.  To lie about another.  To tell the truth about another.

DEFENCELESS, adj.  Unable to attack.

DEGENERATE, adj.  Less conspicuously admirable than one’s ancestors.  
The contemporaries of Homer were striking examples of degeneracy; it 
required ten of them to raise a rock or a riot that one of the heroes 
of the Trojan war could have raised with ease.  Homer never tires of 
sneering at "men who live in these degenerate days," which is perhaps 
why they suffered him to beg his bread -- a marked instance of 
returning good for evil, by the way, for if they had forbidden him he 
would certainly have starved.

DEGRADATION, n.  One of the stages of moral and social progress from 
private station to political preferment.

DEINOTHERIUM, n.  An extinct pachyderm that flourished when the 
Pterodactyl was in fashion.  The latter was a native of Ireland, its 
name being pronounced Terry Dactyl or Peter O'Dactyl, as the man 
pronouncing it may chance to have heard it spoken or seen it printed.

DEJEUNER, n.  The breakfast of an American who has been in Paris.  
Variously pronounced.

DELEGATION, n.  In American politics, an article of merchandise that 
comes in sets.

DELIBERATION, n.  The act of examining one’s bread to determine which 
side it is buttered on.

DELUGE, n.  A notable first experiment in baptism which washed away 
the sins (and sinners) of the world.

DELUSION, n.  The father of a most respectable family, comprising 
Enthusiasm, Affection, Self-denial, Faith, Hope, Charity and many 
other goodly sons and daughters.

    All hail, Delusion!  Were it not for thee
    The world turned topsy-turvy we should see;
    For Vice, respectable with cleanly fancies,
    Would fly abandoned Virtue’s gross advances.
                                                        Mumfrey Mappel

DENTIST, n.  A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, 
pulls coins out of your pocket.

DEPENDENT, adj.  Reliant upon another’s generosity for the support 
which you are not in a position to exact from his fears.

DEPUTY, n.  A male relative of an office-holder, or of his bondsman.  
The deputy is commonly a beautiful young man, with a red necktie and 
an intricate system of cobwebs extending from his nose to his desk.  
When accidentally struck by the janitor’s broom, he gives off a cloud 
of dust.

    "Chief Deputy," the Master cried,
    "To-day the books are to be tried
    By experts and accountants who
    Have been commissioned to go through
    Our office here, to see if we
    Have stolen injudiciously.
    Please have the proper entries made,
    The proper balances displayed,
    Conforming to the whole amount
    Of cash on hand -- which they will count.
    I've long admired your punctual way --
    Here at the break and close of day,
    Confronting in your chair the crowd
    Of business men, whose voices loud
    And gestures violent you quell
    By some mysterious, calm spell --
    Some magic lurking in your look
    That brings the noisiest to book
    And spreads a holy and profound
    Tranquillity o'er all around.
    So orderly all’s done that they
    Who came to draw remain to pay.
    But now the time demands, at last,
    That you employ your genius vast
    In energies more active.  Rise
    And shake the lightnings from your eyes;
    Inspire your underlings, and fling
    Your spirit into everything!"
    The Master’s hand here dealt a whack
    Upon the Deputy’s bent back,
    When straightway to the floor there fell
    A shrunken globe, a rattling shell
    A blackened, withered, eyeless head!
    The man had been a twelvemonth dead.
                                                       Jamrach Holobom

DESTINY, n.  A tyrant’s authority for crime and fool’s excuse for 

DIAGNOSIS, n.  A physician’s forecast of the disease by the patient’s 
pulse and purse.

DIAPHRAGM, n.  A muscular partition separating disorders of the chest 
from disorders of the bowels.

DIARY, n.  A daily record of that part of one’s life, which he can 
relate to himself without blushing.

    Hearst kept a diary wherein were writ
    All that he had of wisdom and of wit.
    So the Recording Angel, when Hearst died,
    Erased all entries of his own and cried:
    "I'll judge you by your diary."  Said Hearst:
    "Thank you; 'twill show you I am Saint the First" --
    Straightway producing, jubilant and proud,
    That record from a pocket in his shroud.
    The Angel slowly turned the pages o'er,
    Each stupid line of which he knew before,
    Glooming and gleaming as by turns he hit
    On Shallow sentiment and stolen wit;
    Then gravely closed the book and gave it back.
    "My friend, you've wandered from your proper track:
    You'd never be content this side the tomb --
    For big ideas Heaven has little room,
    And Hell’s no latitude for making mirth,"
    He said, and kicked the fellow back to earth.
                                                 "The Mad Philosopher"

DICTATOR, n.  The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of 
despotism to the plague of anarchy.

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.

DIE, n.  The singular of "dice."  We seldom hear the word, because 
there is a prohibitory proverb, "Never say die."  At long intervals, 
however, some one says:  "The die is cast," which is not true, for it 
is cut.  The word is found in an immortal couplet by that eminent poet 
and domestic economist, Senator Depew:

    A cube of cheese no larger than a die
    May bait the trap to catch a nibbling mie.

DIGESTION, n.  The conversion of victuals into virtues.  When the 
process is imperfect, vices are evolved instead -- a circumstance from 
which that wicked writer, Dr. Jeremiah Blenn, infers that the ladies 
are the greater sufferers from dyspepsia.

DIPLOMACY, n.  The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.

DISABUSE, v.t.  The present your neighbor with another and better 
error than the one which he has deemed it advantageous to embrace.

DISCRIMINATE, v.i.  To note the particulars in which one person or 
thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another.

DISCUSSION, n.  A method of confirming others in their errors.

DISOBEDIENCE, n.  The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.

DISOBEY, v.t.  To celebrate with an appropriate ceremony the maturity 
of a command.

    His right to govern me is clear as day,
    My duty manifest to disobey;
    And if that fit observance e'er I shut
    May I and duty be alike undone.
                                                         Israfel Brown

DISSEMBLE, v.i.  To put a clean shirt upon the character.

    Let us dissemble.

DISTANCE, n.  The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to 
call theirs, and keep.

DISTRESS, n.  A disease incurred by exposure to the prosperity of a 

DIVINATION, n.  The art of nosing out the occult.  Divination is of as 
many kinds as there are fruit-bearing varieties of the flowering dunce 
and the early fool.

DOG, n.  A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch 
the overflow and surplus of the world’s worship.  This Divine Being in 
some of his smaller and silkier incarnations takes, in the affection 
of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant.  The Dog 
is a survival -- an anachronism.  He toils not, neither does he spin, 
yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a door-mat all day long, 
sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means 
wherewith to purchase the idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned 
with a look of tolerant recognition.

DRAGOON, n.  A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal 
measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on 

DRAMATIST, n.  One who adapts plays from the French.

DRUIDS, n.  Priests and ministers of an ancient Celtic religion which 
did not disdain to employ the humble allurement of human sacrifice.  
Very little is now known about the Druids and their faith.  Pliny says 
their religion, originating in Britain, spread eastward as far as 
Persia.  Caesar says those who desired to study its mysteries went to 
Britain.  Caesar himself went to Britain, but does not appear to have 
obtained any high preferment in the Druidical Church, although his 
talent for human sacrifice was considerable.
    Druids performed their religious rites in groves, and knew nothing 
of church mortgages and the season-ticket system of pew rents.  They 
were, in short, heathens and -- as they were once complacently 
catalogued by a distinguished prelate of the Church of England -- 

DUCK-BILL, n.  Your account at your restaurant during the canvas-back 

DUEL, n.  A formal ceremony preliminary to the reconciliation of two 
enemies.  Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if 
awkwardly performed the most unexpected and deplorable consequences 
sometimes ensue.  A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel.

    That dueling’s a gentlemanly vice
        I hold; and wish that it had been my lot
        To live my life out in some favored spot --
    Some country where it is considered nice
    To split a rival like a fish, or slice
        A husband like a spud, or with a shot
        Bring down a debtor doubled in a knot
    And ready to be put upon the ice.
    Some miscreants there are, whom I do long
        To shoot, to stab, or some such way reclaim
    The scurvy rogues to better lives and manners,
    I seem to see them now -- a mighty throng.
        It looks as if to challenge _me_ they came,
    Jauntily marching with brass bands and banners!
                                                          Xamba Q. Dar

DULLARD, n.  A member of the reigning dynasty in letters and life.  
The Dullards came in with Adam, and being both numerous and sturdy 
have overrun the habitable world.  The secret of their power is their 
insensibility to blows; tickle them with a bludgeon and they laugh 
with a platitude.  The Dullards came originally from Boeotia, whence 
they were driven by stress of starvation, their dullness having 
blighted the crops.  For some centuries they infested Philistia, and 
many of them are called Philistines to this day.  In the turbulent 
times of the Crusades they withdrew thence and gradually overspread 
all Europe, occupying most of the high places in politics, art, 
literature, science and theology.  Since a detachment of Dullards came 
over with the Pilgrims in the _Mayflower_ and made a favorable report 
of the country, their increase by birth, immigration, and conversion 
has been rapid and steady.  According to the most trustworthy 
statistics the number of adult Dullards in the United States is but 
little short of thirty millions, including the statisticians.  The 
intellectual centre of the race is somewhere about Peoria, Illinois, 
but the New England Dullard is the most shockingly moral.

DUTY, n.  That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, 
along the line of desire.

    Sir Lavender Portwine, in favor at court,
    Was wroth at his master, who'd kissed Lady Port.
    His anger provoked him to take the king’s head,
    But duty prevailed, and he took the king’s bread,


EAT, v.i.  To perform successively (and successfully) the functions of 
mastication, humectation, and deglutition.
    "I was in the drawing-room, enjoying my dinner," said Brillat- 
Savarin, beginning an anecdote.  "What!" interrupted Rochebriant; 
"eating dinner in a drawing-room?"  "I must beg you to observe, 
monsieur," explained the great gastronome, "that I did not say I was 
eating my dinner, but enjoying it.  I had dined an hour before."

EAVESDROP, v.i.  Secretly to overhear a catalogue of the crimes and 
vices of another or yourself.

    A lady with one of her ears applied
    To an open keyhole heard, inside,
    Two female gossips in converse free --
    The subject engaging them was she.
    "I think," said one, "and my husband thinks
    That she’s a prying, inquisitive minx!"
    As soon as no more of it she could hear
    The lady, indignant, removed her ear.
    "I will not stay," she said, with a pout,
    "To hear my character lied about!"
                                                        Gopete Sherany

ECCENTRICITY, n.  A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ 
it to accentuate their incapacity.

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

EDIBLE, adj.  Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a 
toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man 
to a worm.

EDITOR, n.  A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, 
Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely 
virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the 
virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the 
splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he 
resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the 
tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as 
the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star.  
Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of 
thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the 
Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the 
editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to 
suit.  And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard 
the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines 
of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack 
up some pathos.

    O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought,
        A gilded impostor is he.
    Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought,
                His crown is brass,
                Himself an ass,
        And his power is fiddle-dee-dee.
    Prankily, crankily prating of naught,
    Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought.
        Public opinion’s camp-follower he,
        Thundering, blundering, plundering free.
    Respected contemporaree!
                                                      J.H. Bumbleshook

EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the 
foolish their lack of understanding.

EFFECT, n.  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.

EGOTIST, n.  A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in 

    Megaceph, chosen to serve the State
    In the halls of legislative debate,
    One day with all his credentials came
    To the capitol’s door and announced his name.
    The doorkeeper looked, with a comical twist
    Of the face, at the eminent egotist,
    And said:  "Go away, for we settle here
    All manner of questions, knotty and queer,
    And we cannot have, when the speaker demands
    To be told how every member stands,
    A man who to all things under the sky
    Assents by eternally voting 'I'."

EJECTION, n.  An approved remedy for the disease of garrulity.  It is 
also much used in cases of extreme poverty.

ELECTOR, n.  One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man 
of another man’s choice.

ELECTRICITY, n.  The power that causes all natural phenomena not known 
to be caused by something else.  It is the same thing as lightning, 
and its famous attempt to strike Dr. Franklin is one of the most 
picturesque incidents in that great and good man’s career.  The memory 
of Dr. Franklin is justly held in great reverence, particularly in 
France, where a waxen effigy of him was recently on exhibition, 
bearing the following touching account of his life and services to 

        "Monsieur Franqulin, inventor of electricity.  This 
    illustrious savant, after having made several voyages around the 
    world, died on the Sandwich Islands and was devoured by savages, 
    of whom not a single fragment was ever recovered."

    Electricity seems destined to play a most important part in the 
arts and industries.  The question of its economical application to 
some purposes is still unsettled, but experiment has already proved 
that it will propel a street car better than a gas jet and give more 
light than a horse.

ELEGY, n.  A composition in verse, in which, without employing any of 
the methods of humor, the writer aims to produce in the reader’s mind 
the dampest kind of dejection.  The most famous English example begins 
somewhat like this:

    The cur foretells the knell of parting day;
        The loafing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
    The wise man homeward plods; I only stay
        To fiddle-faddle in a minor key.

ELOQUENCE, n.  The art of orally persuading fools that white is the 
color that it appears to be.  It includes the gift of making any color 
appear white.

ELYSIUM, n.  An imaginary delightful country which the ancients 
foolishly believed to be inhabited by the spirits of the good.  This 
ridiculous and mischievous fable was swept off the face of the earth 
by the early Christians -- may their souls be happy in Heaven!

EMANCIPATION, n.  A bondman’s change from the tyranny of another to 
the despotism of himself.

    He was a slave:  at word he went and came;
        His iron collar cut him to the bone.
    Then Liberty erased his owner’s name,
        Tightened the rivets and inscribed his own.

EMBALM, v.i.  To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which 
it feeds.  By embalming their dead and thereby deranging the natural 
balance between animal and vegetable life, the Egyptians made their 
once fertile and populous country barren and incapable of supporting 
more than a meagre crew.  The modern metallic burial casket is a step 
in the same direction, and many a dead man who ought now to be 
ornamenting his neighbor’s lawn as a tree, or enriching his table as a 
bunch of radishes, is doomed to a long inutility.  We shall get him 
after awhile if we are spared, but in the meantime the violet and rose 
are languishing for a nibble at his _glutoeus maximus_.

EMOTION, n.  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.

ENCOMIAST, n.  A special (but not particular) kind of liar.

END, n.  The position farthest removed on either hand from the 

    The man was perishing apace
        Who played the tambourine;
    The seal of death was on his face --
        'Twas pallid, for 'twas clean.

    "This is the end," the sick man said
        In faint and failing tones.
    A moment later he was dead,
        And Tambourine was Bones.
                                                         Tinley Roquot

ENOUGH, pro.  All there is in the world if you like it.

    Enough is as good as a feast -- for that matter
    Enougher’s as good as a feast for the platter.
                                                      Arbely C. Strunk

ENTERTAINMENT, n.  Any kind of amusement whose inroads stop short of 
death by injection.

ENTHUSIASM, n.  A distemper of youth, curable by small doses of 
repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.  
Byron, who recovered long enough to call it "entuzy-muzy," had a 
relapse, which carried him off -- to Missolonghi.

ENVELOPE, n.  The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the 
husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter.

ENVY, n.  Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity.

EPAULET, n.  An ornamented badge, serving to distinguish a military 
officer from the enemy -- that is to say, from the officer of lower 
rank to whom his death would give promotion.

EPICURE, n.  An opponent of Epicurus, an abstemious philosopher who, 
holding that pleasure should be the chief aim of man, wasted no time 
in gratification from the senses.

EPIGRAM, n.  A short, sharp saying in prose or verse, frequently 
characterize by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom.  
Following are some of the more notable epigrams of the learned and 
ingenious Dr. Jamrach Holobom:

        We know better the needs of ourselves than of others.  To 
    serve oneself is economy of administration.

        In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a 
    nightingale.  Diversity of character is due to their unequal 

        There are three sexes; males, females and girls.

        Beauty in women and distinction in men are alike in this:  
    they seem to be the unthinking a kind of credibility.

        Women in love are less ashamed than men.  They have less to be 
    ashamed of.

        While your friend holds you affectionately by both your hands 
    you are safe, for you can watch both his.

EPITAPH, n.  An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired 
by death have a retroactive effect.  Following is a touching example:

    Here lie the bones of Parson Platt,
    Wise, pious, humble and all that,
    Who showed us life as all should live it;
    Let that be said -- and God forgive it!

ERUDITION, n.  Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

    So wide his erudition’s mighty span,
    He knew Creation’s origin and plan
    And only came by accident to grief --
    He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief.
                                                           Romach Pute

ESOTERIC, adj.  Very particularly abstruse and consummately occult.  
The ancient philosophies were of two kinds, -- _exoteric_, those that 
the philosophers themselves could partly understand, and _esoteric_, 
those that nobody could understand.  It is the latter that have most 
profoundly affected modern thought and found greatest acceptance in 
our time.

ETHNOLOGY, n.  The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, 
as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and 

EUCHARIST, n.  A sacred feast of the religious sect of Theophagi.
    A dispute once unhappily arose among the members of this sect as 
to what it was that they ate.  In this controversy some five hundred 
thousand have already been slain, and the question is still unsettled.

EULOGY, n.  Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth 
and power, or the consideration to be dead.

EVANGELIST, n.  A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious 
sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of 
our neighbors.

EVERLASTING, adj.  Lasting forever.  It is with no small diffidence 
that I venture to offer this brief and elementary definition, for I am 
not unaware of the existence of a bulky volume by a sometime Bishop of 
Worcester, entitled, _A Partial Definition of the Word "Everlasting," 
as Used in the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures_.  His book 
was once esteemed of great authority in the Anglican Church, and is 
still, I understand, studied with pleasure to the mind and profit of 
the soul.

EXCEPTION, n.  A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other 
things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc.  "The 
exception proves the rule" is an expression constantly upon the lips 
of the ignorant, who parrot it from one another with never a thought 
of its absurdity.  In the Latin, "_Exceptio probat regulam_" means 
that the exception _tests_ the rule, puts it to the proof, not 
_confirms_ it.  The malefactor who drew the meaning from this 
excellent dictum and substituted a contrary one of his own exerted an 
evil power which appears to be immortal.

EXCESS, n.  In morals, an indulgence that enforces by appropriate 
penalties the law of moderation.

    Hail, high Excess -- especially in wine,
        To thee in worship do I bend the knee
        Who preach abstemiousness unto me --
    My skull thy pulpit, as my paunch thy shrine.
    Precept on precept, aye, and line on line,
        Could ne'er persuade so sweetly to agree
        With reason as thy touch, exact and free,
    Upon my forehead and along my spine.
    At thy command eschewing pleasure’s cup,
        With the hot grape I warm no more my wit;
        When on thy stool of penitence I sit
    I'm quite converted, for I can't get up.
    Ungrateful he who afterward would falter
    To make new sacrifices at thine altar!


    This "excommunication" is a word
    In speech ecclesiastical oft heard,
    And means the damning, with bell, book and candle,
    Some sinner whose opinions are a scandal --
    A rite permitting Satan to enslave him
    Forever, and forbidding Christ to save him.
                                                            Gat Huckle

EXECUTIVE, n.  An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to 
enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the 
judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of 
no effect.  Following is an extract from an old book entitled, _The 
Lunarian Astonished_ -- Pfeiffer & Co., Boston, 1803:

    LUNARIAN:  Then when your Congress has passed a law it goes 
        directly to the Supreme Court in order that it may at once be 
        known whether it is constitutional?
    TERRESTRIAN:  O no; it does not require the approval of the 
        Supreme Court until having perhaps been enforced for many 
        years somebody objects to its operation against himself -- I 
        mean his client.  The President, if he approves it, begins to 
        execute it at once.
    LUNARIAN:  Ah, the executive power is a part of the legislative.  
        Do your policemen also have to approve the local ordinances 
        that they enforce?
    TERRESTRIAN:  Not yet -- at least not in their character of 
        constables.  Generally speaking, though, all laws require the 
        approval of those whom they are intended to restrain.
    LUNARIAN:  I see.  The death warrant is not valid until signed by 
        the murderer.
    TERRESTRIAN:  My friend, you put it too strongly; we are not so 
    LUNARIAN:  But this system of maintaining an expensive judicial 
        machinery to pass upon the validity of laws only after they 
        have long been executed, and then only when brought before the 
        court by some private person -- does it not cause great 
    TERRESTRIAN:  It does.
    LUNARIAN:  Why then should not your laws, previously to being 
        executed, be validated, not by the signature of your 
        President, but by that of the Chief Justice of the Supreme 
    TERRESTRIAN:  There is no precedent for any such course.
    LUNARIAN:  Precedent.  What is that?
    TERRESTRIAN:  It has been defined by five hundred lawyers in three 
        volumes each.  So how can any one know?

EXHORT, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another 
upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.

EXILE, n.  One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not 
an ambassador.
    An English sea-captain being asked if he had read "The Exile of 
Erin," replied:  "No, sir, but I should like to anchor on it."  Years 
afterwards, when he had been hanged as a pirate after a career of 
unparalleled atrocities, the following memorandum was found in the 
ship’s log that he had kept at the time of his reply:

    Aug. 3d, 1842.  Made a joke on the ex-Isle of Erin.  Coldly 
    received.  War with the whole world!


    A transient, horrible, fantastic dream,
    Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem:
    From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge
    Of our bedfellow Death, and cry:  "O fudge!"

EXPERIENCE, n.  The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an 
undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.

    To one who, journeying through night and fog,
    Is mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog,
    Experience, like the rising of the dawn,
    Reveals the path that he should not have gone.
                                                        Joel Frad Bink

EXPOSTULATION, n.  One of the many methods by which fools prefer to 
lose their friends.

EXTINCTION, n.  The raw material out of which theology created the 
future state.


FAIRY, n.  A creature, variously fashioned and endowed, that formerly 
inhabited the meadows and forests.  It was nocturnal in its habits, 
and somewhat addicted to dancing and the theft of children.  The 
fairies are now believed by naturalist to be extinct, though a 
clergyman of the Church of England saw three near Colchester as lately 
as 1855, while passing through a park after dining with the lord of 
the manor.  The sight greatly staggered him, and he was so affected 
that his account of it was incoherent.  In the year 1807 a troop of 
fairies visited a wood near Aix and carried off the daughter of a 
peasant, who had been seen to enter it with a bundle of clothing.  The 
son of a wealthy _bourgeois_ disappeared about the same time, but 
afterward returned.  He had seen the abduction been in pursuit of the 
fairies.  Justinian Gaux, a writer of the fourteenth century, avers 
that so great is the fairies' power of transformation that he saw one 
change itself into two opposing armies and fight a battle with great 
slaughter, and that the next day, after it had resumed its original 
shape and gone away, there were seven hundred bodies of the slain 
which the villagers had to bury.  He does not say if any of the 
wounded recovered.  In the time of Henry III, of England, a law was 
made which prescribed the death penalty for "Kyllynge, wowndynge, or 
mamynge" a fairy, and it was universally respected.

FAITH, n.  Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks 
without knowledge, of things without parallel.

FAMOUS, adj.  Conspicuously miserable.

    Done to a turn on the iron, behold
        Him who to be famous aspired.
    Content?  Well, his grill has a plating of gold,
        And his twistings are greatly admired.
                                                       Hassan Brubuddy

FASHION, n.  A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.

    A king there was who lost an eye
        In some excess of passion;
    And straight his courtiers all did try
        To follow the new fashion.

    Each dropped one eyelid when before
        The throne he ventured, thinking
    'Twould please the king.  That monarch swore
        He'd slay them all for winking.

    What should they do?  They were not hot
        To hazard such disaster;
    They dared not close an eye -- dared not
        See better than their master.

    Seeing them lacrymose and glum,
        A leech consoled the weepers:
    He spread small rags with liquid gum
        And covered half their peepers.

    The court all wore the stuff, the flame
        Of royal anger dying.
    That’s how court-plaster got its name
        Unless I'm greatly lying.
                                                            Naramy Oof

FEAST, n.  A festival.  A religious celebration usually signalized by 
gluttony and drunkenness, frequently in honor of some holy person 
distinguished for abstemiousness.  In the Roman Catholic Church 
feasts are "movable" and "immovable," but the celebrants are uniformly 
immovable until they are full.  In their earliest development these 
entertainments took the form of feasts for the dead; such were held by 
the Greeks, under the name _Nemeseia_, by the Aztecs and Peruvians, 
as in modern times they are popular with the Chinese; though it is 
believed that the ancient dead, like the modern, were light eaters.  
Among the many feasts of the Romans was the _Novemdiale_, which was 
held, according to Livy, whenever stones fell from heaven.

FELON, n.  A person of greater enterprise than discretion, who in 
embracing an opportunity has formed an unfortunate attachment.

FEMALE, n.  One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.

    The Maker, at Creation’s birth,
    With living things had stocked the earth.
    From elephants to bats and snails,
    They all were good, for all were males.
    But when the Devil came and saw
    He said:  "By Thine eternal law
    Of growth, maturity, decay,
    These all must quickly pass away
    And leave untenanted the earth
    Unless Thou dost establish birth" --
    Then tucked his head beneath his wing
    To laugh -- he had no sleeve -- the thing
    With deviltry did so accord,
    That he'd suggested to the Lord.
    The Master pondered this advice,
    Then shook and threw the fateful dice
    Wherewith all matters here below
    Are ordered, and observed the throw;
    Then bent His head in awful state,
    Confirming the decree of Fate.
    From every part of earth anew
    The conscious dust consenting flew,
    While rivers from their courses rolled
    To make it plastic for the mould.
    Enough collected (but no more,
    For niggard Nature hoards her store)
    He kneaded it to flexible clay,
    While Nick unseen threw some away.
    And then the various forms He cast,
    Gross organs first and finer last;
    No one at once evolved, but all
    By even touches grew and small
    Degrees advanced, till, shade by shade,
    To match all living things He'd made
    Females, complete in all their parts
    Except (His clay gave out) the hearts.
    "No matter," Satan cried; "with speed
    I'll fetch the very hearts they need" --
    So flew away and soon brought back
    The number needed, in a sack.
    That night earth range with sounds of strife --
    Ten million males each had a wife;
    That night sweet Peace her pinions spread
    O'er Hell -- ten million devils dead!

FIB, n.  A lie that has not cut its teeth.  An habitual liar’s nearest 
approach to truth:  the perigee of his eccentric orbit.

    When David said:  "All men are liars," Dave,
        Himself a liar, fibbed like any thief.
        Perhaps he thought to weaken disbelief
    By proof that even himself was not a slave
    To Truth; though I suspect the aged knave
        Had been of all her servitors the chief
        Had he but known a fig’s reluctant leaf
    Is more than e'er she wore on land or wave.
    No, David served not Naked Truth when he
        Struck that sledge-hammer blow at all his race;
            Nor did he hit the nail upon the head:
    For reason shows that it could never be,
        And the facts contradict him to his face.
            Men are not liars all, for some are dead.
                                                        Bartle Quinker

FICKLENESS, n.  The iterated satiety of an enterprising affection.

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

    To Rome said Nero:  "If to smoke you turn
    I shall not cease to fiddle while you burn."
    To Nero Rome replied:  "Pray do your worst,
    'Tis my excuse that you were fiddling first."
                                                            Orm Pludge

FIDELITY, n.  A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.

FINANCE, n.  The art or science of managing revenues and resources for 
the best advantage of the manager.  The pronunciation of this word 
with the i long and the accent on the first syllable is one of 
America’s most precious discoveries and possessions.

FLAG, n.  A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and 
ships.  It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one 
sees and vacant lots in London -- "Rubbish may be shot here."

FLESH, n.  The Second Person of the secular Trinity.

FLOP, v.  Suddenly to change one’s opinions and go over to another 
party.  The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, 
who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our 
partisan journals.

FLY-SPECK, n.  The prototype of punctuation.  It is observed by 
Garvinus that the systems of punctuation in use by the various 
literary nations depended originally upon the social habits and 
general diet of the flies infesting the several countries.  These 
creatures, which have always been distinguished for a neighborly and 
companionable familiarity with authors, liberally or niggardly 
embellish the manuscripts in process of growth under the pen, 
according to their bodily habit, bringing out the sense of the work by 
a species of interpretation superior to, and independent of, the 
writer’s powers.  The "old masters" of literature -- that is to say, 
the early writers whose work is so esteemed by later scribes and 
critics in the same language -- never punctuated at all, but worked 
right along free-handed, without that abruption of the thought which 
comes from the use of points.  (We observe the same thing in children 
to-day, whose usage in this particular is a striking and beautiful 
instance of the law that the infancy of individuals reproduces the 
methods and stages of development characterizing the infancy of 
races.)  In the work of these primitive scribes all the punctuation is 
found, by the modern investigator with his optical instruments and 
chemical tests, to have been inserted by the writers' ingenious and 
serviceable collaborator, the common house-fly -- _Musca maledicta_.  
In transcribing these ancient MSS, for the purpose of either making 
the work their own or preserving what they naturally regard as divine 
revelations, later writers reverently and accurately copy whatever 
marks they find upon the papyrus or parchment, to the unspeakable 
enhancement of the lucidity of the thought and value of the work.  
Writers contemporary with the copyists naturally avail themselves of 
the obvious advantages of these marks in their own work, and with such 
assistance as the flies of their own household may be willing to 
grant, frequently rival and sometimes surpass the older compositions, 
in respect at least of punctuation, which is no small glory.  Fully to 
understand the important services that flies perform to literature it 
is only necessary to lay a page of some popular novelist alongside a 
saucer of cream-and-molasses in a sunny room and observe "how the wit 
brightens and the style refines" in accurate proportion to the 
duration of exposure.

FOLLY, n.  That "gift and faculty divine" whose creative and 
controlling energy inspires Man’s mind, guides his actions and adorns 
his life.

    Folly! although Erasmus praised thee once
        In a thick volume, and all authors known,
        If not thy glory yet thy power have shown,
    Deign to take homage from thy son who hunts
    Through all thy maze his brothers, fool and dunce,
        To mend their lives and to sustain his own,
        However feebly be his arrows thrown,

    Howe'er each hide the flying weapons blunts.
    All-Father Folly! be it mine to raise,
        With lusty lung, here on his western strand
        With all thine offspring thronged from every land,
    Thyself inspiring me, the song of praise.
    And if too weak, I'll hire, to help me bawl,
    Dick Watson Gilder, gravest of us all.
                                                     Aramis Loto Frope

FOOL, n.  A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation 
and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity.  He is 
omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscience, omnipotent.  He it was 
who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the 
telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences.  He created 
patriotism and taught the nations war -- founded theology, philosophy, 
law, medicine and Chicago.  He established monarchical and republican 
government.  He is from everlasting to everlasting -- such as 
creation’s dawn beheld he fooleth now.  In the morning of time he sang 
upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the 
procession of being.  His grandmotherly hand was warmly tucked-in the 
set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man’s evening 
meal of milk-and-morality and turns down the covers of the universal 
grave.  And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of 
eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human 


    "Force is but might," the teacher said --
        "That definition’s just."
    The boy said naught but through instead,
    Remembering his pounded head:
        "Force is not might but must!"

FOREFINGER, n.  The finger commonly used in pointing out two 

FOREORDINATION, n.  This looks like an easy word to define, but when I 
consider that pious and learned theologians have spent long lives in 
explaining it, and written libraries to explain their explanations; 
when I remember the nations have been divided and bloody battles 
caused by the difference between foreordination and predestination, 
and that millions of treasure have been expended in the effort to 
prove and disprove its compatibility with freedom of the will and the 
efficacy of prayer, praise, and a religious life, -- recalling these 
awful facts in the history of the word, I stand appalled before the 
mighty problem of its signification, abase my spiritual eyes, fearing 
to contemplate its portentous magnitude, reverently uncover and humbly 
refer it to His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons and His Grace Bishop Potter.

FORGETFULNESS, n.  A gift of God bestowed upon doctors in compensation 
for their destitution of conscience.

FORK, n.  An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead 
animals into the mouth.  Formerly the knife was employed for this 
purpose, and by many worthy persons is still thought to have many 
advantages over the other tool, which, however, they do not altogether 
reject, but use to assist in charging the knife.  The immunity of 
these persons from swift and awful death is one of the most striking 
proofs of God’s mercy to those that hate Him.

FORMA PAUPERIS.  [Latin]  In the character of a poor person -- a 
method by which a litigant without money for lawyers is considerately 
permitted to lose his case.

    When Adam long ago in Cupid’s awful court
        (For Cupid ruled ere Adam was invented)
    Sued for Eve’s favor, says an ancient law report,
        He stood and pleaded unhabilimented.

    "You sue _in forma pauperis_, I see," Eve cried;
        "Actions can't here be that way prosecuted."
    So all poor Adam’s motions coldly were denied:
        He went away -- as he had come -- nonsuited.

FRANKALMOIGNE, n.  The tenure by which a religious corporation holds 
lands on condition of praying for the soul of the donor.  In mediaeval 
times many of the wealthiest fraternities obtained their estates in 
this simple and cheap manner, and once when Henry VIII of England sent 
an officer to confiscate certain vast possessions which a fraternity 
of monks held by frankalmoigne, "What!" said the Prior, "would you 
master stay our benefactor’s soul in Purgatory?"  "Ay," said the 
officer, coldly, "an ye will not pray him thence for naught he must 
e'en roast."  "But look you, my son," persisted the good man, "this 
act hath rank as robbery of God!"  "Nay, nay, good father, my master 
the king doth but deliver him from the manifold temptations of too 
great wealth."

FREEBOOTER, n.  A conqueror in a small way of business, whose 
annexations lack of the sanctifying merit of magnitude.

FREEDOM, n.  Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half 
dozen of restraint’s infinite multitude of methods.  A political 
condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual 
monopoly.  Liberty.  The distinction between freedom and liberty is 
not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a 
living specimen of either.

    Freedom, as every schoolboy knows,
        Once shrieked as Kosciusko fell;
    On every wind, indeed, that blows
            I hear her yell.

    She screams whenever monarchs meet,
        And parliaments as well,
    To bind the chains about her feet
            And toll her knell.

    And when the sovereign people cast
        The votes they cannot spell,
    Upon the pestilential blast
            Her clamors swell.

    For all to whom the power’s given
        To sway or to compel,
    Among themselves apportion Heaven
            And give her Hell.
                                                          Blary O'Gary

FREEMASONS, n.  An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and 
fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II, 
among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the 
dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces 
all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming 
up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of 
Chaos and Formless Void.  The order was founded at different times by 
Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucious, 
Thothmes, and Buddha.  Its emblems and symbols have been found in the 
Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the 
Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the 
Egyptian Pyramids -- always by a Freemason.

FRIENDLESS, adj.  Having no favors to bestow.  Destitute of fortune.  
Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.

FRIENDSHIP, n.  A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but 
only one in foul.

    The sea was calm and the sky was blue;
    Merrily, merrily sailed we two.
        (High barometer maketh glad.)
    On the tipsy ship, with a dreadful shout,
    The tempest descended and we fell out.
        (O the walking is nasty bad!)
                                                     Armit Huff Bettle

FROG, n.  A reptile with edible legs.  The first mention of frogs in 
profane literature is in Homer’s narrative of the war between them and 
the mice.  Skeptical persons have doubted Homer’s authorship of the 
work, but the learned, ingenious and industrious Dr. Schliemann has 
set the question forever at rest by uncovering the bones of the slain 
frogs.  One of the forms of moral suasion by which Pharaoh was 
besought to favor the Israelities was a plague of frogs, but Pharaoh, 
who liked them _fricasees_, remarked, with truly oriental stoicism, 
that he could stand it as long as the frogs and the Jews could; so the 
programme was changed.  The frog is a diligent songster, having a good 
voice but no ear.  The libretto of his favorite opera, as written by 
Aristophanes, is brief, simple and effective -- "brekekex-koax"; the 
music is apparently by that eminent composer, Richard Wagner.  Horses 
have a frog in each hoof -- a thoughtful provision of nature, enabling 
them to shine in a hurdle race.

FRYING-PAN, n.  One part of the penal apparatus employed in that 
punitive institution, a woman’s kitchen.  The frying-pan was invented 
by Calvin, and by him used in cooking span-long infants that had died 
without baptism; and observing one day the horrible torment of a tramp 
who had incautiously pulled a fried babe from the waste-dump and 
devoured it, it occurred to the great divine to rob death of its 
terrors by introducing the frying-pan into every household in Geneva.  
Thence it spread to all corners of the world, and has been of 
invaluable assistance in the propagation of his sombre faith.  The 
following lines (said to be from the pen of his Grace Bishop Potter) 
seem to imply that the usefulness of this utensil is not limited to 
this world; but as the consequences of its employment in this life 
reach over into the life to come, so also itself may be found on the 
other side, rewarding its devotees:

    Old Nick was summoned to the skies.
        Said Peter:  "Your intentions
    Are good, but you lack enterprise
        Concerning new inventions.

    "Now, broiling in an ancient plan
        Of torment, but I hear it
    Reported that the frying-pan
        Sears best the wicked spirit.

    "Go get one -- fill it up with fat --
        Fry sinners brown and good in't."
    "I know a trick worth two o' that,"
        Said Nick -- "I'll cook their food in't."

FUNERAL, n.  A pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by 
enriching the undertaker, and strengthen our grief by an expenditure 
that deepens our groans and doubles our tears.

    The savage dies -- they sacrifice a horse
    To bear to happy hunting-grounds the corse.
    Our friends expire -- we make the money fly
    In hope their souls will chase it to the sky.
                                                            Jex Wopley

FUTURE, n.  That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our 
friends are true and our happiness is assured.


GALLOWS, n.  A stage for the performance of miracle plays, in which 
the leading actor is translated to heaven.  In this country the 
gallows is chiefly remarkable for the number of persons who escape it.

    Whether on the gallows high
        Or where blood flows the reddest,
    The noblest place for man to die --
        Is where he died the deadest.
                                                            (Old play)

GARGOYLE, n.  A rain-spout projecting from the eaves of mediaeval 
buildings, commonly fashioned into a grotesque caricature of some 
personal enemy of the architect or owner of the building.  This was 
especially the case in churches and ecclesiastical structures 
generally, in which the gargoyles presented a perfect rogues' gallery 
of local heretics and controversialists.  Sometimes when a new dean 
and chapter were installed the old gargoyles were removed and others 
substituted having a closer relation to the private animosities of the 
new incumbents.

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

GENEROUS, adj.  Originally this word meant noble by birth and was 
rightly applied to a great multitude of persons.  It now means noble 
by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.

GENEALOGY, n.  An account of one’s descent from an ancestor who did 
not particularly care to trace his own.

GENTEEL, adj.  Refined, after the fashion of a gent.

    Observe with care, my son, the distinction I reveal:
    A gentleman is gentle and a gent genteel.
    Heed not the definitions your "Unabridged" presents,
    For dictionary makers are generally gents.

GEOGRAPHER, n.  A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between 
the outside of the world and the inside.

    Habeam, geographer of wide reknown,
    Native of Abu-Keber’s ancient town,
    In passing thence along the river Zam
    To the adjacent village of Xelam,
    Bewildered by the multitude of roads,
    Got lost, lived long on migratory toads,
    Then from exposure miserably died,
    And grateful travelers bewailed their guide.
                                                        Henry Haukhorn

GEOLOGY, n.  The science of the earth’s crust -- to which, doubtless, 
will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up 
garrulous out of a well.  The geological formations of the globe 
already noted are catalogued thus:  The Primary, or lower one, 
consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, 
antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors.  The 
Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles.  The Tertiary 
comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy 
boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, 
anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.

GHOST, n.  The outward and visible sign of an inward fear.

            He saw a ghost.
    It occupied -- that dismal thing! --
    The path that he was following.
    Before he'd time to stop and fly,
    An earthquake trifled with the eye
            That saw a ghost.
    He fell as fall the early good;
    Unmoved that awful vision stood.
    The stars that danced before his ken
    He wildly brushed away, and then
            He saw a post.
                                                      Jared Macphester

    Accounting for the uncommon behavior of ghosts, Heine mentions 
somebody’s ingenious theory to the effect that they are as much 
afraid of us as we of them.  Not quite, if I may judge from such 
tables of comparative speed as I am able to compile from memories of 
my own experience.
    There is one insuperable obstacle to a belief in ghosts.  A ghost 
never comes naked:  he appears either in a winding-sheet or "in his 
habit as he lived."  To believe in him, then, is to believe that not 
only have the dead the power to make themselves visible after there is 
nothing left of them, but that the same power inheres in textile 
fabrics.  Supposing the products of the loom to have this ability, 
what object would they have in exercising it?  And why does not the 
apparition of a suit of clothes sometimes walk abroad without a ghost 
in it?  These be riddles of significance.  They reach away down and 
get a convulsive grip on the very tap-root of this flourishing faith.

GHOUL, n.  A demon addicted to the reprehensible habit of devouring 
the dead.  The existence of ghouls has been disputed by that class of 
controversialists who are more concerned to deprive the world of 
comforting beliefs than to give it anything good in their place.  In 
1640 Father Secchi saw one in a cemetery near Florence and frightened 
it away with the sign of the cross.  He describes it as gifted with 
many heads an an uncommon allowance of limbs, and he saw it in more 
than one place at a time.  The good man was coming away from dinner at 
the time and explains that if he had not been "heavy with eating" he 
would have seized the demon at all hazards.  Atholston relates that a 
ghoul was caught by some sturdy peasants in a churchyard at Sudbury 
and ducked in a horsepond.  (He appears to think that so distinguished 
a criminal should have been ducked in a tank of rosewater.)  The water 
turned at once to blood "and so contynues unto ys daye."  The pond has 
since been bled with a ditch.  As late as the beginning of the 
fourteenth century a ghoul was cornered in the crypt of the cathedral 
at Amiens and the whole population surrounded the place.  Twenty armed 
men with a priest at their head, bearing a crucifix, entered and 
captured the ghoul, which, thinking to escape by the stratagem, had 
transformed itself to the semblance of a well known citizen, but was 
nevertheless hanged, drawn and quartered in the midst of hideous 
popular orgies.  The citizen whose shape the demon had assumed was so 
affected by the sinister occurrence that he never again showed himself 
in Amiens and his fate remains a mystery.

GLUTTON, n.  A person who escapes the evils of moderation by 
committing dyspepsia.

GNOME, n.  In North-European mythology, a dwarfish imp inhabiting the 
interior parts of the earth and having special custody of mineral 
treasures.  Bjorsen, who died in 1765, says gnomes were common enough 
in the southern parts of Sweden in his boyhood, and he frequently saw 
them scampering on the hills in the evening twilight.  Ludwig 
Binkerhoof saw three as recently as 1792, in the Black Forest, and 
Sneddeker avers that in 1803 they drove a party of miners out of a 
Silesian mine.  Basing our computations upon data supplied by these 
statements, we find that the gnomes were probably extinct as early as 

GNOSTICS, n.  A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion 
between the early Christians and the Platonists.  The former would not 
go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin 
of the fusion managers.

GNU, n.  An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state 
resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag.  In its wild condition it is 
something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.

    A hunter from Kew caught a distant view
        Of a peacefully meditative gnu,
    And he said:  "I'll pursue, and my hands imbrue
        In its blood at a closer interview."
    But that beast did ensue and the hunter it threw
        O'er the top of a palm that adjacent grew;
    And he said as he flew:  "It is well I withdrew
        Ere, losing my temper, I wickedly slew
        That really meritorious gnu."
                                                           Jarn Leffer

GOOD, adj.  Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer.  
Alive, sir, to the advantages of letting him alone.

GOOSE, n.  A bird that supplies quills for writing.  These, by some 
occult process of nature, are penetrated and suffused with various 
degrees of the bird’s intellectual energies and emotional character, 
so that when inked and drawn mechanically across paper by a person 
called an "author," there results a very fair and accurate transcript 
of the fowl’s thought and feeling.  The difference in geese, as 
discovered by this ingenious method, is considerable:  many are found 
to have only trivial and insignificant powers, but some are seen to be 
very great geese indeed.


    The Gorgon was a maiden bold
    Who turned to stone the Greeks of old
    That looked upon her awful brow.
    We dig them out of ruins now,
    And swear that workmanship so bad
    Proves all the ancient sculptors mad.

GOUT, n.  A physician’s name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.

GRACES, n.  Three beautiful goddesses, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, 
who attended upon Venus, serving without salary.  They were at no 
expense for board and clothing, for they ate nothing to speak of and 
dressed according to the weather, wearing whatever breeze happened to 
be blowing.

GRAMMAR, n.  A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet 
for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to 


    Hail noble fruit! -- by Homer sung,
        Anacreon and Khayyam;
    Thy praise is ever on the tongue
        Of better men than I am.

    The lyre in my hand has never swept,
        The song I cannot offer:
    My humbler service pray accept --
        I'll help to kill the scoffer.

    The water-drinkers and the cranks
        Who load their skins with liquor --
    I'll gladly bear their belly-tanks
        And tap them with my sticker.

    Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools
        When e'er we let the wine rest.
    Here’s death to Prohibition’s fools,
        And every kind of vine-pest!
                                                       Jamrach Holobom

GRAPESHOT, n.  An argument which the future is preparing in answer to 
the demands of American Socialism.

GRAVE, n.  A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of 
the medical student.

    Beside a lonely grave I stood --
        With brambles 'twas encumbered;
    The winds were moaning in the wood,
        Unheard by him who slumbered,

    A rustic standing near, I said:
        "He cannot hear it blowing!"
    "'Course not," said he:  "the feller’s dead --
        He can't hear nowt [sic] that’s going."

    "Too true," I said; "alas, too true --
        No sound his sense can quicken!"
    "Well, mister, wot is that to you? --
        The deadster ain't a-kickin'."

    I knelt and prayed:  "O Father, smile
        On him, and mercy show him!"
    That countryman looked on the while,
        And said:  "Ye didn't know him."
                                                         Pobeter Dunko

GRAVITATION, n.  The tendency of all bodies to approach one another 
with a strength proportion to the quantity of matter they contain -- 
the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength 
of their tendency to approach one another.  This is a lovely and 
edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, 
makes B the proof of A.

GREAT, adj.

    "I'm great," the Lion said -- "I reign
    The monarch of the wood and plain!"

    The Elephant replied:  "I'm great --
    No quadruped can match my weight!"

    "I'm great -- no animal has half
    So long a neck!" said the Giraffe.

    "I'm great," the Kangaroo said -- "see
    My femoral muscularity!"

    The 'Possum said:  "I'm great -- behold,
    My tail is lithe and bald and cold!"

    An Oyster fried was understood
    To say:  "I'm great because I'm good!"

    Each reckons greatness to consist
    In that in which he heads the list,

    And Vierick thinks he tops his class
    Because he is the greatest ass.
                                                      Arion Spurl Doke

GUILLOTINE, n.  A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders 
with good reason.
    In his great work on _Divergent Lines of Racial Evolution_, the 
learned Professor Brayfugle argues from the prevalence of this gesture 
-- the shrug -- among Frenchmen, that they are descended from turtles 
and it is simply a survival of the habit of retracing the head inside 
the shell.  It is with reluctance that I differ with so eminent an 
authority, but in my judgment (as more elaborately set forth and 
enforced in my work entitled _Hereditary Emotions_ -- lib. II, c. XI) 
the shrug is a poor foundation upon which to build so important a 
theory, for previously to the Revolution the gesture was unknown.  I 
have not a doubt that it is directly referable to the terror inspired 
by the guillotine during the period of that instrument’s activity.

GUNPOWDER, n.  An agency employed by civilized nations for the 
settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left 
unadjusted.  By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to 
the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence.  Milton says it 
was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion 
seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels.  Moreover, 
it has the hearty concurrence of the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of 
    Secretary Wilson became interested in gunpowder through an event 
that occurred on the Government experimental farm in the District of 
Columbia.  One day, several years ago, a rogue imperfectly reverent of 
the Secretary’s profound attainments and personal character presented 
him with a sack of gunpowder, representing it as the sed of the 
_Flashawful flabbergastor_, a Patagonian cereal of great commercial 
value, admirably adapted to this climate.  The good Secretary was 
instructed to spill it along in a furrow and afterward inhume it with 
soil.  This he at once proceeded to do, and had made a continuous line 
of it all the way across a ten-acre field, when he was made to look 
backward by a shout from the generous donor, who at once dropped a 
lighted match into the furrow at the starting-point.  Contact with the 
earth had somewhat dampened the powder, but the startled functionary 
saw himself pursued by a tall moving pillar of fire and smoke and 
fierce evolution.  He stood for a moment paralyzed and speechless, 
then he recollected an engagement and, dropping all, absented himself 
thence with such surprising celerity that to the eyes of spectators 
along the route selected he appeared like a long, dim streak 
prolonging itself with inconceivable rapidity through seven villages, 
and audibly refusing to be comforted.  "Great Scott! what is that?" 
cried a surveyor’s chainman, shading his eyes and gazing at the fading 
line of agriculturist which bisected his visible horizon.  "That," 
said the surveyor, carelessly glancing at the phenomenon and again 
centering his attention upon his instrument, "is the Meridian of 


HABEAS CORPUS.  A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when 
confined for the wrong crime.

HABIT, n.  A shackle for the free.

HADES, n.  The lower world; the residence of departed spirits; the 
place where the dead live.
    Among the ancients the idea of Hades was not synonymous with our 
Hell, many of the most respectable men of antiquity residing there in 
a very comfortable kind of way.  Indeed, the Elysian Fields themselves 
were a part of Hades, though they have since been removed to Paris.  
When the Jacobean version of the New Testament was in process of 
evolution the pious and learned men engaged in the work insisted by a 
majority vote on translating the Greek word "Aides" as "Hell"; but a 
conscientious minority member secretly possessed himself of the record 
and struck out the objectional word wherever he could find it.  At the 
next meeting, the Bishop of Salisbury, looking over the work, suddenly 
sprang to his feet and said with considerable excitement:  "Gentlemen, 
somebody has been razing 'Hell' here!"  Years afterward the good 
prelate’s death was made sweet by the reflection that he had been the 
means (under Providence) of making an important, serviceable and 
immortal addition to the phraseology of the English tongue.

HAG, n.  An elderly lady whom you do not happen to like; sometimes 
called, also, a hen, or cat.  Old witches, sorceresses, etc., were 
called hags from the belief that their heads were surrounded by a kind 
of baleful lumination or nimbus -- hag being the popular name of that 
peculiar electrical light sometimes observed in the hair.  At one time 
hag was not a word of reproach:  Drayton speaks of a "beautiful hag, 
all smiles," much as Shakespeare said, "sweet wench."  It would not 
now be proper to call your sweetheart a hag -- that compliment is 
reserved for the use of her grandchildren.

HALF, n.  One of two equal parts into which a thing may be divided, or 
considered as divided.  In the fourteenth century a heated discussion 
arose among theologists and philosophers as to whether Omniscience 
could part an object into three halves; and the pious Father 
Aldrovinus publicly prayed in the cathedral at Rouen that God would 
demonstrate the affirmative of the proposition in some signal and 
unmistakable way, and particularly (if it should please Him) upon the 
body of that hardy blasphemer, Manutius Procinus, who maintained the 
negative.  Procinus, however, was spared to die of the bite of a 

HALO, n.  Properly, a luminous ring encircling an astronomical body, 
but not infrequently confounded with "aureola," or "nimbus," a 
somewhat similar phenomenon worn as a head-dress by divinities and 
saints.  The halo is a purely optical illusion, produced by moisture 
in the air, in the manner of a rainbow; but the aureola is conferred 
as a sign of superior sanctity, in the same way as a bishop’s mitre, 
or the Pope’s tiara.  In the painting of the Nativity, by Szedgkin, a 
pious artist of Pesth, not only do the Virgin and the Child wear the 
nimbus, but an ass nibbling hay from the sacred manger is similarly 
decorated and, to his lasting honor be it said, appears to bear his 
unaccustomed dignity with a truly saintly grace.

HAND, n.  A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and 
commonly thrust into somebody’s pocket.

HANDKERCHIEF, n.  A small square of silk or linen, used in various 
ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals 
to conceal the lack of tears.  The handkerchief is of recent 
invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and intrusted its duties 
to the sleeve.  Shakespeare’s introducing it into the play of 
"Othello" is an anachronism:  Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, 
as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coattails 
in our own day -- an evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward.

HANGMAN, n.  An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest 
dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a 
populace having a criminal ancestry.  In some of the American States 
his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, 
where executions by electricity have recently been ordered -- the 
first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the 
expediency of hanging Jerseymen.

HAPPINESS, n.  An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the 
misery of another.

HARANGUE, n.  A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harrangue- 

HARBOR, n.  A place where ships taking shelter from stores are exposed 
to the fury of the customs.

HARMONISTS, n.  A sect of Protestants, now extinct, who came from 
Europe in the beginning of the last century and were distinguished for 
the bitterness of their internal controversies and dissensions.

HASH, x.  There is no definition for this word -- nobody knows what 
hash is.

HATCHET, n.  A young axe, known among Indians as a Thomashawk.

    "O bury the hatchet, irascible Red,
    For peace is a blessing," the White Man said.
        The Savage concurred, and that weapon interred,
    With imposing rites, in the White Man’s head.
                                                           John Lukkus

HATRED, n.  A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another’s 

HEAD-MONEY, n.  A capitation tax, or poll-tax.

    In ancient times there lived a king
    Whose tax-collectors could not wring
    From all his subjects gold enough
    To make the royal way less rough.
    For pleasure’s highway, like the dames
    Whose premises adjoin it, claims
    Perpetual repairing.  So
    The tax-collectors in a row
    Appeared before the throne to pray
    Their master to devise some way
    To swell the revenue.  "So great,"
    Said they, "are the demands of state
    A tithe of all that we collect
    Will scarcely meet them.  Pray reflect:
    How, if one-tenth we must resign,
    Can we exist on t'other nine?"
    The monarch asked them in reply:
    "Has it occurred to you to try
    The advantage of economy?"
    "It has," the spokesman said:  "we sold
    All of our gray garrotes of gold;
    With plated-ware we now compress
    The necks of those whom we assess.
    Plain iron forceps we employ
    To mitigate the miser’s joy
    Who hoards, with greed that never tires,
    That which your Majesty requires."
    Deep lines of thought were seen to plow
    Their way across the royal brow.
    "Your state is desperate, no question;
    Pray favor me with a suggestion."
    "O King of Men," the spokesman said,
    "If you'll impose upon each head
    A tax, the augmented revenue
    We'll cheerfully divide with you."
    As flashes of the sun illume
    The parted storm-cloud’s sullen gloom,
    The king smiled grimly.  "I decree
    That it be so -- and, not to be
    In generosity outdone,
    Declare you, each and every one,
    Exempted from the operation
    Of this new law of capitation.
    But lest the people censure me
    Because they're bound and you are free,
    'Twere well some clever scheme were laid
    By you this poll-tax to evade.
    I'll leave you now while you confer
    With my most trusted minister."
    The monarch from the throne-room walked
    And straightway in among them stalked
    A silent man, with brow concealed,
    Bare-armed -- his gleaming axe revealed!

HEARSE, n.  Death’s baby-carriage.

HEART, n.  An automatic, muscular blood-pump.  Figuratively, this 
useful organ is said to be the esat of emotions and sentiments -- a 
very pretty fancy which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once 
universal belief.  It is now known that the sentiments and emotions 
reside in the stomach, being evolved from food by chemical action of 
the gastric fluid.  The exact process by which a beefsteak becomes a 
feeling -- tender or not, according to the age of the animal from 
which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration through which a 
caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears as a 
pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a 
hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh 
of sensibility -- these things have been patiently ascertained by M. 
Pasteur, and by him expounded with convincing lucidity.  (See, also, 
my monograph, _The Essential Identity of the Spiritual Affections and 
Certain Intestinal Gases Freed in Digestion_ -- 4to, 687 pp.)  In a 
scientific work entitled, I believe, _Delectatio Demonorum_ (John 
Camden Hotton, London, 1873) this view of the sentiments receives a 
striking illustration; and for further light consult Professor Dam’s 
famous treatise on _Love as a Product of Alimentary Maceration_.

HEAT, n.

    Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode
        Of motion, but I know now how he’s proving
    His point; but this I know -- hot words bestowed
        With skill will set the human fist a-moving,
    And where it stops the stars burn free and wild.
    _Crede expertum_ -- I have seen them, child.
                                                          Gorton Swope

HEATHEN, n.  A benighted creature who has the folly to worship 
something that he can see and feel.  According to Professor Howison, 
of the California State University, Hebrews are heathens.

    "The Hebrews are heathens!" says Howison.  He’s
        A Christian philosopher.  I'm
    A scurril agnostical chap, if you please,
        Addicted too much to the crime
        Of religious discussion in my rhyme.

    Though Hebrew and Howison cannot agree
        On a _modus vivendi_ -- not they! --
    Yet Heaven has had the designing of me,
        And I haven't been reared in a way
        To joy in the thick of the fray.

    For this of my creed is the soul and the gist,
        And the truth of it I aver:
    Who differs from me in his faith is an 'ist,
        And 'ite, an 'ie, or an 'er --
        And I'm down upon him or her!

    Let Howison urge with perfunctory chin
        Toleration -- that’s all very well,
    But a roast is "nuts" to his nostril thin,
        And he’s running -- I know by the smell --
        A secret and personal Hell!
                                                           Bissell Gip

HEAVEN, n.  A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with 
talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention 
while you expound your own.

HEBREW, n.  A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an 
altogether superior creation.

HELPMATE, n.  A wife, or bitter half.

    "Now, why is yer wife called a helpmate, Pat?"
        Says the priest.  "Since the time 'o yer wooin'
    She’s niver [sic] assisted in what ye were at --
        For it’s naught ye are ever doin'."

    "That’s true of yer Riverence [sic]," Patrick replies,
        And no sign of contrition envices;
    "But, bedad, it’s a fact which the word implies,
        For she helps to mate the expinses [sic]!"
                                                         Marley Wottel

HEMP, n.  A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of 
neckwear which is frequently put on after public speaking in the open 
air and prevents the wearer from taking cold.

HERMIT, n.  A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.

HERS, pron.  His.

HIBERNATE, v.i.  To pass the winter season in domestic seclusion.  
There have been many singular popular notions about the hibernation of 
various animals.  Many believe that the bear hibernates during the 
whole winter and subsists by mechanically sucking its paws.  It is 
admitted that it comes out of its retirement in the spring so lean 
that it had to try twice before it can cast a shadow.  Three or four 
centuries ago, in England, no fact was better attested than that 
swallows passed the winter months in the mud at the bottom of their 
brooks, clinging together in globular masses.  They have apparently 
been compelled to give up the custom and account of the foulness of 
the brooks.  Sotus Ecobius discovered in Central Asia a whole nation 
of people who hibernate.  By some investigators, the fasting of Lent 
is supposed to have been originally a modified form of hibernation, to 
which the Church gave a religious significance; but this view was 
strenuously opposed by that eminent authority, Bishop Kip, who did not 
wish any honors denied to the memory of the Founder of his family.

HIPPOGRIFF, n.  An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half 
griffin.  The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and 
half eagle.  The hippogriff was actually, therefore, a one-quarter 
eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold.  The study of 
zoology is full of surprises.

HISTORIAN, n.  A broad-gauge gossip.

HISTORY, n.  An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, 
which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly 

    Of Roman history, great Niebuhr’s shown
    'Tis nine-tenths lying.  Faith, I wish 'twere known,
    Ere we accept great Niebuhr as a guide,
    Wherein he blundered and how much he lied.
                                                           Salder Bupp

HOG, n.  A bird remarkable for the catholicity of its appetite and 
serving to illustrate that of ours.  Among the Mahometans and Jews, 
the hog is not in favor as an article of diet, but is respected for 
the delicacy and the melody of its voice.  It is chiefly as a songster 
that the fowl is esteemed; the cage of him in full chorus has been 
known to draw tears from two persons at once.  The scientific name of 
this dicky-bird is _Porcus Rockefelleri_.  Mr. Rockefeller did not 
discover the hog, but it is considered his by right of resemblance.

HOMOEOPATHIST, n.  The humorist of the medical profession.

HOMOEOPATHY, n.  A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and 
Christian Science.  To the last both the others are distinctly 
inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they 
can not.

HOMICIDE, n.  The slaying of one human being by another.  There are 
four kinds of homocide:  felonious, excusable, justifiable, and 
praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain 
whether he fell by one kind or another -- the classification is for 
advantage of the lawyers.

HOMILETICS, n.  The science of adapting sermons to the spiritual 
needs, capacities and conditions of the congregation.

    So skilled the parson was in homiletics
    That all his normal purges and emetics
    To medicine the spirit were compounded
    With a most just discrimination founded
    Upon a rigorous examination
    Of tongue and pulse and heart and respiration.
    Then, having diagnosed each one’s condition,
    His scriptural specifics this physician
    Administered -- his pills so efficacious
    And pukes of disposition so vivacious
    That souls afflicted with ten kinds of Adam
    Were convalescent ere they knew they had 'em.
    But Slander’s tongue -- itself all coated -- uttered
    Her bilious mind and scandalously muttered
    That in the case of patients having money
    The pills were sugar and the pukes were honey.
                                          _Biography of Bishop Potter_

HONORABLE, adj.  Afflicted with an impediment in one’s reach.  In 
legislative bodies it is customary to mention all members as 
honorable; as, "the honorable gentleman is a scurvy cur."

HOPE, n.  Desire and expectation rolled into one.

    Delicious Hope! when naught to man it left --
    Of fortune destitute, of friends bereft;
    When even his dog deserts him, and his goat
    With tranquil disaffection chews his coat
    While yet it hangs upon his back; then thou,
    The star far-flaming on thine angel brow,
    Descendest, radiant, from the skies to hint
    The promise of a clerkship in the Mint.
                                                       Fogarty Weffing

HOSPITALITY, n.  The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain 
persons who are not in need of food and lodging.

HOSTILITY, n.  A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the 
earth’s overpopulation.  Hostility is classified as active and 
passive; as (respectively) the feeling of a woman for her female 
friends, and that which she entertains for all the rest of her sex.

HOURI, n.  A comely female inhabiting the Mohammedan Paradise to make 
things cheery for the good Mussulman, whose belief in her existence 
marks a noble discontent with his earthly spouse, whom he denies a 
soul.  By that good lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient 

HOUSE, n.  A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, 
mouse, beelte, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus and microbe.  
_House of Correction_, a place of reward for political and personal 
service, and for the detention of offenders and appropriations.  
_House of God_, a building with a steeple and a mortgage on it.  
_House-dog_, a pestilent beast kept on domestic premises to insult 
persons passing by and appal the hardy visitor.  _House-maid_, a 
youngerly person of the opposing sex employed to be variously 
disagreeable and ingeniously unclean in the station in which it has 
pleased God to place her.

HOUSELESS, adj.  Having paid all taxes on household goods.

HOVEL, n.  The fruit of a flower called the Palace.

        Twaddle had a hovel,
            Twiddle had a palace;
        Twaddle said:  "I'll grovel
            Or he'll think I bear him malice" --
    A sentiment as novel
        As a castor on a chalice.

        Down upon the middle
            Of his legs fell Twaddle
        And astonished Mr. Twiddle,
            Who began to lift his noddle.
        Feed upon the fiddle-
            Faddle flummery, unswaddle
    A new-born self-sufficiency and think himself a [mockery.]

HUMANITY, n.  The human race, collectively, exclusive of the 
anthropoid poets.

HUMORIST, n.  A plague that would have softened down the hoar 
austerity of Pharaoh’s heart and persuaded him to dismiss Israel with 
his best wishes, cat-quick.

    Lo! the poor humorist, whose tortured mind
    See jokes in crowds, though still to gloom inclined --
    Whose simple appetite, untaught to stray,
    His brains, renewed by night, consumes by day.
    He thinks, admitted to an equal sty,
    A graceful hog would bear his company.
                                                        Alexander Poke

HURRICANE, n.  An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now 
generally abandoned for the tornado and cyclone.  The hurricane is 
still in popular use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain 
old-fashioned sea-captains.  It is also used in the construction of 
the upper decks of steamboats, but generally speaking, the hurricane’s 
usefulness has outlasted it.

HURRY, n.  The dispatch of bunglers.

HUSBAND, n.  One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the 

HYBRID, n.  A pooled issue.

HYDRA, n.  A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many 

HYENA, n.  A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its 
habit of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead.  But the 
medical student does that.

HYPOCHONDRIASIS, n.  Depression of one’s own spirits.

    Some heaps of trash upon a vacant lot
    Where long the village rubbish had been shot
    Displayed a sign among the stuff and stumps --
    "Hypochondriasis."  It meant The Dumps.
                                                        Bogul S. Purvy

HYPOCRITE, n.  One who, profession virtues that he does not respect 
secures the advantage of seeming to be what he depises.


I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language, 
the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection.  In 
grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number.  Its 
plural is said to be _We_, but how there can be more than one myself 
is doubtless clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this 
incomparable dictionary.  Conception of two myselfs is difficult, but 
fine.  The frank yet graceful use of "I" distinguishes a good writer 
from a bad; the latter carries it with the manner of a thief trying to 
cloak his loot.

ICHOR, n.  A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of 

    Fair Venus, speared by Diomed,
    Restrained the raging chief and said:
    "Behold, rash mortal, whom you've bled --
    Your soul’s stained white with ichorshed!"
                                                             Mary Doke

ICONOCLAST, n.  A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are 
imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest 
that he unbuildeth but doth not reedify, that he pulleth down but 
pileth not up.  For the poor things would have other idols in place of 
those he thwacketh upon the mazzard and dispelleth.  But the 
iconoclast saith:  "Ye shall have none at all, for ye need them not; 
and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold I will depress 
the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it."

IDIOT, n.  A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in 
human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.  The Idiot’s 
activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, 
but "pervades and regulates the whole."  He has the last word in 
everything; his decision is unappealable.  He sets the fashions and 
opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes 
conduct with a dead-line.

IDLENESS, n.  A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of 
new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.

IGNORAMUS, n.  A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge 
familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know 
nothing about.

    Dumble was an ignoramus,
    Mumble was for learning famous.
    Mumble said one day to Dumble:
    "Ignorance should be more humble.
    Not a spark have you of knowledge
    That was got in any college."
    Dumble said to Mumble:  "Truly
    You're self-satisfied unduly.
    Of things in college I'm denied
    A knowledge -- you of all beside."

ILLUMINATI, n.  A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the 
sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights -- 
_cunctationes illuminati_.

ILLUSTRIOUS, adj.  Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and 

IMAGINATION, n.  A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint 

IMBECILITY, n.  A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting 
censorious critics of this dictionary.

IMMIGRANT, n.  An unenlightened person who thinks one country better 
than another.

IMMODEST, adj.  Having a strong sense of one’s own merit, coupled with 
a feeble conception of worth in others.

    There was once a man in Ispahan
        Ever and ever so long ago,
    And he had a head, the phrenologists said,
        That fitted him for a show.

    For his modesty’s bump was so large a lump
        (Nature, they said, had taken a freak)
    That its summit stood far above the wood
        Of his hair, like a mountain peak.

    So modest a man in all Ispahan,
        Over and over again they swore --
    So humble and meek, you would vainly seek;
        None ever was found before.

    Meantime the hump of that awful bump
        Into the heavens contrived to get
    To so great a height that they called the wight
        The man with the minaret.

    There wasn't a man in all Ispahan
        Prouder, or louder in praise of his chump:
    With a tireless tongue and a brazen lung
        He bragged of that beautiful bump

    Till the Shah in a rage sent a trusty page
        Bearing a sack and a bow-string too,
    And that gentle child explained as he smiled:
        "A little present for you."

    The saddest man in all Ispahan,
        Sniffed at the gift, yet accepted the same.
    "If I'd lived," said he, "my humility
        Had given me deathless fame!"
                                                          Sukker Uffro

IMMORAL, adj.  Inexpedient.  Whatever in the long run and with regard 
to the greater number of instances men find to be generally 
inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral.  If man’s 
notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of 
expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other 
way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and 
nowise dependent on, their consequences -- then all philosophy is a 
lie and reason a disorder of the mind.


    A toy which people cry for,
    And on their knees apply for,
    Dispute, contend and lie for,
        And if allowed
        Would be right proud
    Eternally to die for.

IMPALE, v.t.  In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains 
fixed in the wound.  This, however, is inaccurate; to imaple is, 
properly, to put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the 
body, the victim being left in a sitting position.  This was a common 
mode of punishment among many of the nations of antiquity, and is 
still in high favor in China and other parts of Asia.  Down to the 
beginning of the fifteenth century it was widely employed in 
"churching" heretics and schismatics.  Wolecraft calls it the "stoole 
of repentynge," and among the common people it was jocularly known as 
"riding the one legged horse."  Ludwig Salzmann informs us that in 
Thibet impalement is considered the most appropriate punishment for 
crimes against religion; and although in China it is sometimes awarded 
for secular offences, it is most frequently adjudged in cases of 
sacrilege.  To the person in actual experience of impalement it must 
be a matter of minor importance by what kind of civil or religious 
dissent he was made acquainted with its discomforts; but doubtless he 
would feel a certain satisfaction if able to contemplate himself in 
the character of a weather-cock on the spire of the True Church.

IMPARTIAL, adj.  Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage 
from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two 
conflicting opinions.

IMPENITENCE, n.  A state of mind intermediate in point of time between 
sin and punishment.

IMPIETY, n.  Your irreverence toward my deity.

IMPOSITION, n.  The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on 
of hands -- a ceremony common to many ecclesiastical systems, but 
performed with the frankest sincerity by the sect known as Thieves.

    "Lo! by the laying on of hands,"
        Say parson, priest and dervise,
    "We consecrate your cash and lands
        To ecclesiastical service.
    No doubt you'll swear till all is blue
    At such an imposition.  Do."
                                                          Pollo Doncas

IMPOSTOR n.  A rival aspirant to public honors.


    His tale he told with a solemn face
    And a tender, melancholy grace.
        Improbable 'twas, no doubt,
        When you came to think it out,
        But the fascinated crowd
        Their deep surprise avowed
    And all with a single voice averred
    'Twas the most amazing thing they'd heard --
    All save one who spake never a word,
        But sat as mum
        As if deaf and dumb,
    Serene, indifferent and unstirred.
        Then all the others turned to him
        And scrutinized him limb from limb --
        Scanned him alive;
        But he seemed to thrive
        And tranquiler grow each minute,
        As if there were nothing in it.
    "What! what!" cried one, "are you not amazed
    At what our friend has told?"  He raised
    Soberly then his eyes and gazed
        In a natural way
        And proceeded to say,
    As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:
    "O no -- not at all; I'm a liar myself."

IMPROVIDENCE, n.  Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues 
of to-morrow.

IMPUNITY, n.  Wealth.

INADMISSIBLE, adj.  Not competent to be considered.  Said of certain 
kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be 
entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of 
proceedings before themselves alone.  Hearsay evidence is inadmissible 
because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for 
examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political, 
commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay 
evidence.  There is no religion in the world that has any other basis 
than hearsay evidence.  Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the 
Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long 
dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known 
to have been sworn in any sense.  Under the rules of evidence as they 
now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its 
support any evidence admissible in a court of law.  It cannot be 
proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was 
such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.
    But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily 
be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were 
a scourge to mankind.  The evidence (including confession) upon which 
certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a 
flaw; it is still unimpeachable.  The judges' decisions based on it 
were sound in logic and in law.  Nothing in any existing court was 
ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery 
for which so many suffered death.  If there were no witches, human 
testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.

INAUSPICIOUSLY, adv.  In an unpromising manner, the auspices being 
unfavorable.  Among the Romans it was customary before undertaking any 
important action or enterprise to obtain from the augurs, or state 
prophets, some hint of its probable outcome; and one of their favorite 
and most trustworthy modes of divination consisted in observing the 
flight of birds -- the omens thence derived being called _auspices_.  
Newspaper reporters and certain miscreant lexicographers have decided 
that the word -- always in the plural -- shall mean "patronage" or 
"management"; as, "The festivities were under the auspices of the 
Ancient and Honorable Order of Body-Snatchers"; or, "The hilarities 
were auspicated by the Knights of Hunger."

    A Roman slave appeared one day
    Before the Augur.  "Tell me, pray,
    If --" here the Augur, smiling, made
    A checking gesture and displayed
    His open palm, which plainly itched,
    For visibly its surface twitched.
    A _denarius_ (the Latin nickel)
    Successfully allayed the tickle,
    And then the slave proceeded:  "Please
    Inform me whether Fate decrees
    Success or failure in what I
    To-night (if it be dark) shall try.
    Its nature?  Never mind -- I think
    'Tis writ on this" -- and with a wink
    Which darkened half the earth, he drew
    Another denarius to view,
    Its shining face attentive scanned,
    Then slipped it into the good man’s hand,
    Who with great gravity said:  "Wait
    While I retire to question Fate."
    That holy person then withdrew
    His scared clay and, passing through
    The temple’s rearward gate, cried "Shoo!"
    Waving his robe of office.  Straight
    Each sacred peacock and its mate
    (Maintained for Juno’s favor) fled
    With clamor from the trees o'erhead,
    Where they were perching for the night.
    The temple’s roof received their flight,
    For thither they would always go,
    When danger threatened them below.
    Back to the slave the Augur went:
    "My son, forecasting the event
    By flight of birds, I must confess
    The auspices deny success."
    That slave retired, a sadder man,
    Abandoning his secret plan --
    Which was (as well the craft seer
    Had from the first divined) to clear
    The wall and fraudulently seize
    On Juno’s poultry in the trees.

INCOME, n.  The natural and rational gauge and measure of 
respectability, the commonly accepted standards being artificial, 
arbitrary and fallacious; for, as "Sir Sycophas Chrysolater" in the 
play has justly remarked, "the true use and function of property (in 
whatsoever it consisteth -- coins, or land, or houses, or merchant- 
stuff, or anything which may be named as holden of right to one’s own 
subservience) as also of honors, titles, preferments and place, and 
all favor and acquaintance of persons of quality or ableness, are but 
to get money.  Hence it followeth that all things are truly to be 
rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness to that end; and 
their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto, neither the 
lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient, nor he who 
bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of a king, 
being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of daily 
accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and 
rightly take more honor than the poor and unworthy."

INCOMPATIBILITY, n.  In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly 
the taste for domination.  Incompatibility may, however, consist of a 
meek-eyed matron living just around the corner.  It has even been 
known to wear a moustache.

INCOMPOSSIBLE, adj.  Unable to exist if something else exists.  Two 
things are incompossible when the world of being has scope enough for 
one of them, but not enough for both -- as Walt Whitman’s poetry and 
God’s mercy to man.  Incompossibility, it will be seen, is only 
incompatibility let loose.  Instead of such low language as "Go heel 
yourself -- I mean to kill you on sight," the words, "Sir, we are 
incompossible," would convey and equally significant intimation and in 
stately courtesy are altogether superior.

INCUBUS, n.  One of a race of highly improper demons who, though 
probably not wholly extinct, may be said to have seen their best 
nights.  For a complete account of _incubi_ and _succubi_, including 
_incubae_ and _succubae_, see the _Liber Demonorum_ of Protassus 
(Paris, 1328), which contains much curious information that would be 
out of place in a dictionary intended as a text-book for the public 
    Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself -- 
tempted more than elsewhere by the beauty of the women, doubtless -- 
sometimes plays at _incubus_, greatly to the inconvenience and alarm 
of the good dames who wish to be loyal to their marriage vows, 
generally speaking.  A certain lady applied to the parish priest to 
learn how they might, in the dark, distinguish the hardy intruder from 
their husbands.  The holy man said they must feel his brown for horns; 
but Hugo is ungallant enough to hint a doubt of the efficacy of the 

INCUMBENT, n.  A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.

INDECISION, n.  The chief element of success; "for whereas," saith Sir 
Thomas Brewbold, "there is but one way to do nothing and divers way to 
do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it 
followeth that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many 
chances of going astray as he who pusheth forwards" -- a most clear 
and satisfactory exposition on the matter.
    "Your prompt decision to attack," said Genera Grant on a certain 
occasion to General Gordon Granger, "was admirable; you had but five 
minutes to make up your mind in."
    "Yes, sir," answered the victorious subordinate, "it is a great 
thing to be know exactly what to do in an emergency.  When in doubt 
whether to attack or retreat I never hesitate a moment -- I toss us a 
    "Do you mean to say that’s what you did this time?"
    "Yes, General; but for Heaven’s sake don't reprimand me:  I 
disobeyed the coin."

INDIFFERENT, adj.  Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.

    "You tiresome man!" cried Indolentio’s wife,
    "You've grown indifferent to all in life."
    "Indifferent?" he drawled with a slow smile;
    "I would be, dear, but it is not worth while."
                                                     Apuleius M. Gokul

INDIGESTION, n.  A disease which the patient and his friends 
frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the 
salvation of mankind.  As the simple Red Man of the western wild put 
it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force:  "Plenty well, no 
pray; big bellyache, heap God."

INDISCRETION, n.  The guilt of woman.

INEXPEDIENT, adj.  Not calculated to advance one’s interests.

INFANCY, n.  The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, 
"Heaven lies about us."  The world begins lying about us pretty soon 

INFERIAE,n.  [Latin]  Among the Greeks and Romans, sacrifices for 
propitation of the _Dii Manes_, or souls of the dead heroes; for the 
pious ancients could not invent enough gods to satisfy their spiritual 
needs, and had to have a number of makeshift deities, or, as a sailor 
might say, jury-gods, which they made out of the most unpromising 
materials.  It was while sacrificing a bullock to the spirit of 
Agamemnon that Laiaides, a priest of Aulis, was favored with an 
audience of that illustrious warrior’s shade, who prophetically 
recounted to him the birth of Christ and the triumph of Christianity, 
giving him also a rapid but tolerably complete review of events down 
to the reign of Saint Louis.  The narrative ended abruptly at the 
point, owing to the inconsiderate crowing of a cock, which compelled 
the ghosted King of Men to scamper back to Hades.  There is a fine 
mediaeval flavor to this story, and as it has not been traced back 
further than Pere Brateille, a pious but obscure writer at the court 
of Saint Louis, we shall probably not err on the side of presumption 
in considering it apocryphal, though Monsignor Capel’s judgment of the 
matter might be different; and to that I bow -- wow.

INFIDEL, n.  In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian 
religion; in Constantinople, one who does.  (See GIAOUR.)  A kind of 
scoundrel imperfectly reverent of, and niggardly contributory to, 
divines, ecclesiastics, popes, parsons, canons, monks, mollahs, 
voodoos, presbyters, hierophants, prelates, obeah-men, abbes, nuns, 
missionaries, exhorters, deacons, friars, hadjis, high-priests, 
muezzins, brahmins, medicine-men, confessors, eminences, elders, 
primates, prebendaries, pilgrims, prophets, imaums, beneficiaries, 
clerks, vicars-choral, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, 
preachers, padres, abbotesses, caloyers, palmers, curates, patriarchs, 
bonezs, santons, beadsmen, canonesses, residentiaries, diocesans, 
deans, subdeans, rural deans, abdals, charm-sellers, archdeacons, 
hierarchs, class-leaders, incumbents, capitulars, sheiks, talapoins, 
postulants, scribes, gooroos, precentors, beadles, fakeers, sextons, 
reverences, revivalists, cenobites, perpetual curates, chaplains, 
mudjoes, readers, novices, vicars, pastors, rabbis, ulemas, lamas, 
sacristans, vergers, dervises, lectors, church wardens, cardinals, 
prioresses, suffragans, acolytes, rectors, cures, sophis, mutifs and 

INFLUENCE, n.  In politics, a visionary _quo_ given in exchange for a 
substantial _quid_.

INFALAPSARIAN, n.  One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have 
sinned unless he had a mind to -- in opposition to the 
Supralapsarians, who hold that that luckless person’s fall was decreed 
from the beginning.  Infralapsarians are sometimes called 
Sublapsarians without material effect upon the importance and lucidity 
of their views about Adam.

    Two theologues once, as they wended their way
    To chapel, engaged in colloquial fray --
    An earnest logomachy, bitter as gall,
    Concerning poor Adam and what made him fall.
    "'Twas Predestination," cried one -- "for the Lord
    Decreed he should fall of his own accord."
    "Not so -- 'twas Free will," the other maintained,
    "Which led him to choose what the Lord had ordained."
    So fierce and so fiery grew the debate
    That nothing but bloodshed their dudgeon could sate;
    So off flew their cassocks and caps to the ground
    And, moved by the spirit, their hands went round.
    Ere either had proved his theology right
    By winning, or even beginning, the fight,
    A gray old professor of Latin came by,
    A staff in his hand and a scowl in his eye,
    And learning the cause of their quarrel (for still
    As they clumsily sparred they disputed with skill
    Of foreordination freedom of will)
    Cried:  "Sirrahs! this reasonless warfare compose:
    Atwixt ye’s no difference worthy of blows.
    The sects ye belong to -- I'm ready to swear
    Ye wrongly interpret the names that they bear.
    _You_ -- Infralapsarian son of a clown! --
    Should only contend that Adam slipped down;
    While _you_ -- you Supralapsarian pup! --
    Should nothing aver but that Adam slipped up.
    It’s all the same whether up or down
    You slip on a peel of banana brown.
    Even Adam analyzed not his blunder,
    But thought he had slipped on a peal of thunder!

INGRATE, n.  One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise 
an object of charity.

    "All men are ingrates," sneered the cynic.  "Nay,"
        The good philanthropist replied;
    "I did great service to a man one day
    Who never since has cursed me to repay,
                Nor vilified."

    "Ho!" cried the cynic, "lead me to him straight --
        With veneration I am overcome,
    And fain would have his blessing."  "Sad your fate --
    He cannot bless you, for AI grieve to state
                This man is dumb."
                                                            Ariel Selp

INJURY, n.  An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.

INJUSTICE, n.  A burden which of all those that we load upon others 
and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the 

INK, n.  A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and 
water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote 
intellectual crime.  The properties of ink are peculiar and 
contradictory:  it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to 
blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and 
acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an 
edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal 
quality of the material.  There are men called journalists who have 
established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others 
to get out of.  Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid 
to get in pays twice as much to get out.

INNATE, adj.  Natural, inherent -- as innate ideas, that is to say, 
ideas that we are born with, having had them previously imparted to 
us.  The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths 
of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible 
to disproof, though Locke foolishly supposed himself to have given it 
"a black eye."  Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in 
one’s ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one’s 
country, in the superiority of one’s civilization, in the importance 
of one’s personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one’s 

IN'ARDS, n.  The stomach, heart, soul and other bowels.  Many eminent 
investigators do not class the soul as an in'ard, but that acute 
observer and renowned authority, Dr. Gunsaulus, is persuaded that the 
mysterious organ known as the spleen is nothing less than our 
important part.  To the contrary, Professor Garrett P. Servis holds 
that man’s soul is that prolongation of his spinal marrow which forms 
the pith of his no tail; and for demonstration of his faith points 
confidently to the fact that no tailed animals have no souls.  
Concerning these two theories, it is best to suspend judgment by 
believing both.

INSCRIPTION, n.  Something written on another thing.  Inscriptions are 
of many kinds, but mostly memorial, intended to commemorate the fame 
of some illustrious person and hand down to distant ages the record of 
his services and virtues.  To this class of inscriptions belongs the 
name of John Smith, penciled on the Washington monument.  Following 
are examples of memorial inscriptions on tombstones:  (See EPITAPH.)

    "In the sky my soul is found,
    And my body in the ground.
    By and by my body'll rise
    To my spirit in the skies,
    Soaring up to Heaven’s gate.

    "Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree.  Cut down May 9th, 1862, 
aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds.  Indigenous."

        "Affliction sore long time she boar,
            Phisicians was in vain,
        Till Deth released the dear deceased
            And left her a remain.
    Gone to join Ananias in the regions of bliss."

    "The clay that rests beneath this stone
    As Silas Wood was widely known.
    Now, lying here, I ask what good
    It was to let me be S. Wood.
    O Man, let not ambition trouble you,
    Is the advice of Silas W."

    "Richard Haymon, of Heaven.  Fell to Earth Jan. 20, 1807, and had 
the dust brushed off him Oct. 3, 1874."


    "See," cries the chorus of admiring preachers,
    "How Providence provides for all His creatures!"
    "His care," the gnat said, "even the insects follows:
    For us He has provided wrens and swallows."
                                                         Sempen Railey

INSURANCE, n.  An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player 
is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating 
the man who keeps the table.

    INSURANCE AGENT:  My dear sir, that is a fine house -- pray let me 
        insure it.
    HOUSE OWNER:  With pleasure.  Please make the annual premium so 
        low that by the time when, according to the tables of your 
        actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have 
        paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
    INSURANCE AGENT:  O dear, no -- we could not afford to do that.  
        We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
    HOUSE OWNER:  How, then, can _I_ afford _that_?
    INSURANCE AGENT:  Why, your house may burn down at any time.  
        There was Smith’s house, for example, which --
    HOUSE OWNER:  Spare me -- there were Brown’s house, on the 
        contrary, and Jones’s house, and Robinson’s house, which --
    INSURANCE AGENT:  Spare _me_!
    HOUSE OWNER:  Let us understand each other.  You want me to pay 
        you money on the supposition that something will occur 
        previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence.  In 
        other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last 
        so long as you say that it will probably last.
    INSURANCE AGENT:  But if your house burns without insurance it 
        will be a total loss.
    HOUSE OWNER:  Beg your pardon -- by your own actuary’s tables I 
        shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I 
        would otherwise have paid to you -- amounting to more than the 
        face of the policy they would have bought.  But suppose it to 
        burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are 
        based.  If I could not afford that, how could you if it were 
    INSURANCE AGENT:  O, we should make ourselves whole from our 
        luckier ventures with other clients.  Virtually, they pay your 
    HOUSE OWNER:  And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their 
        losses?  Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before 
        they have paid you as much as you must pay them?  The case 
        stands this way:  you expect to take more money from your 
        clients than you pay to them, do you not?
    INSURANCE AGENT:  Certainly; if we did not --
    HOUSE OWNER:  I would not trust you with my money.  Very well 
        then.  If it is _certain_, with reference to the whole body of 
        your clients, that they lose money on you it is _probable_, 
        with reference to any one of them, that _he_ will.  It is 
        these individual probabilities that make the aggregate 
    INSURANCE AGENT:  I will not deny it -- but look at the figures in 
        this pamph --
    HOUSE OWNER:  Heaven forbid!
    INSURANCE AGENT:  You spoke of saving the premiums which you would 
        otherwise pay to me.  Will you not be more likely to squander 
        them?  We offer you an incentive to thrift.
    HOUSE OWNER:  The willingness of A to take care of B’s money is 
        not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you 
        command esteem.  Deign to accept its expression from a 
        Deserving Object.

INSURRECTION, n.  An unsuccessful revolution.  Disaffection’s failure 
to substitute misrule for bad government.

INTENTION, n.  The mind’s sense of the prevalence of one set of 
influences over another set; an effect whose cause is the imminence, 
immediate or remote, of the performance of an involuntary act.

INTERPRETER, n.  One who enables two persons of different languages to 
understand each other by repeating to each what it would have been to 
the interpreter’s advantage for the other to have said.

INTERREGNUM, n.  The period during which a monarchical country is 
governed by a warm spot on the cushion of the throne.  The experiment 
of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most 
unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm 

INTIMACY, n.  A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for 
their mutual destruction.

    Two Seidlitz powders, one in blue
    And one in white, together drew
    And having each a pleasant sense
    Of t'other powder’s excellence,
    Forsook their jackets for the snug
    Enjoyment of a common mug.
    So close their intimacy grew
    One paper would have held the two.
    To confidences straight they fell,
    Less anxious each to hear than tell;
    Then each remorsefully confessed
    To all the virtues he possessed,
    Acknowledging he had them in
    So high degree it was a sin.
    The more they said, the more they felt
    Their spirits with emotion melt,
    Till tears of sentiment expressed
    Their feelings.  Then they effervesced!
    So Nature executes her feats
    Of wrath on friends and sympathetes
    The good old rule who don't apply,
    That you are you and I am I.

INTRODUCTION, n.  A social ceremony invented by the devil for the 
gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies.  The 
introduction attains its most malevolent development in this century, 
being, indeed, closely related to our political system.  Every 
American being the equal of every other American, it follows that 
everybody has the right to know everybody else, which implies the 
right to introduce without request or permission.  The Declaration of 
Independence should have read thus:

        "We hold these truths to be self-evident:  that all men are 
    created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain 
    inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to 
    make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an 
    incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the 
    liberty to introduce persons to one another without first 
    ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and 
    the pursuit of another’s happiness with a running pack of 

INVENTOR, n.  A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, 
levers and springs, and believes it civilization.

IRRELIGION, n.  The principal one of the great faiths of the world.

ITCH, n.  The patriotism of a Scotchman.


J is a consonant in English, but some nations use it as a vowel -- 
than which nothing could be more absurd.  Its original form, which has 
been but slightly modified, was that of the tail of a subdued dog, and 
it was not a letter but a character, standing for a Latin verb, 
_jacere_, "to throw," because when a stone is thrown at a dog the 
dog’s tail assumes that shape.  This is the origin of the letter, as 
expounded by the renowned Dr. Jocolpus Bumer, of the University of 
Belgrade, who established his conclusions on the subject in a work of 
three quarto volumes and committed suicide on being reminded that the 
j in the Roman alphabet had originally no curl.

JEALOUS, adj.  Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which 
can be lost only if not worth keeping.

JESTER, n.  An officer formerly attached to a king’s household, whose 
business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and 
utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume.  The 
king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some 
centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were 
sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of 
all mankind.  The jester was commonly called a fool, but the poets and 
romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise 
and witty person.  In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the 
court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same 
jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the 
patrician sense of humor and tapped the tank of royal tears.

    The widow-queen of Portugal
        Had an audacious jester
    Who entered the confessional
        Disguised, and there confessed her.

    "Father," she said, "thine ear bend down --
        My sins are more than scarlet:
    I love my fool -- blaspheming clown,
        And common, base-born varlet."

    "Daughter," the mimic priest replied,
        "That sin, indeed, is awful:
    The church’s pardon is denied
        To love that is unlawful.

    "But since thy stubborn heart will be
        For him forever pleading,
    Thou'dst better make him, by decree,
        A man of birth and breeding."

    She made the fool a duke, in hope
        With Heaven’s taboo to palter;
    Then told a priest, who told the Pope,
        Who damned her from the altar!
                                                            Barel Dort

JEWS-HARP, n.  An unmusical instrument, played by holding it fast with 
the teeth and trying to brush it away with the finger.

JOSS-STICKS, n.  Small sticks burned by the Chinese in their pagan 
tomfoolery, in imitation of certain sacred rites of our holy religion.

JUSTICE, n.  A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition 
the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes 
and personal service.


K is a consonant that we get from the Greeks, but it can be traced 
away back beyond them to the Cerathians, a small commercial nation 
inhabiting the peninsula of Smero.  In their tongue it was called 
_Klatch_, which means "destroyed."  The form of the letter was 
originally precisely that of our H, but the erudite Dr. Snedeker 
explains that it was altered to its present shape to commemorate the 
destruction of the great temple of Jarute by an earthquake, _circa_ 
730 B.C.  This building was famous for the two lofty columns of its 
portico, one of which was broken in half by the catastrophe, the other 
remaining intact.  As the earlier form of the letter is supposed to 
have been suggested by these pillars, so, it is thought by the great 
antiquary, its later was adopted as a simple and natural -- not to say 
touching -- means of keeping the calamity ever in the national memory.  
It is not known if the name of the letter was altered as an additional 
mnemonic, or if the name was always _Klatch_ and the destruction one 
of nature’s pums.  As each theory seems probable enough, I see no 
objection to believing both -- and Dr. Snedeker arrayed himself on 
that side of the question.

KEEP, v.t.

    He willed away his whole estate,
        And then in death he fell asleep,
    Murmuring:  "Well, at any rate,
        My name unblemished I shall keep."
    But when upon the tomb 'twas wrought
    Whose was it? -- for the dead keep naught.
                                                     Durang Gophel Arn

KILL, v.t.  To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.

KILT, n.  A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and 
Americans in Scotland.

KINDNESS, n.  A brief preface to ten volumes of exaction.

KING, n.  A male person commonly known in America as a "crowned head," 
although he never wears a crown and has usually no head to speak of.

    A king, in times long, long gone by,
        Said to his lazy jester:
    "If I were you and you were I
    My moments merrily would fly --
        Nor care nor grief to pester."

    "The reason, Sire, that you would thrive,"
        The fool said -- "if you'll hear it --
    Is that of all the fools alive
    Who own you for their sovereign, I've
        The most forgiving spirit."
                                                             Oogum Bem

KING’s EVIL, n.  A malady that was formerly cured by the touch of the 
sovereign, but has now to be treated by the physicians.  Thus 'the 
most pious Edward" of England used to lay his royal hand upon the 
ailing subjects and make them whole --

                    a crowd of wretched souls
    That stay his cure:  their malady convinces
    The great essay of art; but at his touch,
    Such sanctity hath Heaven given his hand,
    They presently amend,

as the "Doctor" in _Macbeth_ hath it.  This useful property of the 
royal hand could, it appears, be transmitted along with other crown 
properties; for according to "Malcolm,"

                            'tis spoken
    To the succeeding royalty he leaves
    The healing benediction.

    But the gift somewhere dropped out of the line of succession:  the 
later sovereigns of England have not been tactual healers, and the 
disease once honored with the name "king’s evil" now bears the humbler 
one of "scrofula," from _scrofa_, a sow.  The date and author of the 
following epigram are known only to the author of this dictionary, but 
it is old enough to show that the jest about Scotland’s national 
disorder is not a thing of yesterday.

    Ye Kynge his evill in me laye,
    Wh. he of Scottlande charmed awaye.
    He layde his hand on mine and sayd:
    "Be gone!"  Ye ill no longer stayd.
    But O ye wofull plyght in wh.
    I'm now y-pight:  I have ye itche!

    The superstition that maladies can be cured by royal taction is 
dead, but like many a departed conviction it has left a monument of 
custom to keep its memory green.  The practice of forming a line and 
shaking the President’s hand had no other origin, and when that great 
dignitary bestows his healing salutation on

                        strangely visited people,
    All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
    The mere despair of surgery,

he and his patients are handing along an extinguished torch which once 
was kindled at the altar-fire of a faith long held by all classes of 
men.  It is a beautiful and edifying "survival" -- one which brings 
the sainted past close home in our "business and bosoms."

KISS, n.  A word invented by the poets as a rhyme for "bliss."  It is 
supposed to signify, in a general way, some kind of rite or ceremony 
appertaining to a good understanding; but the manner of its 
performance is unknown to this lexicographer.

KLEPTOMANIAC, n.  A rich thief.


    Once a warrior gentle of birth,
    Then a person of civic worth,
    Now a fellow to move our mirth.
    Warrior, person, and fellow -- no more:
    We must knight our dogs to get any lower.
    Brave Knights Kennelers then shall be,
    Noble Knights of the Golden Flea,
    Knights of the Order of St. Steboy,
    Knights of St. Gorge and Sir Knights Jawy.
    God speed the day when this knighting fad
    Shall go to the dogs and the dogs go mad.

KORAN, n.  A book which the Mohammedans foolishly believe to have been 
written by divine inspiration, but which Christians know to be a 
wicked imposture, contradictory to the Holy Scriptures.


LABOR, n.  One of the processes by which A acquires property for B.

LAND, n.  A part of the earth’s surface, considered as property.  The 
theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control 
is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the 
superstructure.  Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some 
have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own 
implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass 
are enacted wherever property in land is recognized.  It follows that 
if the whole area of _terra firma_ is owned by A, B and C, there will 
be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to 

    A life on the ocean wave,
        A home on the rolling deep,
    For the spark the nature gave
        I have there the right to keep.

    They give me the cat-o'-nine
        Whenever I go ashore.
    Then ho! for the flashing brine --
        I'm a natural commodore!

LANGUAGE, n.  The music with which we charm the serpents guarding 
another’s treasure.

LAOCOON, n.  A famous piece of antique scripture representing a priest 
of that name and his two sons in the folds of two enormous serpents.  
The skill and diligence with which the old man and lads support the 
serpents and keep them up to their work have been justly regarded as 
one of the noblest artistic illustrations of the mastery of human 
intelligence over brute inertia.

LAP, n.  One of the most important organs of the female system -- an 
admirable provision of nature for the repose of infancy, but chiefly 
useful in rural festivities to support plates of cold chicken and 
heads of adult males.  The male of our species has a rudimentary lap, 
imperfectly developed and in no way contributing to the animal’s 
substantial welfare.

LAST, n.  A shoemaker’s implement, named by a frowning Providence as 
opportunity to the maker of puns.

    Ah, punster, would my lot were cast,
        Where the cobbler is unknown,
    So that I might forget his last
        And hear your own.
                                                          Gargo Repsky

LAUGHTER, n.  An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the 
features and accompanied by inarticulate noises.  It is infectious 
and, though intermittent, incurable.  Liability to attacks of laughter 
is one of the characteristics distinguishing man from the animals -- 
these being not only inaccessible to the provocation of his example, 
but impregnable to the microbes having original jurisdiction in 
bestowal of the disease.  Whether laughter could be imparted to 
animals by inoculation from the human patient is a question that has 
not been answered by experimentation.  Dr. Meir Witchell holds that 
the infection character of laughter is due to the instantaneous 
fermentation of _sputa_ diffused in a spray.  From this peculiarity he 
names the disorder _Convulsio spargens_.

LAUREATE, adj.  Crowned with leaves of the laurel.  In England the 
Poet Laureate is an officer of the sovereign’s court, acting as 
dancing skeleton at every royal feast and singing-mute at every royal 
funeral.  Of all incumbents of that high office, Robert Southey had 
the most notable knack at drugging the Samson of public joy and 
cutting his hair to the quick; and he had an artistic color-sense 
which enabled him so to blacken a public grief as to give it the 
aspect of a national crime.

LAUREL, n.  The _laurus_, a vegetable dedicated to Apollo, and 
formerly defoliated to wreathe the brows of victors and such poets as 
had influence at court.  (_Vide supra._)

LAW, n.

    Once Law was sitting on the bench,
        And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
    "Clear out!" he cried, "disordered wench!
        Nor come before me creeping.
    Upon your knees if you appear,
    'Tis plain your have no standing here."

    Then Justice came.  His Honor cried:
        "_Your_ status? -- devil seize you!"
    "_Amica curiae,_" she replied --
        "Friend of the court, so please you."
    "Begone!" he shouted -- "there’s the door --
    I never saw your face before!"

LAWFUL, adj.  Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.

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

LAZINESS, n.  Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.

LEAD, n.  A heavy blue-gray metal much used in giving stability to 
light lovers -- particularly to those who love not wisely but other 
men’s wives.  Lead is also of great service as a counterpoise to an 
argument of such weight that it turns the scale of debate the wrong 
way.  An interesting fact in the chemistry of international 
controversy is that at the point of contact of two patriotisms lead is 
precipitated in great quantities.

    Hail, holy Lead! -- of human feuds the great
        And universal arbiter; endowed
        With penetration to pierce any cloud
    Fogging the field of controversial hate,
    And with a sift, inevitable, straight,
        Searching precision find the unavowed
        But vital point.  Thy judgment, when allowed
    By the chirurgeon, settles the debate.
    O useful metal! -- were it not for thee
        We'd grapple one another’s ears alway:
    But when we hear thee buzzing like a bee
        We, like old Muhlenberg, "care not to stay."
    And when the quick have run away like pellets
    Jack Satan smelts the dead to make new bullets.

LEARNING, n.  The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.

LECTURER, n.  One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear 
and his faith in your patience.

LEGACY, n.  A gift from one who is legging it out of this vale of 

LEONINE, adj.  Unlike a menagerie lion.  Leonine verses are those in 
which a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word at the end, as 
in this famous passage from Bella Peeler Silcox:

    The electric light invades the dunnest deep of Hades.
    Cries Pluto, 'twixt his snores:  "O tempora! O mores!"

    It should be explained that Mrs. Silcox does not undertake to 
teach pronunciation of the Greek and Latin tongues.  Leonine verses 
are so called in honor of a poet named Leo, whom prosodists appear to 
find a pleasure in believing to have been the first to discover that a 
rhyming couplet could be run into a single line.

LETTUCE, n.  An herb of the genus _Lactuca_, "Wherewith," says that 
pious gastronome, Hengist Pelly, "God has been pleased to reward the 
good and punish the wicked.  For by his inner light the righteous man 
has discerned a manner of compounding for it a dressing to the 
appetency whereof a multitude of gustible condiments conspire, being 
reconciled and ameliorated with profusion of oil, the entire 
comestible making glad the heart of the godly and causing his face to 
shine.  But the person of spiritual unworth is successfully tempted to 
the Adversary to eat of lettuce with destitution of oil, mustard, egg, 
salt and garlic, and with a rascal bath of vinegar polluted with 
sugar.  Wherefore the person of spiritual unworth suffers an 
intestinal pang of strange complexity and raises the song."

LEVIATHAN, n.  An enormous aquatic animal mentioned by Job.  Some 
suppose it to have been the whale, but that distinguished 
ichthyologer, Dr. Jordan, of Stanford University, maintains with 
considerable heat that it was a species of gigantic Tadpole (_Thaddeus 
Polandensis_) or Polliwig -- _Maria pseudo-hirsuta_.  For an 
exhaustive description and history of the Tadpole consult the famous 
monograph of Jane Potter, _Thaddeus of Warsaw_.

LEXICOGRAPHER, n.  A pestilent fellow who, under the pretense of 
recording some particular stage in the development of a language, does 
what he can to arrest its growth, stiffen its flexibility and 
mechanize its methods.  For your lexicographer, having written his 
dictionary, comes to be considered "as one having authority," whereas 
his function is only to make a record, not to give a law.  The natural 
servility of the human understanding having invested him with judicial 
power, surrenders its right of reason and submits itself to a 
chronicle as if it were a statue.  Let the dictionary (for example) 
mark a good word as "obsolete" or "obsolescent" and few men 
thereafter venture to use it, whatever their need of it and however 
desirable its restoration to favor -- whereby the process of 
improverishment is accelerated and speech decays.  On the contrary, 
recognizing the truth that language must grow by innovation if it grow 
at all, makes new words and uses the old in an unfamiliar sense, has 
no following and is tartly reminded that "it isn't in the dictionary" 
-- although down to the time of the first lexicographer (Heaven 
forgive him!) no author ever had used a word that _was_ in the 
dictionary.  In the golden prime and high noon of English speech; when 
from the lips of the great Elizabethans fell words that made their own 
meaning and carried it in their very sound; when a Shakespeare and a 
Bacon were possible, and the language now rapidly perishing at one end 
and slowly renewed at the other was in vigorous growth and hardy 
preservation -- sweeter than honey and stronger than a lion -- the 
lexicographer was a person unknown, the dictionary a creation which 
his Creator had not created him to create.

    God said:  "Let Spirit perish into Form,"
    And lexicographers arose, a swarm!
    Thought fled and left her clothing, which they took,
    And catalogued each garment in a book.
    Now, from her leafy covert when she cries:
    "Give me my clothes and I'll return," they rise
    And scan the list, and say without compassion:
    "Excuse us -- they are mostly out of fashion."
                                                       Sigismund Smith

LIAR, n.  A lawyer with a roving commission.

LIBERTY, n.  One of Imagination’s most precious possessions.

    The rising People, hot and out of breath,
    Roared around the palace:  "Liberty or death!"
    "If death will do," the King said, "let me reign;
    You'll have, I'm sure, no reason to complain."
                                                      Martha Braymance

LICKSPITTLE, n.  A useful functionary, not infrequently found editing 
a newspaper.  In his character of editor he is closely allied to the 
blackmailer by the tie of occasional identity; for in truth the 
lickspittle is only the blackmailer under another aspect, although the 
latter is frequently found as an independent species.  Lickspittling 
is more detestable than blackmailing, precisely as the business of a 
confidence man is more detestable than that of a highway robber; and 
the parallel maintains itself throughout, for whereas few robbers will 
cheat, every sneak will plunder if he dare.

LIFE, n.  A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.  We live 
in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed.  
The question, "Is life worth living?" has been much discussed; 
particularly by those who think it is not, many of whom have written 
at great length in support of their view and by careful observance of 
the laws of health enjoyed for long terms of years the honors of 
successful controversy.

    "Life’s not worth living, and that’s the truth,"
    Carelessly caroled the golden youth.
    In manhood still he maintained that view
    And held it more strongly the older he grew.
    When kicked by a jackass at eighty-three,
    "Go fetch me a surgeon at once!" cried he.
                                                             Han Soper

LIGHTHOUSE, n.  A tall building on the seashore in which the 
government maintains a lamp and the friend of a politician.

LIMB, n.  The branch of a tree or the leg of an American woman.

    'Twas a pair of boots that the lady bought,
        And the salesman laced them tight
        To a very remarkable height --
    Higher, indeed, than I think he ought --
        Higher than _can_ be right.
    For the Bible declares -- but never mind:
        It is hardly fit
    To censure freely and fault to find
    With others for sins that I'm not inclined
        Myself to commit.
    Each has his weakness, and though my own
        Is freedom from every sin,
        It still were unfair to pitch in,
    Discharging the first censorious stone.
    Besides, the truth compels me to say,
    The boots in question were _made_ that way.
    As he drew the lace she made a grimace,
        And blushingly said to him:
    "This boot, I'm sure, is too high to endure,
    It hurts my -- hurts my -- limb."
    The salesman smiled in a manner mild,
    Like an artless, undesigning child;
    Then, checking himself, to his face he gave
    A look as sorrowful as the grave,
        Though he didn't care two figs
    For her paints and throes,
    As he stroked her toes,
    Remarking with speech and manner just
    Befitting his calling:  "Madam, I trust
        That it doesn't hurt your twigs."
                                                      B. Percival Dike

LINEN, n.  "A kind of cloth the making of which, when made of hemp, 
entails a great waste of hemp." -- Calcraft the Hangman.

LITIGANT, n.  A person about to give up his skin for the hope of 
retaining his bones.

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

LIVER, n.  A large red organ thoughtfully provided by nature to be 
bilious with.  The sentiments and emotions which every literary 
anatomist now knows to haunt the heart were anciently believed to 
infest the liver; and even Gascoygne, speaking of the emotional side 
of human nature, calls it "our hepaticall parte."  It was at one time 
considered the seat of life; hence its name -- liver, the thing we 
live with.  The liver is heaven’s best gift to the goose; without it 
that bird would be unable to supply us with the Strasbourg _pate_.

LL.D.  Letters indicating the degree _Legumptionorum Doctor_, one 
learned in laws, gifted with legal gumption.  Some suspicion is cast 
upon this derivation by the fact that the title was formerly _LL.d._, 
and conferred only upon gentlemen distinguished for their wealth.  At 
the date of this writing Columbia University is considering the 
expediency of making another degree for clergymen, in place of the old 
D.D. -- _Damnator Diaboli_.  The new honor will be known as _Sanctorum 
Custus_, and written _$$c_.  The name of the Rev. John Satan has been 
suggested as a suitable recipient by a lover of consistency, who 
points out that Professor Harry Thurston Peck has long enjoyed the 
advantage of a degree.

LOCK-AND-KEY, n.  The distinguishing device of civilization and 

LODGER, n.  A less popular name for the Second Person of that 
delectable newspaper Trinity, the Roomer, the Bedder, and the Mealer.

LOGIC, n.  The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with 
the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.  The 
basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor 
premise and a conclusion -- thus:
    _Major Premise_:  Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as 
quickly as one man.
    _Minor Premise_:  One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; 
therefore --
    _Conclusion_:  Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.
    This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by 
combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are 
twice blessed.

LOGOMACHY, n.  A war in which the weapons are words and the wounds 
punctures in the swim-bladder of self-esteem -- a kind of contest in 
which, the vanquished being unconscious of defeat, the victor is 
denied the reward of success.

    'Tis said by divers of the scholar-men
    That poor Salmasius died of Milton’s pen.
    Alas! we cannot know if this is true,
    For reading Milton’s wit we perish too.

LOGANIMITY, n.  The disposition to endure injury with meek forbearance 
while maturing a plan of revenge.

LONGEVITY, n.  Uncommon extension of the fear of death.

LOOKING-GLASS, n.  A vitreous plane upon which to display a fleeting 
show for man’s disillusion given.
    The King of Manchuria had a magic looking-glass, whereon whoso 
looked saw, not his own image, but only that of the king.  A certain 
courtier who had long enjoyed the king’s favor and was thereby 
enriched beyond any other subject of the realm, said to the king:  
"Give me, I pray, thy wonderful mirror, so that when absent out of 
thine august presence I may yet do homage before thy visible shadow, 
prostrating myself night and morning in the glory of thy benign 
countenance, as which nothing has so divine splendor, O Noonday Sun of 
the Universe!"
    Please with the speech, the king commanded that the mirror be 
conveyed to the courtier’s palace; but after, having gone thither 
without apprisal, he found it in an apartment where was naught but 
idle lumber.  And the mirror was dimmed with dust and overlaced with 
cobwebs.  This so angered him that he fisted it hard, shattering the 
glass, and was sorely hurt.  Enraged all the more by this mischance, 
he commanded that the ungrateful courtier be thrown into prison, and 
that the glass be repaired and taken back to his own palace; and this 
was done.  But when the king looked again on the mirror he saw not his 
image as before, but only the figure of a crowned ass, having a bloody 
bandage on one of its hinder hooves -- as the artificers and all who 
had looked upon it had before discerned but feared to report.  Taught 
wisdom and charity, the king restored his courtier to liberty, had the 
mirror set into the back of the throne and reigned many years with 
justice and humility; and one day when he fell asleep in death while 
on the throne, the whole court saw in the mirror the luminous figure 
of an angel, which remains to this day.

LOQUACITY, n.  A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb 
his tongue when you wish to talk.

LORD, n.  In American society, an English tourist above the state of a 
costermonger, as, lord 'Aberdasher, Lord Hartisan and so forth.  The 
traveling Briton of lesser degree is addressed as "Sir," as, Sir 'Arry 
Donkiboi, or 'Amstead 'Eath.  The word "Lord" is sometimes used, also, 
as a title of the Supreme Being; but this is thought to be rather 
flattery than true reverence.

    Miss Sallie Ann Splurge, of her own accord,
    Wedded a wandering English lord --
    Wedded and took him to dwell with her "paw,"
    A parent who throve by the practice of Draw.
    Lord Cadde I don't hesitate to declare
    Unworthy the father-in-legal care
    Of that elderly sport, notwithstanding the truth
    That Cadde had renounced all the follies of youth;
    For, sad to relate, he'd arrived at the stage
    Of existence that’s marked by the vices of age.
    Among them, cupidity caused him to urge
    Repeated demands on the pocket of Splurge,
    Till, wrecked in his fortune, that gentleman saw
    Inadequate aid in the practice of Draw,
    And took, as a means of augmenting his pelf,
    To the business of being a lord himself.
    His neat-fitting garments he wilfully shed
    And sacked himself strangely in checks instead;
    Denuded his chin, but retained at each ear
    A whisker that looked like a blasted career.
    He painted his neck an incarnadine hue
    Each morning and varnished it all that he knew.
    The moony monocular set in his eye
    Appeared to be scanning the Sweet Bye-and-Bye.
    His head was enroofed with a billycock hat,
    And his low-necked shoes were aduncous and flat.
    In speech he eschewed his American ways,
    Denying his nose to the use of his A’s
    And dulling their edge till the delicate sense
    Of a babe at their temper could take no offence.
    His H’s -- 'twas most inexpressibly sweet,
    The patter they made as they fell at his feet!
    Re-outfitted thus, Mr. Splurge without fear
    Began as Lord Splurge his recouping career.
    Alas, the Divinity shaping his end
    Entertained other views and decided to send
    His lordship in horror, despair and dismay
    From the land of the nobleman’s natural prey.
    For, smit with his Old World ways, Lady Cadde
    Fell -- suffering Caesar! -- in love with her dad!

LORE, n.  Learning -- particularly that sort which is not derived from 
a regular course of instruction but comes of the reading of occult 
books, or by nature.  This latter is commonly designated as folk-lore 
and embraces popularly myths and superstitions.  In Baring-Gould’s 
_Curious Myths of the Middle Ages_ the reader will find many of these 
traced backward, through various people son converging lines, toward a 
common origin in remote antiquity.  Among these are the fables of 
"Teddy the Giant Killer," "The Sleeping John Sharp Williams," "Little 
Red Riding Hood and the Sugar Trust," "Beauty and the Brisbane," "The 
Seven Aldermen of Ephesus," "Rip Van Fairbanks," and so forth.  The 
fable with Goethe so affectingly relates under the title of "The Erl- 
King" was known two thousand years ago in Greece as "The Demos and the 
Infant Industry."  One of the most general and ancient of these myths 
is that Arabian tale of "Ali Baba and the Forty Rockefellers."

LOSS, n.  Privation of that which we had, or had not.  Thus, in the 
latter sense, it is said of a defeated candidate that he "lost his 
election"; and of that eminent man, the poet Gilder, that he has "lost 
his mind."  It is in the former and more legitimate sense, that the 
word is used in the famous epitaph:

    Here Huntington’s ashes long have lain
    Whose loss is our eternal gain,
    For while he exercised all his powers
    Whatever he gained, the loss was ours.

LOVE, n.  A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of 
the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.  
This disease, like _caries_ and many other ailments, is prevalent only 
among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous 
nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from 
its ravages.  It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the 
physician than to the patient.

LOW-BRED, adj.  "Raised" instead of brought up.

LUMINARY, n.  One who throws light upon a subject; as an editor by not 
writing about it.

LUNARIAN, n.  An inhabitant of the moon, as distinguished from 
Lunatic, one whom the moon inhabits.  The Lunarians have been 
described by Lucian, Locke and other observers, but without much 
agreement.  For example, Bragellos avers their anatomical identity 
with Man, but Professor Newcomb says they are more like the hill 
tribes of Vermont.

LYRE, n.  An ancient instrument of torture.  The word is now used in a 
figurative sense to denote the poetic faculty, as in the following 
fiery lines of our great poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

    I sit astride Parnassus with my lyre,
    And pick with care the disobedient wire.
    That stupid shepherd lolling on his crook
    With deaf attention scarcely deigns to look.
    I bide my time, and it shall come at length,
    When, with a Titan’s energy and strength,
    I'll grab a fistful of the strings, and O,
    The word shall suffer when I let them go!
                                                    Farquharson Harris


MACE, n.  A staff of office signifying authority.  Its form, that of a 
heavy club, indicates its original purpose and use in dissuading from 

MACHINATION, n.  The method employed by one’s opponents in baffling 
one’s open and honorable efforts to do the right thing.

    So plain the advantages of machination
    It constitutes a moral obligation,
    And honest wolves who think upon't with loathing
    Feel bound to don the sheep’s deceptive clothing.
    So prospers still the diplomatic art,
    And Satan bows, with hand upon his heart.

MACROBIAN, n.  One forgotten of the gods and living to a great age.  
History is abundantly supplied with examples, from Methuselah to Old 
Parr, but some notable instances of longevity are less well known.  A 
Calabrian peasant named Coloni, born in 1753, lived so long that he 
had what he considered a glimpse of the dawn of universal peace.  
Scanavius relates that he knew an archbishop who was so old that he 
could remember a time when he did not deserve hanging.  In 1566 a 
linen draper of Bristol, England, declared that he had lived five 
hundred years, and that in all that time he had never told a lie.  
There are instances of longevity (_macrobiosis_) in our own country.  
Senator Chauncey Depew is old enough to know better.  The editor of 
_The American_, a newspaper in New York City, has a memory that goes 
back to the time when he was a rascal, but not to the fact.  The 
President of the United States was born so long ago that many of the 
friends of his youth have risen to high political and military 
preferment without the assistance of personal merit.  The verses 
following were written by a macrobian:

    When I was young the world was fair
        And amiable and sunny.
    A brightness was in all the air,
        In all the waters, honey.
        The jokes were fine and funny,
    The statesmen honest in their views,
        And in their lives, as well,
    And when you heard a bit of news
        'Twas true enough to tell.
    Men were not ranting, shouting, reeking,
    Nor women "generally speaking."

    The Summer then was long indeed:
        It lasted one whole season!
    The sparkling Winter gave no heed
        When ordered by Unreason
        To bring the early peas on.
    Now, where the dickens is the sense
        In calling that a year
    Which does no more than just commence
        Before the end is near?
    When I was young the year extended
    From month to month until it ended.

    I know not why the world has changed
        To something dark and dreary,
    And everything is now arranged
        To make a fellow weary.
        The Weather Man -- I fear he
    Has much to do with it, for, sure,
        The air is not the same:
    It chokes you when it is impure,
        When pure it makes you lame.
    With windows closed you are asthmatic;
    Open, neuralgic or sciatic.

    Well, I suppose this new regime
        Of dun degeneration
    Seems eviler than it would seem
        To a better observation,
        And has for compensation
    Some blessings in a deep disguise
        Which mortal sight has failed
    To pierce, although to angels' eyes
        They're visible unveiled.
    If Age is such a boon, good land!
    He’s costumed by a master hand!
                                                        Venable Strigg

MAD, adj.  Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; 
not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by 
the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; 
in short, unusual.  It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad 
by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane.  For 
illustration, this present (and illustrious) lexicographer is no 
firmer in the faith of his own sanity than is any inmate of any 
madhouse in the land; yet for aught he knows to the contrary, instead 
of the lofty occupation that seems to him to be engaging his powers he 
may really be beating his hands against the window bars of an asylum 
and declaring himself Noah Webster, to the innocent delight of many 
thoughtless spectators.

MAGDALENE, n.  An inhabitant of Magdala.  Popularly, a woman found 
out.  This definition of the word has the authority of ignorance, Mary 
of Magdala being another person than the penitent woman mentioned by 
St. Luke.  It has also the official sanction of the governments of 
Great Britain and the United States.  In England the word is 
pronounced Maudlin, whence maudlin, adjective, unpleasantly 
sentimental.  With their Maudlin for Magdalene, and their Bedlam for 
Bethlehem, the English may justly boast themselves the greatest of 

MAGIC, n.  An art of converting superstition into coin.  There are 
other arts serving the same high purpose, but the discreet 
lexicographer does not name them.

MAGNET, n.  Something acted upon by magnetism.

MAGNETISM, n.  Something acting upon a magnet.
    The two definitions immediately foregoing are condensed from the 
works of one thousand eminent scientists, who have illuminated the 
subject with a great white light, to the inexpressible advancement of 
human knowledge.

MAGNIFICENT, adj.  Having a grandeur or splendor superior to that to 
which the spectator is accustomed, as the ears of an ass, to a rabbit, 
or the glory of a glowworm, to a maggot.

MAGNITUDE, n.  Size.  Magnitude being purely relative, nothing is 
large and nothing small.  If everything in the universe were increased 
in bulk one thousand diameters nothing would be any larger than it was 
before, but if one thing remain unchanged all the others would be 
larger than they had been.  To an understanding familiar with the 
relativity of magnitude and distance the spaces and masses of the 
astronomer would be no more impressive than those of the microscopist.  
For anything we know to the contrary, the visible universe may be a 
small part of an atom, with its component ions, floating in the life- 
fluid (luminiferous ether) of some animal.  Possibly the wee creatures 
peopling the corpuscles of our own blood are overcome with the proper 
emotion when contemplating the unthinkable distance from one of these 
to another.

MAGPIE, n.  A bird whose thievish disposition suggested to someone 
that it might be taught to talk.

MAIDEN, n.  A young person of the unfair sex addicted to clewless 
conduct and views that madden to crime.  The genus has a wide 
geographical distribution, being found wherever sought and deplored 
wherever found.  The maiden is not altogether unpleasing to the eye, 
nor (without her piano and her views) insupportable to the ear, though 
in respect to comeliness distinctly inferior to the rainbow, and, with 
regard to the part of her that is audible, bleating out of the field 
by the canary -- which, also, is more portable.

    A lovelorn maiden she sat and sang --
        This quaint, sweet song sang she;
    "It’s O for a youth with a football bang
        And a muscle fair to see!
                The Captain he
                Of a team to be!
    On the gridiron he shall shine,
    A monarch by right divine,
        And never to roast on it -- me!"
                                                         Opoline Jones

MAJESTY, n.  The state and title of a king.  Regarded with a just 
contempt by the Most Eminent Grand Masters, Grand Chancellors, Great 
Incohonees and Imperial Potentates of the ancient and honorable orders 
of republican America.

MALE, n.  A member of the unconsidered, or negligible sex.  The male 
of the human race is commonly known (to the female) as Mere Man.  The 
genus has two varieties:  good providers and bad providers.

MALEFACTOR, n.  The chief factor in the progress of the human race.

MALTHUSIAN, adj.  Pertaining to Malthus and his doctrines.  Malthus 
believed in artificially limiting population, but found that it could 
not be done by talking.  One of the most practical exponents of the 
Malthusian idea was Herod of Judea, though all the famous soldiers 
have been of the same way of thinking.

MAMMALIA,  A family of vertebrate animals whose females in a 
state of nature suckle their young, but when civilized and enlightened 
put them out to nurse, or use the bottle.

MAMMON, n.  The god of the world’s leading religion.  The chief temple 
is in the holy city of New York.

    He swore that all other religions were gammon,
    And wore out his knees in the worship of Mammon.
                                                            Jared Oopf

MAN, n.  An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he 
thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be.  His 
chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own 
species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to 
infest the whole habitable earh and Canada.

    When the world was young and Man was new,
        And everything was pleasant,
    Distinctions Nature never drew
        'Mongst kings and priest and peasant.
        We're not that way at present,
    Save here in this Republic, where
        We have that old regime,
    For all are kings, however bare
        Their backs, howe'er extreme
    Their hunger.  And, indeed, each has a voice
    To accept the tyrant of his party’s choice.

    A citizen who would not vote,
        And, therefore, was detested,
    Was one day with a tarry coat
        (With feathers backed and breasted)
        By patriots invested.
    "It is your duty," cried the crowd,
        "Your ballot true to cast
    For the man o' your choice."  He humbly bowed,
        And explained his wicked past:
    "That’s what I very gladly would have done,
    Dear patriots, but he has never run."
                                                         Apperton Duke

MANES, n.  The immortal parts of dead Greeks and Romans.  They were in 
a state of dull discomfort until the bodies from which they had 
exhaled were buried and burned; and they seem not to have been 
particularly happy afterward.

MANICHEISM, n.  The ancient Persian doctrine of an incessant warfare 
between Good and Evil.  When Good gave up the fight the Persians 
joined the victorious Opposition.

MANNA, n.  A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the 
wilderness.  When it was no longer supplied to them they settled 
down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies 
of the original occupants.

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

MARTYR, n.  One who moves along the line of least reluctance to a 
desired death.

MATERIAL, adj.  Having an actual existence, as distinguished from an 
imaginary one.  Important.

    Material things I know, or fell, or see;
    All else is immaterial to me.
                                                      Jamrach Holobom

MAUSOLEUM, n.  The final and funniest folly of the rich.

MAYONNAISE, n.  One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a 
state religion.

ME, pro.  The objectionable case of I.  The personal pronoun in 
English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the 
oppressive.  Each is all three.

MEANDER, n.  To proceed sinuously and aimlessly.  The word is the 
ancient name of a river about one hundred and fifty miles south of 
Troy, which turned and twisted in the effort to get out of hearing 
when the Greeks and Trojans boasted of their prowess.

MEDAL, n.  A small metal disk given as a reward for virtues, 
attainments or services more or less authentic.
    It is related of Bismark, who had been awarded a medal for 
gallantly rescuing a drowning person, that, being asked the meaning of 
the medal, he replied:  "I save lives sometimes."  And sometimes he 

MEDICINE, n.  A stone flung down the Bowery to kill a dog in Broadway.

MEEKNESS, n.  Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth 

    M is for Moses,
        Who slew the Egyptian.
    As sweet as a rose is
    The meekness of Moses.
    No monument shows his
        Post-mortem inscription,
    But M is for Moses
        Who slew the Egyptian.
                                           _The Biographical Alphabet_
MEERSCHAUM, n.  (Literally, seafoam, and by many erroneously supposed 
to be made of it.)  A fine white clay, which for convenience in 
coloring it brown is made into tobacco pipes and smoked by the workmen 
engaged in that industry.  The purpose of coloring it has not been 
disclosed by the manufacturers.

    There was a youth (you've heard before,
        This woeful tale, may be),
    Who bought a meerschaum pipe and swore
        That color it would he!

    He shut himself from the world away,
        Nor any soul he saw.
    He smoke by night, he smoked by day,
        As hard as he could draw.

    His dog died moaning in the wrath
        Of winds that blew aloof;
    The weeds were in the gravel path,
        The owl was on the roof.

    "He’s gone afar, he'll come no more,"
        The neighbors sadly say.
    And so they batter in the door
        To take his goods away.

    Dead, pipe in mouth, the youngster lay,
        Nut-brown in face and limb.
    "That pipe’s a lovely white," they say,
        "But it has colored him!"

    The moral there’s small need to sing --
        'Tis plain as day to you:
    Don't play your game on any thing
        That is a gamester too.
                                                      Martin Bulstrode

MENDACIOUS, adj.  Addicted to rhetoric.

MERCHANT, n.  One engaged in a commercial pursuit.  A commercial 
pursuit is one in which the thing pursued is a dollar.

MERCY, n.  An attribute beloved of detected offenders.

MESMERISM, n.  Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage 
and asked Incredulity to dinner.

METROPOLIS, n.  A stronghold of provincialism.

MILLENNIUM, n.  The period of a thousand years when the lid is to be 
screwed down, with all reformers on the under side.

MIND, n.  A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain.  Its 
chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, 
the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing 
but itself to know itself with.  From the Latin _mens_, a fact unknown 
to that honest shoe-seller, who, observing that his learned competitor 
over the way had displayed the motto "_Mens conscia recti_," 
emblazoned his own front with the words "Men’s, women’s and children’s 
conscia recti."

MINE, adj.  Belonging to me if I can hold or seize it.

MINISTER, n.  An agent of a higher power with a lower responsibility.  
In diplomacy and officer sent into a foreign country as the visible 
embodiment of his sovereign’s hostility.  His principal qualification 
is a degree of plausible inveracity next below that of an ambassador.

MINOR, adj.  Less objectionable.

MINSTREL, adj.  Formerly a poet, singer or musician; now a nigger with 
a color less than skin deep and a humor more than flesh and blood can 

MIRACLE, n.  An act or event out of the order of nature and 
unaccountable, as beating a normal hand of four kings and an ace with 
four aces and a king.

MISCREANT, n.  A person of the highest degree of unworth.  
Etymologically, the word means unbeliever, and its present 
signification may be regarded as theology’s noblest contribution to 
the development of our language.

MISDEMEANOR, n.  An infraction of the law having less dignity than a 
felony and constituting no claim to admittance into the best criminal 

    By misdemeanors he essays to climb
    Into the aristocracy of crime.
    O, woe was him! -- with manner chill and grand
    "Captains of industry" refused his hand,
    "Kings of finance" denied him recognition
    And "railway magnates" jeered his low condition.
    He robbed a bank to make himself respected.
    They still rebuffed him, for he was detected.
                                                          S.V. Hanipur

MISERICORDE, n.  A dagger which in mediaeval warfare was used by the 
foot soldier to remind an unhorsed knight that he was mortal.

MISFORTUNE, n.  The kind of fortune that never misses.

MISS, n.  The title with which we brand unmarried women to indicate 
that they are in the market.  Miss, Missis (Mrs.) and Mister (Mr.) are 
the three most distinctly disagreeable words in the language, in sound 
and sense.  Two are corruptions of Mistress, the other of Master.  In 
the general abolition of social titles in this our country they 
miraculously escaped to plague us.  If we must have them let us be 
consistent and give one to the unmarried man.  I venture to suggest 
Mush, abbreviated to Mh.

MOLECULE, n.  The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter.  It is 
distinguished from the corpuscle, also the ultimate, indivisible unit 
of matter, by a closer resemblance to the atom, also the ultimate, 
indivisible unit of matter.  Three great scientific theories of the 
structure of the universe are the molecular, the corpuscular and the 
atomic.  A fourth affirms, with Haeckel, the condensation of 
precipitation of matter from ether -- whose existence is proved by the 
condensation of precipitation.  The present trend of scientific 
thought is toward the theory of ions.  The ion differs from the 
molecule, the corpuscle and the atom in that it is an ion.  A fifth 
theory is held by idiots, but it is doubtful if they know any more 
about the matter than the others.

MONAD, n.  The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter.  (See 
_Molecule_.)  According to Leibnitz, as nearly as he seems willing to 
be understood, the monad has body without bulk, and mind without 
manifestation -- Leibnitz knows him by the innate power of 
considering.  He has founded upon him a theory of the universe, which 
the creature bears without resentment, for the monad is a gentlmean.  
Small as he is, the monad contains all the powers and possibilities 
needful to his evolution into a German philosopher of the first class 
-- altogether a very capable little fellow.  He is not to be 
confounded with the microbe, or bacillus; by its inability to discern 
him, a good microscope shows him to be of an entirely distinct 

MONARCH, n.  A person engaged in reigning.  Formerly the monarch 
ruled, as the derivation of the word attests, and as many subjects 
have had occasion to learn.  In Russia and the Orient the monarch has 
still a considerable influence in public affairs and in the 
disposition of the human head, but in western Europe political 
administration is mostly entrusted to his ministers, he being 
somewhat preoccupied with reflections relating to the status of his 
own head.


MONDAY, n.  In Christian countries, the day after the baseball game.

MONEY, n.  A blessing that is of no advantage to us excepting when we 
part with it.  An evidence of culture and a passport to polite 
society.  Supportable property.

MONKEY, n.  An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in 
genealogical trees.

MONOSYLLABIC, adj.  Composed of words of one syllable, for literary 
babes who never tire of testifying their delight in the vapid compound 
by appropriate googoogling.  The words are commonly Saxon -- that is 
to say, words of a barbarous people destitute of ideas and incapable 
of any but the most elementary sentiments and emotions.

    The man who writes in Saxon
    Is the man to use an ax on

MONSIGNOR, n.  A high ecclesiastical title, of which the Founder of 
our religion overlooked the advantages.

MONUMENT, n.  A structure intended to commemorate something which 
either needs no commemoration or cannot be commemorated.

    The bones of Agammemnon are a show,
    And ruined is his royal monument,

but Agammemnon’s fame suffers no diminution in consequence.  The 
monument custom has its _reductiones ad absurdum_ in monuments "to the 
unknown dead" -- that is to say, monuments to perpetuate the memory of 
those who have left no memory.

MORAL, adj.  Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right.  
Having the quality of general expediency.

        It is sayd there be a raunge of mountaynes in the Easte, on 
one syde of the which certayn conducts are immorall, yet on the other 
syde they are holden in good esteeme; wherebye the mountayneer is much 
conveenyenced, for it is given to him to goe downe eyther way and act 
as it shall suite his moode, withouten offence.
                                                 _Gooke’s Meditations_

MORE, adj.  The comparative degree of too much.

MOUSE, n.  An animal which strews its path with fainting women.  As in 
Rome Christians were thrown to the lions, so centuries earlier in 
Otumwee, the most ancient and famous city of the world, female 
heretics were thrown to the mice.  Jakak-Zotp, the historian, the only 
Otumwump whose writings have descended to us, says that these martyrs 
met their death with little dignity and much exertion.  He even 
attempts to exculpate the mice (such is the malice of bigotry) by 
declaring that the unfortunate women perished, some from exhaustion, 
some of broken necks from falling over their own feet, and some from 
lack of restoratives.  The mice, he avers, enjoyed the pleasures of 
the chase with composure.  But if "Roman history is nine-tenths 
lying," we can hardly expect a smaller proportion of that rhetorical 
figure in the annals of a people capable of so incredible cruelty to a 
lovely women; for a hard heart has a false tongue.

MOUSQUETAIRE, n.  A long glove covering a part of the arm.  Worn in 
New Jersey.  But "mousquetaire" is a might poor way to spell 

MOUTH, n.  In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of 
the heart.

MUGWUMP, n.  In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted 
to the vice of independence.  A term of contempt.

MULATTO, n.  A child of two races, ashamed of both.

MULTITUDE, n.  A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue.  In 
a republic, the object of the statesman’s adoration.  "In a multitude 
of consellors there is wisdom," saith the proverb.  If many men of 
equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be 
that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting 
together.  Whence comes it?  Obviously from nowhere -- as well say 
that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains 
composing it.  A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey 
him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.

MUMMY, n.  An ancient Egyptian, formerly in universal use among modern 
civilized nations as medicine, and now engaged in supplying art with 
an excellent pigment.  He is handy, too, in museums in gratifying the 
vulgar curiosity that serves to distinguish man from the lower 

    By means of the Mummy, mankind, it is said,
    Attests to the gods its respect for the dead.
    We plunder his tomb, be he sinner or saint,
    Distil him for physic and grind him for paint,
    Exhibit for money his poor, shrunken frame,
    And with levity flock to the scene of the shame.
    O, tell me, ye gods, for the use of my rhyme:
    For respecting the dead what’s the limit of time?
                                                          Scopas Brune

MUSTANG, n.  An indocile horse of the western plains.  In English 
society, the American wife of an English nobleman.

MYRMIDON, n.  A follower of Achilles -- particularly when he didn't 

MYTHOLOGY, n.  The body of a primitive people’s beliefs concerning its 
origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished 
from the true accounts which it invents later.


NECTAR, n.  A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities.  The 
secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe 
that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient.

    Juno drank a cup of nectar,
    But the draught did not affect her.
    Juno drank a cup of rye --
    Then she bad herself good-bye.

NEGRO, n.  The _piece de resistance_ in the American political 
problem.  Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to 
build their equation thus:  "Let n = the white man."  This, however, 
appears to give an unsatisfactory solution.

NEIGHBOR, n.  One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who 
does all he knows how to make us disobedient.

NEPOTISM, n.  Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of 
the party.

NEWTONIAN, adj.  Pertaining to a philosophy of the universe invented 
by Newton, who discovered that an apple will fall to the ground, but 
was unable to say why.  His successors and disciples have advanced so 
far as to be able to say when.

NIHILIST, n.  A Russian who denies the existence of anything but 
Tolstoi.  The leader of the school is Tolstoi.

NIRVANA, n.  In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable 
annihilation awarded to the wise, particularly to those wise enough to 
understand it.

NOBLEMAN, n.  Nature’s provision for wealthy American minds ambitious 
to incur social distinction and suffer high life.

NOISE, n.  A stench in the ear.  Undomesticated music.  The chief 
product and authenticating sign of civilization.

NOMINATE, v.  To designate for the heaviest political assessment.  To 
put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting 
of the opposition.

NOMINEE, n.  A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of 
private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public 

NON-COMBATANT, n.  A dead Quaker.

NONSENSE, n.  The objections that are urged against this excellent 

NOSE, n.  The extreme outpost of the face.  From the circumstance that 
great conquerors have great noses, Getius, whose writings antedate the 
age of humor, calls the nose the organ of quell.  It has been observed 
that one’s nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of 
others, from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that 
the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.

        There’s a man with a Nose,
        And wherever he goes
    The people run from him and shout:
        "No cotton have we
        For our ears if so be
    He blow that interminous snout!"

        So the lawyers applied
        For injunction.  "Denied,"
    Said the Judge:  "the defendant prefixion,
        Whate'er it portend,
        Appears to transcend
    The bounds of this court’s jurisdiction."
                                                         Arpad Singiny

NOTORIETY, n.  The fame of one’s competitor for public honors.  The 
kind of renown most accessible and acceptable to mediocrity.  A 
Jacob’s-ladder leading to the vaudeville stage, with angels ascending 
and descending.

NOUMENON, n.  That which exists, as distinguished from that which 
merely seems to exist, the latter being a phenomenon.  The noumenon is 
a bit difficult to locate; it can be apprehended only be a process of 
reasoning -- which is a phenomenon.  Nevertheless, the discovery and 
exposition of noumena offer a rich field for what Lewes calls "the 
endless variety and excitement of philosophic thought."  Hurrah 
(therefore) for the noumenon!

NOVEL, n.  A short story padded.  A species of composition bearing the 
same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art.  As it is 
too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its 
successive parts are successively effaced, as in the panorama.  Unity, 
totality of effect, is impossible; for besides the few pages last read 
all that is carried in mind is the mere plot of what has gone before.  
To the romance the novel is what photography is to painting.  Its 
distinguishing principle, probability, corresponds to the literal 
actuality of the photograph and puts it distinctly into the category 
of reporting; whereas the free wing of the romancer enables him to 
mount to such altitudes of imagination as he may be fitted to attain; 
and the first three essentials of the literary art are imagination, 
imagination and imagination.  The art of writing novels, such as it 
was, is long dead everywhere except in Russia, where it is new.  Peace 
to its ashes -- some of which have a large sale.

NOVEMBER, n.  The eleventh twelfth of a weariness.


OATH, n.  In law, a solemn appeal to the Deity, made binding upon the 
conscience by a penalty for perjury.

OBLIVION, n.  The state or condition in which the wicked cease from 
struggling and the dreary are at rest.  Fame’s eternal dumping ground.  
Cold storage for high hopes.  A place where ambitious authors meet 
their works without pride and their betters without envy.  A dormitory 
without an alarm clock.

OBSERVATORY, n.  A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses 
of their predecessors.

OBSESSED, p.p.  Vexed by an evil spirit, like the Gadarene swine and 
other critics.  Obsession was once more common than it is now.  
Arasthus tells of a peasant who was occupied by a different devil for 
every day in the week, and on Sundays by two.  They were frequently 
seen, always walking in his shadow, when he had one, but were finally 
driven away by the village notary, a holy man; but they took the 
peasant with them, for he vanished utterly.  A devil thrown out of a 
woman by the Archbishop of Rheims ran through the trees, pursued by a 
hundred persons, until the open country was reached, where by a leap 
higher than a church spire he escaped into a bird.  A chaplain in 
Cromwell’s army exorcised a soldier’s obsessing devil by throwing the 
soldier into the water, when the devil came to the surface.  The 
soldier, unfortunately, did not.

OBSOLETE, adj.  No longer used by the timid.  Said chiefly of words.  
A word which some lexicographer has marked obsolete is ever thereafter 
an object of dread and loathing to the fool writer, but if it is a 
good word and has no exact modern equivalent equally good, it is good 
enough for the good writer.  Indeed, a writer’s attitude toward 
"obsolete" words is as true a measure of his literary ability as 
anything except the character of his work.  A dictionary of obsolete 
and obsolescent words would not only be singularly rich in strong and 
sweet parts of speech; it would add large possessions to the 
vocabulary of every competent writer who might not happen to be a 
competent reader.

OBSTINATE, adj.  Inaccessible to the truth as it is manifest in the 
splendor and stress of our advocacy.
    The popular type and exponent of obstinacy is the mule, a most 
intelligent animal.

OCCASIONAL, adj.  Afflicting us with greater or less frequency.  That, 
however, is not the sense in which the word is used in the phrase 
"occasional verses," which are verses written for an "occasion," such 
as an anniversary, a celebration or other event.  True, they afflict 
us a little worse than other sorts of verse, but their name has no 
reference to irregular recurrence.

OCCIDENT, n.  The part of the world lying west (or east) of the 
Orient.  It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful subtribe of 
the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, 
which they are pleased to call "war" and "commerce."  These, also, are 
the principal industries of the Orient.

OCEAN, n.  A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made 
for man -- who has no gills.

OFFENSIVE, adj.  Generating disagreeable emotions or sensations, as 
the advance of an army against its enemy.
    "Were the enemy’s tactics offensive?" the king asked.  "I should 
say so!" replied the unsuccessful general.  "The blackguard wouldn't 
come out of his works!"

OLD, adj.  In that stage of usefulness which is not inconsistent with 
general inefficiency, as an _old man_.  Discredited by lapse of time 
and offensive to the popular taste, as an _old_ book.

    "Old books?  The devil take them!" Goby said.
    "Fresh every day must be my books and bread."
    Nature herself approves the Goby rule
    And gives us every moment a fresh fool.
                                                           Harley Shum

OLEAGINOUS, adj.  Oily, smooth, sleek.
    Disraeli once described the manner of Bishop Wilberforce as 
"unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous."  And the good prelate was ever 
afterward known as Soapy Sam.  For every man there is something in the 
vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin.  His enemies 
have only to find it.

OLYMPIAN, adj.  Relating to a mountain in Thessaly, once inhabited by 
gods, now a repository of yellowing newspapers, beer bottles and 
mutilated sardine cans, attesting the presence of the tourist and his 

    His name the smirking tourist scrawls
    Upon Minerva’s temple walls,
    Where thundered once Olympian Zeus,
    And marks his appetite’s abuse.
                                                           Averil Joop

OMEN, n.  A sign that something will happen if nothing happens.

ONCE, adv.  Enough.

OPERA, n.  A play representing life in another world, whose 
inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures and no 
postures but attitudes.  All acting is simulation, and the word 
_simulation_ is from _simia_, an ape; but in opera the actor takes for 
his model _Simia audibilis_ (or _Pithecanthropos stentor_) -- the ape 
that howls.

    The actor apes a man -- at least in shape;
    The opera performer apes and ape.

OPIATE, n.  An unlocked door in the prison of Identity.  It leads into 
the jail yard.

OPPORTUNITY, n.  A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.

OPPOSE, v.  To assist with obstructions and objections.

    How lonely he who thinks to vex
    With bandinage the Solemn Sex!
    Of levity, Mere Man, beware;
    None but the Grave deserve the Unfair.
                                                     Percy P. Orminder

OPPOSITION, n.  In politics the party that prevents the Government from 
running amuck by hamstringing it.
    The King of Ghargaroo, who had been abroad to study the science of 
government, appointed one hundred of his fattest subjects as members 
of a parliament to make laws for the collection of revenue.  Forty of 
these he named the Party of Opposition and had his Prime Minister 
carefully instruct them in their duty of opposing every royal measure.  
Nevertheless, the first one that was submitted passed unanimously.  
Greatly displeased, the King vetoed it, informing the Opposition that 
if they did that again they would pay for their obstinacy with their 
heads.  The entire forty promptly disemboweled themselves.
    "What shall we do now?" the King asked.  "Liberal institutions 
cannot be maintained without a party of Opposition."
    "Splendor of the universe," replied the Prime Minister, "it is 
true these dogs of darkness have no longer their credentials, but all 
is not lost.  Leave the matter to this worm of the dust."
    So the Minister had the bodies of his Majesty’s Opposition 
embalmed and stuffed with straw, put back into the seats of power and 
nailed there.  Forty votes were recorded against every bill and the 
nation prospered.  But one day a bill imposing a tax on warts was 
defeated -- the members of the Government party had not been nailed to 
their seats!  This so enraged the King that the Prime Minister was put 
to death, the parliament was dissolved with a battery of artillery, 
and government of the people, by the people, for the people perished 
from Ghargaroo.

OPTIMISM, n.  The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, 
including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and 
everything right that is wrong.  It is held with greatest tenacity by 
those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and 
is most acceptably expounded with the grin that apes a smile.  Being a 
blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof -- an 
intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death.  It is 
hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.

OPTIMIST, n.  A proponent of the doctrine that black is white.
    A pessimist applied to God for relief.
    "Ah, you wish me to restore your hope and cheerfulness," said God.
    "No," replied the petitioner, "I wish you to create something that 
would justify them."
    "The world is all created," said God, "but you have overlooked 
something -- the mortality of the optimist."

ORATORY, n.  A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the 
understanding.  A tyranny tempered by stenography.

ORPHAN, n.  A living person whom death has deprived of the power of 
filial ingratitude -- a privation appealing with a particular 
eloquence to all that is sympathetic in human nature.  When young the 
orphan is commonly sent to an asylum, where by careful cultivation of 
its rudimentary sense of locality it is taught to know its place.  It 
is then instructed in the arts of dependence and servitude and 
eventually turned loose to prey upon the world as a bootblack or 
scullery maid.

ORTHODOX, n.  An ox wearing the popular religious joke.

ORTHOGRAPHY, n.  The science of spelling by the eye instead of the 
ear.  Advocated with more heat than light by the outmates of every 
asylum for the insane.  They have had to concede a few things since 
the time of Chaucer, but are none the less hot in defence of those to 
be conceded hereafter.

    A spelling reformer indicted
    For fudge was before the court cicted.
        The judge said:  "Enough --
        His candle we'll snough,
    And his sepulchre shall not be whicted."

OSTRICH, n.  A large bird to which (for its sins, doubtless) nature 
has denied that hinder toe in which so many pious naturalists have 
seen a conspicuous evidence of design.  The absence of a good working 
pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, 
the ostrich does not fly.

OTHERWISE, adv.  No better.

OUTCOME, n.  A particular type of disappointment.  By the kind of 
intelligence that sees in an exception a proof of the rule the wisdom 
of an act is judged by the outcome, the result.  This is immortal 
nonsense; the wisdom of an act is to be juded by the light that the 
doer had when he performed it.

OUTDO, v.t.  To make an enemy.

OUT-OF-DOORS, n.  That part of one’s environment upon which no 
government has been able to collect taxes.  Chiefly useful to inspire 

    I climbed to the top of a mountain one day
        To see the sun setting in glory,
    And I thought, as I looked at his vanishing ray,
        Of a perfectly splendid story.

    'Twas about an old man and the ass he bestrode
        Till the strength of the beast was o'ertested;
    Then the man would carry him miles on the road
        Till Neddy was pretty well rested.

    The moon rising solemnly over the crest
        Of the hills to the east of my station
    Displayed her broad disk to the darkening west
        Like a visible new creation.

    And I thought of a joke (and I laughed till I cried)
        Of an idle young woman who tarried
    About a church-door for a look at the bride,
        Although 'twas herself that was married.

    To poets all Nature is pregnant with grand
        Ideas -- with thought and emotion.
    I pity the dunces who don't understand
        The speech of earth, heaven and ocean.
                                                       Stromboli Smith

OVATION, n.  n ancient Rome, a definite, formal pageant in honor of 
one who had been disserviceable to the enemies of the nation.  A 
lesser "triumph."  In modern English the word is improperly used to 
signify any loose and spontaneous expression of popular homage to the 
hero of the hour and place.

    "I had an ovation!" the actor man said,
        But I thought it uncommonly queer,
    That people and critics by him had been led
            By the ear.

    The Latin lexicon makes his absurd
        Assertion as plain as a peg;
    In "ovum" we find the true root of the word.
            It means egg.
                                                          Dudley Spink

OVEREAT, v.  To dine.

    Hail, Gastronome, Apostle of Excess,
    Well skilled to overeat without distress!
    Thy great invention, the unfatal feast,
    Shows Man’s superiority to Beast.
                                                             John Boop

OVERWORK, n.  A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries 
who want to go fishing.

OWE, v.  To have (and to hold) a debt.  The word formerly signified 
not indebtedness, but possession; it meant "own," and in the minds of 
debtors there is still a good deal of confusion between assets and 

OYSTER, n.  A slimy, gobby shellfish which civilization gives men the 
hardihood to eat without removing its entrails!  The shells are 
sometimes given to the poor.


PAIN, n.  An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical 
basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely 
mental, caused by the good fortune of another.

PAINTING, n.  The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and 
exposing them to the critic.
    Formerly, painting and sculpture were combined in the same work:  
the ancients painted their statues.  The only present alliance between 
the two arts is that the modern painter chisels his patrons.

PALACE, n.  A fine and costly residence, particularly that of a great 
official.  The residence of a high dignitary of the Christian Church 
is called a palace; that of the Founder of his religion was known as a 
field, or wayside.  There is progress.

PALM, n.  A species of tree having several varieties, of which the 
familiar "itching palm" (_Palma hominis_) is most widely distributed 
and sedulously cultivated.  This noble vegetable exudes a kind of 
invisible gum, which may be detected by applying to the bark a piece 
of gold or silver.  The metal will adhere with remarkable tenacity.  
The fruit of the itching palm is so bitter and unsatisfying that a 
considerable percentage of it is sometimes given away in what are known 
as "benefactions."

PALMISTRY, n.  The 947th method (according to Mimbleshaw’s 
classification) of obtaining money by false pretences.  It consists in 
"reading character" in the wrinkles made by closing the hand.  The 
pretence is not altogether false; character can really be read very 
accurately in this way, for the wrinkles in every hand submitted 
plainly spell the word "dupe."  The imposture consists in not reading 
it aloud.

PANDEMONIUM, n.  Literally, the Place of All the Demons.  Most of them 
have escaped into politics and finance, and the place is now used as a 
lecture hall by the Audible Reformer.  When disturbed by his voice the 
ancient echoes clamor appropriate responses most gratifying to his 
pride of distinction.

PANTALOONS, n.  A nether habiliment of the adult civilized male.  The 
garment is tubular and unprovided with hinges at the points of 
flexion.  Supposed to have been invented by a humorist.  Called 
"trousers" by the enlightened and "pants" by the unworthy.

PANTHEISM, n.  The doctrine that everything is God, in 
contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.

PANTOMIME, n.  A play in which the story is told without violence to 
the language.  The least disagreeable form of dramatic action.

PARDON, v.  To remit a penalty and restore to the life of crime.  To 
add to the lure of crime the temptation of ingratitude.

PASSPORT, n.  A document treacherously inflicted upon a citizen going 
abroad, exposing him as an alien and pointing him out for special 
reprobation and outrage.

PAST, n.  That part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we 
have a slight and regrettable acquaintance.  A moving line called the 
Present parts it from an imaginary period known as the Future.  These 
two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually 
effacing the other, are entirely unlike.  The one is dark with sorrow 
and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy.  The 
Past is the region of sobs, the Future is the realm of song.  In the 
one crouches Memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential 
prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, 
beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease.  Yet the Past is 
the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of to-morrow.  They 
are one -- the knowledge and the dream.

PASTIME, n.  A device for promoting dejection.  Gentle exercise for 
intellectual debility.

PATIENCE, n.  A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.

PATRIOT, n.  One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to 
those of the whole.  The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.

PATRIOTISM, n.  Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one 
ambitious to illuminate his name.
    In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the 
last resort of a scoundrel.  With all due respect to an enlightened 
but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

PEACE, n.  In international affairs, a period of cheating between two 
periods of fighting.

    O, what’s the loud uproar assailing
        Mine ears without cease?
    'Tis the voice of the hopeful, all-hailing
        The horrors of peace.

    Ah, Peace Universal; they woo it --
        Would marry it, too.
    If only they knew how to do it
        'Twere easy to do.

    They're working by night and by day
        On their problem, like moles.
    Have mercy, O Heaven, I pray,
        On their meddlesome souls!
                                                               Ro Amil

PEDESTRIAN, n.  The variable (an audible) part of the roadway for an 

PEDIGREE, n.  The known part of the route from an arboreal ancestor 
with a swim bladder to an urban descendant with a cigarette.

PENITENT, adj.  Undergoing or awaiting punishment.

PERFECTION, n.  An imaginary state of quality distinguished from the 
actual by an element known as excellence; an attribute of the critic.
    The editor of an English magazine having received a letter 
pointing out the erroneous nature of his views and style, and signed 
"Perfection," promptly wrote at the foot of the letter:  "I don't 
agree with you," and mailed it to Matthew Arnold.

PERIPATETIC, adj.  Walking about.  Relating to the philosophy of 
Aristotle, who, while expounding it, moved from place to place in 
order to avoid his pupil’s objections.  A needless precaution -- they 
knew no more of the matter than he.

PERORATION, n.  The explosion of an oratorical rocket.  It dazzles, 
but to an observer having the wrong kind of nose its most conspicuous 
peculiarity is the smell of the several kinds of powder used in 
preparing it.

PERSEVERANCE, n.  A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an 
inglorious success.

    "Persevere, persevere!" cry the homilists all,
    Themselves, day and night, persevering to bawl.
    "Remember the fable of tortoise and hare --
    The one at the goal while the other is -- where?"
    Why, back there in Dreamland, renewing his lease
    Of life, all his muscles preserving the peace,
    The goal and the rival forgotten alike,
    And the long fatigue of the needless hike.
    His spirit a-squat in the grass and the dew
    Of the dogless Land beyond the Stew,
    He sleeps, like a saint in a holy place,
    A winner of all that is good in a race.
                                                          Sukker Uffro

PESSIMISM, n.  A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the 
observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his 
scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.

PHILANTHROPIST, n.  A rich (and usually bald) old gentleman who has 
trained himself to grin while his conscience is picking his pocket.

PHILISTINE, n.  One whose mind is the creature of its environment, 
following the fashion in thought, feeling and sentiment.  He is 
sometimes learned, frequently prosperous, commonly clean and always 

PHILOSOPHY, n.  A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

PHOENIX, n.  The classical prototype of the modern "small hot bird."

PHONOGRAPH, n.  An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises.

PHOTOGRAPH, n.  A picture painted by the sun without instruction in 
art.  It is a little better than the work of an Apache, but not quite 
so good as that of a Cheyenne.

PHRENOLOGY, n.  The science of picking the pocket through the scalp.  
It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe 

PHYSICIAN, n.  One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs 
when well.

PHYSIOGNOMY, n.  The art of determining the character of another by 
the resemblances and differences between his face and our own, which 
is the standard of excellence.

    "There is no art," says Shakespeare, foolish man,
        "To read the mind’s construction in the face."
    The physiognomists his portrait scan,
        And say:  "How little wisdom here we trace!
    He knew his face disclosed his mind and heart,
    So, in his own defence, denied our art."
                                                         Lavatar Shunk

PIANO, n.  A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor.  It 
is operated by pressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the 

PICKANINNY, n.  The young of the _Procyanthropos_, or _Americanus 
dominans_.  It is small, black and charged with political fatalities.

PICTURE, n.  A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome
in three.

    "Behold great Daubert’s picture here on view --
    Taken from Life."  If that description’s true,
    Grant, heavenly Powers, that I be taken, too.
                                                             Jali Hane

PIE, n.  An advance agent of the reaper whose name is Indigestion.

    Cold pie was highly esteemed by the remains.
                                                       Rev. Dr. Mucker
                         (in a funeral sermon over a British nobleman)

    Cold pie is a detestable
    American comestible.
    That’s why I'm done -- or undone --
    So far from that dear London.
               (from the headstone of a British nobleman in Kalamazoo)

PIETY, n.  Reverence for the Supreme Being, based upon His supposed 
resemblance to man.

    The pig is taught by sermons and epistles
    To think the God of Swine has snout and bristles.

PIG, n.  An animal (_Porcus omnivorus_) closely allied to the human 
race by the splendor and vivacity of its appetite, which, however, is 
inferior in scope, for it sticks at pig.

PIGMY, n.  One of a tribe of very small men found by ancient travelers 
in many parts of the world, but by modern in Central Africa only.  The 
Pigmies are so called to distinguish them from the bulkier Caucasians 
-- who are Hogmies.

PILGRIM, n.  A traveler that is taken seriously.  A Pilgrim Father was 
one who, leaving Europe in 1620 because not permitted to sing psalms 
through his nose, followed it to Massachusetts, where he could 
personate God according to the dictates of his conscience.

PILLORY, n.  A mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction 
-- prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere 
virtues and blameless lives.

PIRACY, n.  Commerce without its folly-swaddles, just as God made it.

PITIFUL, adj.  The state of an enemy of opponent after an imaginary 
encounter with oneself.

PITY, n.  A failing sense of exemption, inspired by contrast.

PLAGIARISM, n.  A literary coincidence compounded of a discreditable 
priority and an honorable subsequence.

PLAGIARIZE, v.  To take the thought or style of another writer whom 
one has never, never read.

PLAGUE, n.  In ancient times a general punishment of the innocent for 
admonition of their ruler, as in the familiar instance of Pharaoh the 
Immune.  The plague as we of to-day have the happiness to know it is 
merely Nature’s fortuitous manifestation of her purposeless 

PLAN, v.t.  To bother about the best method of accomplishing an 
accidental result.

PLATITUDE, n.  The fundamental element and special glory of popular 
literature. A thought that snores in words that smoke.  The wisdom of 
a million fools in the diction of a dullard.  A fossil sentiment in 
artificial rock.  A moral without the fable.  All that is mortal of a 
departed truth.  A demi-tasse of milk-and-mortality.  The Pope’s-nose 
of a featherless peacock.  A jelly-fish withering on the shore of the 
sea of thought.  The cackle surviving the egg.  A desiccated epigram.

PLATONIC, adj.  Pertaining to the philosophy of Socrates.  Platonic 
Love is a fool’s name for the affection between a disability and a 

PLAUDITS, n.  Coins with which the populace pays those who tickle and 
devour it.

PLEASE, v.  To lay the foundation for a superstructure of imposition.

PLEASURE, n.  The least hateful form of dejection.

PLEBEIAN, n.  An ancient Roman who in the blood of his country stained 
nothing but his hands.  Distinguished from the Patrician, who was a 
saturated solution.

PLEBISCITE, n.  A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.

PLENIPOTENTIARY, adj.  Having full power.  A Minister Plenipotentiary 
is a diplomatist possessing absolute authority on condition that he 
never exert it.

PLEONASM, n.  An army of words escorting a corporal of thought.

PLOW, n.  An implement that cries aloud for hands accustomed to the 

PLUNDER, v.  To take the property of another without observing the 
decent and customary reticences of theft.  To effect a change of 
ownership with the candid concomitance of a brass band.  To wrest the 
wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanishing opportunity.

POCKET, n.  The cradle of motive and the grave of conscience.  In 
woman this organ is lacking; so she acts without motive, and her 
conscience, denied burial, remains ever alive, confessing the sins of 

POETRY, n.  A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the 

POKER, n.  A game said to be played with cards for some purpose to 
this lexicographer unknown.

POLICE, n.  An armed force for protection and participation.

POLITENESS, n.  The most acceptable hypocrisy.

POLITICS, n.  A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of 
principles.  The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

POLITICIAN, n.  An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the 
superstructure of organized society is reared.  When we wriggles he 
mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice.  
As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being 

POLYGAMY, n.  A house of atonement, or expiatory chapel, fitted with 
several stools of repentance, as distinguished from monogamy, which 
has but one.

POPULIST, n.  A fossil patriot of the early agricultural period, found 
in the old red soapstone underlying Kansas; characterized by an 
uncommon spread of ear, which some naturalists contend gave him the 
power of flight, though Professors Morse and Whitney, pursuing 
independent lines of thought, have ingeniously pointed out that had he 
possessed it he would have gone elsewhere.  In the picturesque speech 
of his period, some fragments of which have come down to us, he was 
known as "The Matter with Kansas."

PORTABLE, adj.  Exposed to a mutable ownership through vicissitudes of 

    His light estate, if neither he did make it
    Nor yet its former guardian forsake it,
    Is portable improperly, I take it.
                                                        Worgum Slupsky

PORTUGUESE,  A species of geese indigenous to Portugal.  They 
are mostly without feathers and imperfectly edible, even when stuffed 
with garlic.

POSITIVE, adj.  Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

POSITIVISM, n.  A philosophy that denies our knowledge of the Real and 
affirms our ignorance of the Apparent.  Its longest exponent is Comte, 
its broadest Mill and its thickest Spencer.

POSTERITY, n.  An appellate court which reverses the judgment of a 
popular author’s contemporaries, the appellant being his obscure 

POTABLE, n.  Suitable for drinking.  Water is said to be potable; 
indeed, some declare it our natural beverage, although even they find 
it palatable only when suffering from the recurrent disorder known as 
thirst, for which it is a medicine.  Upon nothing has so great and 
diligent ingenuity been brought to bear in all ages and in all 
countries, except the most uncivilized, as upon the invention of 
substitutes for water.  To hold that this general aversion to that 
liquid has no basis in the preservative instinct of the race is to be 
unscientific -- and without science we are as the snakes and toads.

POVERTY, n.  A file provided for the teeth of the rats of reform.  The 
number of plans for its abolition equals that of the reformers who 
suffer from it, plus that of the philosophers who know nothing about 
it.  Its victims are distinguished by possession of all the virtues 
and by their faith in leaders seeking to conduct them into a 
prosperity where they believe these to be unknown.

PRAY, v.  To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf 
of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

PRE-ADAMITE, n.  One of an experimental and apparently unsatisfactory 
race of antedated Creation and lived under conditions not easily 
conceived.  Melsius believed them to have inhabited "the Void" and to 
have been something intermediate between fishes and birds.  Little its 
known of them beyond the fact that they supplied Cain with a wife and 
theologians with a controversy.

PRECEDENT, n.  In Law, a previous decision, rule or practice which, in 
the absence of a definite statute, has whatever force and authority a 
Judge may choose to give it, thereby greatly simplifying his task of 
doing as he pleases.  As there are precedents for everything, he has 
only to ignore those that make against his interest and accentuate 
those in the line of his desire.  Invention of the precedent elevates 
the trial-at-law from the low estate of a fortuitous ordeal to the 
noble attitude of a dirigible arbitrament.

PRECIPITATE, adj.  Anteprandial.

    Precipitate in all, this sinner
    Took action first, and then his dinner.

PRECEDENT, n.  In Law, a previous decision, rule or practice which, in 
the absence of a definite statute, has whatever force and authority a 
Judge may choose to give it, thereby greatly simplifying his task of 
doing as he pleases.  As there are precedents for everything, he has 
only to ignore those that make against his interest and accentuate 
those in the line of his desire.  Invention of the precedent elevates 
the trial-at-law from the low estate of a fortuitous ordeal to the 
noble attitude of a dirigible arbitrament.

PRECIPITATE, adj.  Anteprandial.

    Precipitate in all, this sinner
    Took action first, and then his dinner.

PREDESTINATION, n.  The doctrine that all things occur according to 
programme.  This doctrine should not be confused with that of 
foreordination, which means that all things are programmed, but does 
not affirm their occurrence, that being only an implication from other 
doctrines by which this is entailed.  The difference is great enough 
to have deluged Christendom with ink, to say nothing of the gore.  
With the distinction of the two doctrines kept well in mind, and a 
reverent belief in both, one may hope to escape perdition if spared.

PREDICAMENT, n.  The wage of consistency.

PREDILECTION, n.  The preparatory stage of disillusion.

PRE-EXISTENCE, n.  An unnoted factor in creation.

PREFERENCE, n.  A sentiment, or frame of mind, induced by the 
erroneous belief that one thing is better than another.
    An ancient philosopher, expounding his conviction that life is no 
better than death, was asked by a disciple why, then, he did not die.  
"Because," he replied, "death is no better than life."
    It is longer.

PREHISTORIC, adj.  Belonging to an early period and a museum.  
Antedating the art and practice of perpetuating falsehood.

    He lived in a period prehistoric,
    When all was absurd and phantasmagoric.
    Born later, when Clio, celestial recorded,
    Set down great events in succession and order,
    He surely had seen nothing droll or fortuitous
    In anything here but the lies that she threw at us.
                                                         Orpheus Bowen

PREJUDICE, n.  A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.

PRELATE, n.  A church officer having a superior degree of holiness and 
a fat preferment.  One of Heaven’s aristocracy.  A gentleman of God.

PREROGATIVE, n.  A sovereign’s right to do wrong.

PRESBYTERIAN, n.  One who holds the conviction that the government 
authorities of the Church should be called presbyters.

PRESCRIPTION, n.  A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the 
situation with least harm to the patient.

PRESENT, n.  That part of eternity dividing the domain of 
disappointment from the realm of hope.

PRESENTABLE, adj.  Hideously appareled after the manner of the time 
and place.
    In Boorioboola-Gha a man is presentable on occasions of ceremony 
if he have his abdomen painted a bright blue and wear a cow’s tail; in 
New York he may, if it please him, omit the paint, but after sunset he 
must wear two tails made of the wool of a sheep and dyed black.

PRESIDE, v.  To guide the action of a deliberative body to a desirable 
result.  In Journalese, to perform upon a musical instrument; as, "He 
presided at the piccolo."

    The Headliner, holding the copy in hand,
        Read with a solemn face:
    "The music was very uncommonly grand --
            The best that was every provided,
            For our townsman Brown presided
        At the organ with skill and grace."
    The Headliner discontinued to read,
        And, spread the paper down
    On the desk, he dashed in at the top of the screed:
        "Great playing by President Brown."
                                                         Orpheus Bowen

PRESIDENCY, n.  The greased pig in the field game of American 

PRESIDENT, n.  The leading figure in a small group of men of whom -- 
and of whom only -- it is positively known that immense numbers of 
their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

    If that’s an honor surely 'tis a greater
    To have been a simple and undamned spectator.
    Behold in me a man of mark and note
    Whom no elector e'er denied a vote! --
    An undiscredited, unhooted gent
    Who might, for all we know, be President
    By acclimation.  Cheer, ye varlets, cheer --
    I'm passing with a wide and open ear!
                                                        Jonathan Fomry

PREVARICATOR, n.  A liar in the caterpillar estate.

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

PRIMATE, n.  The head of a church, especially a State church supported 
by involuntary contributions.  The Primate of England is the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, an amiable old gentleman, who occupies 
Lambeth Palace when living and Westminster Abbey when dead.  He is 
commonly dead.

PRISON, n.  A place of punishments and rewards.  The poet assures us 
that --

    "Stone walls do not a prison make,"

but a combination of the stone wall, the political parasite and the 
moral instructor is no garden of sweets.

PRIVATE, n.  A military gentleman with a field-marshal’s baton in his 
knapsack and an impediment in his hope.

PROBOSCIS, n.  The rudimentary organ of an elephant which serves him 
in place of the knife-and-fork that Evolution has as yet denied him.  
For purposes of humor it is popularly called a trunk.
    Asked how he knew that an elephant was going on a journey, the 
illustrious Jo. Miller cast a reproachful look upon his tormentor, and 
answered, absently:  "When it is ajar," and threw himself from a high 
promontory into the sea.  Thus perished in his pride the most famous 
humorist of antiquity, leaving to mankind a heritage of woe!  No 
successor worthy of the title has appeared, though Mr. Edward bok, of 
_The Ladies' Home Journal_, is much respected for the purity and 
sweetness of his personal character.

PROJECTILE, n.  The final arbiter in international disputes.  Formerly 
these disputes were settled by physical contact of the disputants, 
with such simple arguments as the rudimentary logic of the times could 
supply -- the sword, the spear, and so forth.  With the growth of 
prudence in military affairs the projectile came more and more into 
favor, and is now held in high esteem by the most courageous.  Its 
capital defect is that it requires personal attendance at the point of 

PROOF, n.  Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of 
unlikelihood.  The testimony of two credible witnesses as opposed to 
that of only one.

PROOF-READER, n.  A malefactor who atones for making your writing 
nonsense by permitting the compositor to make it unintelligible.

PROPERTY, n.  Any material thing, having no particular value, that may 
be held by A against the cupidity of B.  Whatever gratifies the 
passion for possession in one and disappoints it in all others.  The 
object of man’s brief rapacity and long indifference.

PROPHECY, n.  The art and practice of selling one’s credibility for 
future delivery.

PROSPECT, n.  An outlook, usually forbidding.  An expectation, usually 

    Blow, blow, ye spicy breezes --
        O'er Ceylon blow your breath,
    Where every prospect pleases,
        Save only that of death.
                                                         Bishop Sheber

PROVIDENTIAL, adj.  Unexpectedly and conspicuously beneficial to the 
person so describing it.

PRUDE, n.  A bawd hiding behind the back of her demeanor.

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

PUSH, n.  One of the two things mainly conducive to success, 
especially in politics.  The other is Pull.

PYRRHONISM, n.  An ancient philosophy, named for its inventor.  It 
consisted of an absolute disbelief in everything but Pyrrhonism.  Its 
modern professors have added that.


QUEEN, n.  A woman by whom the realm is ruled when there is a king, 
and through whom it is ruled when there is not.

QUILL, n.  An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly 
wielded by an ass.  This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its 
modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting 

QUIVER, n.  A portable sheath in which the ancient statesman and the 
aboriginal lawyer carried their lighter arguments.

    He extracted from his quiver,
        Did the controversial Roman,
    An argument well fitted
    To the question as submitted,
    Then addressed it to the liver,
        Of the unpersuaded foeman.
                                                        Oglum P. Boomp

QUIXOTIC, adj.  Absurdly chivalric, like Don Quixote.  An insight into 
the beauty and excellence of this incomparable adjective is unhappily 
denied to him who has the misfortune to know that the gentleman’s name 
is pronounced Ke-ho-tay.

    When ignorance from out of our lives can banish
    Philology, 'tis folly to know Spanish.
                                                            Juan Smith

QUORUM, n.  A sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to 
have their own way and their own way of having it.  In the United 
States Senate a quorum consists of the chairman of the Committee on 
Finance and a messenger from the White House; in the House of 
Representatives, of the Speaker and the devil.

QUOTATION, n.  The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.  
The words erroneously repeated.

    Intent on making his quotation truer,
    He sought the page infallible of Brewer,
    Then made a solemn vow that we would be
    Condemned eternally.  Ah, me, ah, me!
                                                          Stumpo Gaker

QUOTIENT, n.  A number showing how many times a sum of money belonging 
to one person is contained in the pocket of another -- usually about 
as many times as it can be got there.


RABBLE, n.  In a republic, those who exercise a supreme authority 
tempered by fraudulent elections.  The rabble is like the sacred 
Simurgh, of Arabian fable -- omnipotent on condition that it do 
nothing.  (The word is Aristocratese, and has no exact equivalent in 
our tongue, but means, as nearly as may be, "soaring swine.")

RACK, n.  An argumentative implement formerly much used in persuading 
devotees of a false faith to embrace the living truth.  As a call to 
the unconverted the rack never had any particular efficacy, and is now 
held in light popular esteem.

RANK, n.  Relative elevation in the scale of human worth.

    He held at court a rank so high
    That other noblemen asked why.
    "Because," 'twas answered, "others lack
    His skill to scratch the royal back."
                                                          Aramis Jukes

RANSOM, n.  The purchase of that which neither belongs to the seller, 
nor can belong to the buyer.  The most unprofitable of investments.

RAPACITY, n.  Providence without industry.  The thrift of power.

RAREBIT, n.  A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point 
out that it is not a rabbit.  To whom it may be solemnly explained 
that the comestible known as toad-in-a-hole is really not a toad, and 
that _riz-de-veau a la financiere_ is not the smile of a calf prepared 
after the recipe of a she banker.

RASCAL, n.  A fool considered under another aspect.

RASCALITY, n.  Stupidity militant.  The activity of a clouded 

RASH, adj.  Insensible to the value of our advice.

    "Now lay your bet with mine, nor let
        These gamblers take your cash."
    "Nay, this child makes no bet."  "Great snakes!
        How can you be so rash?"
                                                        Bootle P. Gish

RATIONAL, adj.  Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, 
experience and reflection.

RATTLESNAKE, n.  Our prostrate brother, _Homo ventrambulans_.

RAZOR, n.  An instrument used by the Caucasian to enhance his beauty, 
by the Mongolian to make a guy of himself, and by the Afro-American to 
affirm his worth.

REACH, n.  The radius of action of the human hand.  The area within 
which it is possible (and customary) to gratify directly the 
propensity to provide.

    This is a truth, as old as the hills,
        That life and experience teach:
    The poor man suffers that keenest of ills,
        An impediment of his reach.

READING, n.  The general body of what one reads.  In our country it 
consists, as a rule, of Indiana novels, short stories in "dialect" and 
humor in slang.

    We know by one’s reading
    His learning and breeding;
    By what draws his laughter
    We know his Hereafter.
    Read nothing, laugh never --
    The Sphinx was less clever!
                                                          Jupiter Muke

RADICALISM, n.  The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the 
affairs of to-day.

RADIUM, n.  A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ 
that a scientist is a fool with.

RAILROAD, n.  The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get 
away from where we are to wher we are no better off.  For this purpose 
the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits 
him to make the transit with great expedition.

RAMSHACKLE, adj.  Pertaining to a certain order of architecture, 
otherwise known as the Normal American.  Most of the public buildings 
of the United States are of the Ramshackle order, though some of our 
earlier architects preferred the Ironic.  Recent additions to the 
White House in Washington are Theo-Doric, the ecclesiastic order of 
the Dorians.  They are exceedingly fine and cost one hundred dollars a 

REALISM, n.  The art of depicting nature as it is seem by toads.  The 
charm suffusing a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a 

REALITY, n.  The dream of a mad philosopher.  That which would remain 
in the cupel if one should assay a phantom.  The nucleus of a vacuum.

REALLY, adv.  Apparently.

REAR, n.  In American military matters, that exposed part of the army 
that is nearest to Congress.

REASON, v.i.  To weight probabilities in the scales of desire.

REASON, n.  Propensitate of prejudice.

REASONABLE, adj.  Accessible to the infection of our own opinions.  
Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion.

REBEL, n.  A proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish 

RECOLLECT, v.  To recall with additions something not previously 

RECONCILIATION, n.  A suspension of hostilities.  An armed truce for 
the purpose of digging up the dead.

RECONSIDER, v.  To seek a justification for a decision already made.

RECOUNT, n.  In American politics, another throw of the dice, accorded 
to the player against whom they are loaded.

RECREATION, n.  A particular kind of dejection to relieve a general 

RECRUIT, n.  A person distinguishable from a civilian by his uniform 
and from a soldier by his gait.

    Fresh from the farm or factory or street,
    His marching, in pursuit or in retreat,
        Were an impressive martial spectacle
    Except for two impediments -- his feet.
                                                      Thompson Johnson

RECTOR, n.  In the Church of England, the Third Person of the 
parochial Trinity, the Cruate and the Vicar being the other two.

REDEMPTION, n.  Deliverance of sinners from the penalty of their sin, 
through their murder of the deity against whom they sinned.  The 
doctrine of Redemption is the fundamental mystery of our holy 
religion, and whoso believeth in it shall not perish, but have 
everlasting life in which to try to understand it.

    We must awake Man’s spirit from his sin,
        And take some special measure for redeeming it;
    Though hard indeed the task to get it in
        Among the angels any way but teaming it,
        Or purify it otherwise than steaming it.
    I'm awkward at Redemption -- a beginner:
    My method is to crucify the sinner.
                                                           Golgo Brone

REDRESS, n.  Reparation without satisfaction.
    Among the Anglo-Saxon a subject conceiving himself wronged by the 
king was permitted, on proving his injury, to beat a brazen image of 
the royal offender with a switch that was afterward applied to his own 
naked back.  The latter rite was performed by the public hangman, and 
it assured moderation in the plaintiff’s choice of a switch.

RED-SKIN, n.  A North American Indian, whose skin is not red -- at 
least not on the outside.

REDUNDANT, adj.  Superfluous; needless; _de trop_.

    The Sultan said:  "There’s evidence abundant
    To prove this unbelieving dog redundant."
    To whom the Grand Vizier, with mien impressive,
    Replied:  "His head, at least, appears excessive."
                                                       Habeeb Suleiman

    Mr. Debs is a redundant citizen.
                                                    Theodore Roosevelt

REFERENDUM, n.  A law for submission of proposed legislation to a 
popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion.

REFLECTION, n.  An action of the mind whereby we obtain a clearer view 
of our relation to the things of yesterday and are able to avoid the 
perils that we shall not again encounter.

REFORM, v.  A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to 

REFUGE, n.  Anything assuring protection to one in peril.  Moses and 
Joshua provided six cities of refuge -- Bezer, Golan, Ramoth, Kadesh, 
Schekem and Hebron -- to which one who had taken life inadvertently 
could flee when hunted by relatives of the deceased.  This admirable 
expedient supplied him with wholesome exercise and enabled them to 
enjoy the pleasures of the chase; whereby the soul of the dead man was 
appropriately honored by observations akin to the funeral games of 
early Greece.

REFUSAL, n.  Denial of something desired; as an elderly maiden’s hand 
in marriage, to a rich and handsome suitor; a valuable franchise to a 
rich corporation, by an alderman; absolution to an impenitent king, by 
a priest, and so forth.  Refusals are graded in a descending scale of 
finality thus:  the refusal absolute, the refusal condition, the 
refusal tentative and the refusal feminine.  The last is called by 
some casuists the refusal assentive.

REGALIA, n.  Distinguishing insignia, jewels and costume of such 
ancient and honorable orders as Knights of Adam; Visionaries of 
Detectable Bosh; the Ancient Order of Modern Troglodytes; the League 
of Holy Humbug; the Golden Phalanx of Phalangers; the Genteel Society 
of Expurgated Hoodlums; the Mystic Alliances of Georgeous Regalians; 
Knights and Ladies of the Yellow Dog; the Oriental Order of Sons of 
the West; the Blatherhood of Insufferable Stuff; Warriors of the Long 
Bow; Guardians of the Great Horn Spoon; the Band of Brutes; the 
Impenitent Order of Wife-Beaters; the Sublime Legion of Flamboyant 
Conspicuants; Worshipers at the Electroplated Shrine; Shining 
Inaccessibles; Fee-Faw-Fummers of the inimitable Grip; Jannissaries of 
the Broad-Blown Peacock; Plumed Increscencies of the Magic Temple; the 
Grand Cabal of Able-Bodied Sedentarians; Associated Deities of the 
Butter Trade; the Garden of Galoots; the Affectionate Fraternity of 
Men Similarly Warted; the Flashing Astonishers; Ladies of Horror; 
Cooperative Association for Breaking into the Spotlight; Dukes of Eden; 
Disciples Militant of the Hidden Faith; Knights-Champions of the 
Domestic Dog; the Holy Gregarians; the Resolute Optimists; the Ancient 
Sodality of Inhospitable Hogs; Associated Sovereigns of Mendacity; 
Dukes-Guardian of the Mystic Cess-Pool; the Society for Prevention of 
Prevalence; Kings of Drink; Polite Federation of Gents-Consequential; 
the Mysterious Order of the Undecipherable Scroll; Uniformed Rank of 
Lousy Cats; Monarchs of Worth and Hunger; Sons of the South Star; 
Prelates of the Tub-and-Sword.

RELIGION, n.  A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the 
nature of the Unknowable.
    "What is your religion my son?" inquired the Archbishop of Rheims.
    "Pardon, monseigneur," replied Rochebriant; "I am ashamed of it."
    "Then why do you not become an atheist?"
    "Impossible!  I should be ashamed of atheism."
    "In that case, monsieur, you should join the Protestants."

RELIQUARY, n.  A receptacle for such sacred objects as pieces of the 
true cross, short-ribs of the saints, the ears of Balaam’s ass, the 
lung of the cock that called Peter to repentance and so forth.  
Reliquaries are commonly of metal, and provided with a lock to prevent 
the contents from coming out and performing miracles at unseasonable 
times.  A feather from the wing of the Angel of the Annunciation once 
escaped during a sermon in Saint Peter’s and so tickled the noses of 
the congregation that they woke and sneezed with great vehemence three 
times each.  It is related in the "Gesta Sanctorum" that a sacristan 
in the Canterbury cathedral surprised the head of Saint Dennis in the 
library.  Reprimanded by its stern custodian, it explained that it was 
seeking a body of doctrine.  This unseemly levity so raged the 
diocesan that the offender was publicly anathematized, thrown into the 
Stour and replaced by another head of Saint Dennis, brought from Rome.

RENOWN, n.  A degree of distinction between notoriety and fame -- a 
little more supportable than the one and a little more intolerable 
than the other.  Sometimes it is conferred by an unfriendly and 
inconsiderate hand.

    I touched the harp in every key,
        But found no heeding ear;
    And then Ithuriel touched me
        With a revealing spear.

    Not all my genius, great as 'tis,
        Could urge me out of night.
    I felt the faint appulse of his,
        And leapt into the light!
                                                        W.J. Candleton

REPARATION, n.  Satisfaction that is made for a wrong and deducted 
from the satisfaction felt in committing it.

REPARTEE, n.  Prudent insult in retort.  Practiced by gentlemen with a 
constitutional aversion to violence, but a strong disposition to 
offend.  In a war of words, the tactics of the North American Indian.

REPENTANCE, n.  The faithful attendant and follower of Punishment.  It 
is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not 
inconsistent with continuity of sin.

    Desirous to avoid the pains of Hell,
    You will repent and join the Church, Parnell?
    How needless! -- Nick will keep you off the coals
    And add you to the woes of other souls.
                                                         Jomater Abemy

REPLICA, n.  A reproduction of a work of art, by the artist that made 
the original.  It is so called to distinguish it from a "copy," which 
is made by another artist.  When the two are mae with equal skill the 
replica is the more valuable, for it is supposed to be more beautiful 
than it looks.

REPORTER, n.  A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it 
with a tempest of words.

    "More dear than all my bosom knows, O thou
    Whose 'lips are sealed' and will not disavow!"
    So sang the blithe reporter-man as grew
    Beneath his hand the leg-long "interview."
                                                          Barson Maith

REPOSE, v.i.  To cease from troubling.

REPRESENTATIVE, n.  In national politics, a member of the Lower House 
in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.

REPROBATION, n.  In theology, the state of a luckless mortal 
prenatally damned.  The doctrine of reprobation was taught by Calvin, 
whose joy in it was somewhat marred by the sad sincerity of his 
conviction that although some are foredoomed to perdition, others are 
predestined to salvation.

REPUBLIC, n.  A nation in which, the thing governing and the thing 
governed being the same, there is only a permitted authority to 
enforce an optional obedience.  In a republic, the foundation of 
public order is the ever lessening habit of submission inherited from 
ancestors who, being truly governed, submitted because they had to.  
There are as many kinds of republics as there are graduations between 
the despotism whence they came and the anarchy whither they lead.

REQUIEM, n.  A mass for the dead which the minor poets assure us the 
winds sing o'er the graves of their favorites.  Sometimes, by way of 
providing a varied entertainment, they sing a dirge.

RESIDENT, adj.  Unable to leave.

RESIGN, v.t.  To renounce an honor for an advantage.  To renounce an 
advantage for a greater advantage.

    'Twas rumored Leonard Wood had signed
        A true renunciation
    Of title, rank and every kind
        Of military station --
        Each honorable station.

    By his example fired -- inclined
        To noble emulation,
    The country humbly was resigned
        To Leonard’s resignation --
        His Christian resignation.
                                                       Politian Greame

RESOLUTE, adj.  Obstinate in a course that we approve.

RESPECTABILITY, n.  The offspring of a _liaison_ between a bald head 
and a bank account.

RESPIRATOR, n.  An apparatus fitted over the nose and mouth of an 
inhabitant of London, whereby to filter the visible universe in its 
passage to the lungs.

RESPITE, n.  A suspension of hostilities against a sentenced assassin, 
to enable the Executive to determine whether the murder may not have 
been done by the prosecuting attorney.  Any break in the continuity of 
a disagreeable expectation.

    Altgeld upon his incandescend bed
    Lay, an attendant demon at his head.

    "O cruel cook, pray grant me some relief --
    Some respite from the roast, however brief."

    "Remember how on earth I pardoned all
    Your friends in Illinois when held in thrall."

    "Unhappy soul! for that alone you squirm
    O'er fire unquenched, a never-dying worm.

    "Yet, for I pity your uneasy state,
    Your doom I'll mollify and pains abate.

    "Naught, for a season, shall your comfort mar,
    Not even the memory of who you are."

    Throughout eternal space dread silence fell;
    Heaven trembled as Compassion entered Hell.

    "As long, sweet demon, let my respite be
    As, governing down here, I'd respite thee."

    "As long, poor soul, as any of the pack
    You thrust from jail consumed in getting back."

    A genial chill affected Altgeld’s hide
    While they were turning him on t'other side.
                                                       Joel Spate Woop

RESPLENDENT, adj.  Like a simple American citizen beduking himself in 
his lodge, or affirming his consequence in the Scheme of Things as an 
elemental unit of a parade.

        The Knights of Dominion were so resplendent in their velvet- 
    and-gold that their masters would hardly have known them.
                                           "Chronicles of the Classes"

RESPOND, v.i.  To make answer, or disclose otherwise a consciousness 
of having inspired an interest in what Herbert Spencer calls "external 
coexistences," as Satan "squat like a toad" at the ear of Eve, 
responded to the touch of the angel’s spear.  To respond in damages is 
to contribute to the maintenance of the plaintiff’s attorney and, 
incidentally, to the gratification of the plaintiff.

RESPONSIBILITY, n.  A detachable burden easily shifted to the 
shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbor.  In the days 
of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.

    Alas, things ain't what we should see
    If Eve had let that apple be;
    And many a feller which had ought
    To set with monarchses of thought,
    Or play some rosy little game
    With battle-chaps on fields of fame,
    Is downed by his unlucky star
    And hollers:  "Peanuts! -- here you are!"
                                                   "The Sturdy Beggar"

RESTITUTIONS, n.  The founding or endowing of universities and public 
libraries by gift or bequest.

RESTITUTOR, n.  Benefactor; philanthropist.

RETALIATION, n.  The natural rock upon which is reared the Temple of 

RETRIBUTION, n.  A rain of fire-and-brimstone that falls alike upon 
the just and such of the unjust as have not procured shelter by 
evicting them.
    In the lines following, addressed to an Emperor in exile by Father 
Gassalasca Jape, the reverend poet appears to hint his sense of the 
improduence of turning about to face Retribution when it is talking 

    What, what! Dom Pedro, you desire to go
        Back to Brazil to end your days in quiet?
    Why, what assurance have you 'twould be so?
        'Tis not so long since you were in a riot,
        And your dear subjects showed a will to fly at
    Your throat and shake you like a rat.  You know
    That empires are ungrateful; are you certain
    Republics are less handy to get hurt in?

REVEILLE, n.  A signal to sleeping soldiers to dream of battlefields 
no more, but get up and have their blue noses counted.  In the 
American army it is ingeniously called "rev-e-lee," and to that 
pronunciation our countrymen have pledged their lives, their 
misfortunes and their sacred dishonor.

REVELATION, n.  A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed 
all that he knew.  The revealing is done by the commentators, who know 

REVERENCE, n.  The spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a 

REVIEW, v.t.

    To set your wisdom (holding not a doubt of it,
        Although in truth there’s neither bone nor skin to it)
    At work upon a book, and so read out of it
        The qualities that you have first read into it.

REVOLUTION, n.  In politics, an abrupt change in the form of 
misgovernment.  Specifically, in American history, the substitution of 
the rule of an Administration for that of a Ministry, whereby the 
welfare and happiness of the people were advanced a full half-inch.  
Revolutions are usually accompanied by a considerable effusion of 
blood, but are accounted worth it -- this appraisement being made by 
beneficiaries whose blood had not the mischance to be shed.  The 
French revolution is of incalculable value to the Socialist of to-day; 
when he pulls the string actuating its bones its gestures are 
inexpressibly terrifying to gory tyrants suspected of fomenting law 
and order.

RHADOMANCER, n.  One who uses a divining-rod in prospecting for 
precious metals in the pocket of a fool.

RIBALDRY, n.  Censorious language by another concerning oneself.

RIBROASTER, n.  Censorious language by oneself concerning another.  
The word is of classical refinement, and is even said to have been 
used in a fable by Georgius Coadjutor, one of the most fastidious 
writers of the fifteenth century -- commonly, indeed, regarded as the 
founder of the Fastidiotic School.

RICE-WATER, n.  A mystic beverage secretly used by our most popular 
novelists and poets to regulate the imagination and narcotize the 
conscience.  It is said to be rich in both obtundite and lethargine, 
and is brewed in a midnight fog by a fat which of the Dismal Swamp.

RICH, adj.  Holding in trust and subject to an accounting the property 
of the indolent, the incompetent, the unthrifty, the envious and the 
luckless.  That is the view that prevails in the underworld, where the 
Brotherhood of Man finds its most logical development and candid 
advocacy.  To denizens of the midworld the word means good and wise.


        A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in 
    whom I am well pleased."
                                                   John D. Rockefeller

        The reward of toil and virtue.
                                                           J.P. Morgan

        The sayings of many in the hands of one.
                                                           Eugene Debs

    To these excellent definitions the inspired lexicographer feels 
that he can add nothing of value.

RIDICULE, n.  Words designed to show that the person of whom they are 
uttered is devoid of the dignity of character distinguishing him who 
utters them.  It may be graphic, mimetic or merely rident.  
Shaftesbury is quoted as having pronounced it the test of truth -- a 
ridiculous assertion, for many a solemn fallacy has undergone 
centuries of ridicule with no abatement of its popular acceptance.  
What, for example, has been more valorously derided than the doctrine 
of Infant Respectability?

RIGHT, n.  Legitimate authority to be, to do or to have; as the right 
to be a king, the right to do one’s neighbor, the right to have 
measles, and the like.  The first of these rights was once universally 
believed to be derived directly from the will of God; and this is 
still sometimes affirmed _in partibus infidelium_ outside the 
enlightened realms of Democracy; as the well known lines of Sir 
Abednego Bink, following:

        By what right, then, do royal rulers rule?
            Whose is the sanction of their state and pow'r?
        He surely were as stubborn as a mule
            Who, God unwilling, could maintain an hour
    His uninvited session on the throne, or air
    His pride securely in the Presidential chair.

        Whatever is is so by Right Divine;
            Whate'er occurs, God wills it so.  Good land!
        It were a wondrous thing if His design
            A fool could baffle or a rogue withstand!
    If so, then God, I say (intending no offence)
    Is guilty of contributory negligence.

RIGHTEOUSNESS, n.  A sturdy virtue that was once found among the 
Pantidoodles inhabiting the lower part of the peninsula of Oque.  Some 
feeble attempts were made by returned missionaries to introduce it 
into several European countries, but it appears to have been 
imperfectly expounded.  An example of this faulty exposition is found 
in the only extant sermon of the pious Bishop Rowley, a characteristic 
passage from which is here given:

        "Now righteousness consisteth not merely in a holy state of 
    mind, nor yet in performance of religious rites and obedience to 
    the letter of the law.  It is not enough that one be pious and 
    just:  one must see to it that others also are in the same state; 
    and to this end compulsion is a proper means.  Forasmuch as my 
    injustice may work ill to another, so by his injustice may evil be 
    wrought upon still another, the which it is as manifestly my duty 
    to estop as to forestall mine own tort.  Wherefore if I would be 
    righteous I am bound to restrain my neighbor, by force if needful, 
    in all those injurious enterprises from which, through a better 
    disposition and by the help of Heaven, I do myself restrain."

RIME, n.  Agreeing sounds in the terminals of verse, mostly bad.  The 
verses themselves, as distinguished from prose, mostly dull.  Usually 
(and wickedly) spelled "rhyme."

RIMER, n.  A poet regarded with indifference or disesteem.

    The rimer quenches his unheeded fires,
    The sound surceases and the sense expires.
    Then the domestic dog, to east and west,
    Expounds the passions burning in his breast.
    The rising moon o'er that enchanted land
    Pauses to hear and yearns to understand.
                                                         Mowbray Myles

RIOT, n.  A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent 

R.I.P.  A careless abbreviation of _requiescat in pace_, attesting to 
indolent goodwill to the dead.  According to the learned Dr. Drigge, 
however, the letters originally meant nothing more than _reductus in 

RITE, n.  A religious or semi-religious ceremony fixed by law, precept 
or custom, with the essential oil of sincerity carefully squeezed out 
of it.

RITUALISM, n.  A Dutch Garden of God where He may walk in rectilinear 
freedom, keeping off the grass.

ROAD, n.  A strip of land along which one may pass from where it is 
too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.

    All roads, howsoe'er they diverge, lead to Rome,
    Whence, thank the good Lord, at least one leads back home.
                                                        Borey the Bald

ROBBER, n.  A candid man of affairs.
    It is related of Voltaire that one night he and some traveling 
companion lodged at a wayside inn.  The surroundings were suggestive, 
and after supper they agreed to tell robber stories in turn.  "Once 
there was a Farmer-General of the Revenues."  Saying nothing more, he 
was encouraged to continue.  "That," he said, "is the story."

ROMANCE, n.  Fiction that owes no allegiance to the God of Things as 
They Are.  In the novel the writer’s thought is tethered to 
probability, as a domestic horse to the hitching-post, but in romance 
it ranges at will over the entire region of the imagination -- free, 
lawless, immune to bit and rein.  Your novelist is a poor creature, as 
Carlyle might say -- a mere reporter.  He may invent his characters 
and plot, but he must not imagine anything taking place that might not 
occur, albeit his entire narrative is candidly a lie.  Why he imposes 
this hard condition on himself, and "drags at each remove a 
lengthening chain" of his own forging he can explain in ten thick 
volumes without illuminating by so much as a candle’s ray the black 
profound of his own ignorance of the matter.  There are great novels, 
for great writers have "laid waste their powers" to write them, but it 
remains true that far and away the most fascinating fiction that we 
have is "The Thousand and One Nights."

ROPE, n.  An obsolescent appliance for reminding assassins that they 
too are mortal.  It is put about the neck and remains in place one’s 
whole life long.  It has been largely superseded by a more complex 
electrical device worn upon another part of the person; and this is 
rapidly giving place to an apparatus known as the preachment.

ROSTRUM, n.  In Latin, the beak of a bird or the prow of a ship.  In 
America, a place from which a candidate for office energetically 
expounds the wisdom, virtue and power of the rabble.

ROUNDHEAD, n.  A member of the Parliamentarian party in the English 
civil war -- so called from his habit of wearing his hair short, 
whereas his enemy, the Cavalier, wore his long.  There were other 
points of difference between them, but the fashion in hair was the 
fundamental cause of quarrel.  The Cavaliers were royalists because 
the king, an indolent fellow, found it more convenient to let his hair 
grow than to wash his neck.  This the Roundheads, who were mostly 
barbers and soap-boilers, deemed an injury to trade, and the royal 
neck was therefore the object of their particular indignation.  
Descendants of the belligerents now wear their hair all alike, but the 
fires of animosity enkindled in that ancient strife smoulder to this 
day beneath the snows of British civility.

RUBBISH, n.  Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, 
literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions 
lying due south from Boreaplas.

RUIN, v.  To destroy.  Specifically, to destroy a maid’s belief in the 
virtue of maids.

RUM, n.  Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total 

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

    Sharp, irresistible by mail or shield,
        By guard unparried as by flight unstayed,
    O serviceable Rumor, let me wield
        Against my enemy no other blade.
    His be the terror of a foe unseen,
        His the inutile hand upon the hilt,
    And mine the deadly tongue, long, slender, keen,
        Hinting a rumor of some ancient guilt.
    So shall I slay the wretch without a blow,
    Spare me to celebrate his overthrow,
    And nurse my valor for another foe.
                                                           Joel Buxter

RUSSIAN, n.  A person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul.  A 
Tartar Emetic.


SABBATH, n.  A weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God 
made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.  Among the 
Jews observance of the day was enforced by a Commandment of which this 
is the Christian version:  "Remember the seventh day to make thy 
neighbor keep it wholly."  To the Creator it seemed fit and expedient 
that the Sabbath should be the last day of the week, but the Early 
Fathers of the Church held other views.  So great is the sanctity of 
the day that even where the Lord holds a doubtful and precarious 
jurisdiction over those who go down to (and down into) the sea it is 
reverently recognized, as is manifest in the following deep-water 
version of the Fourth Commandment:

    Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able,
    And on the seventh holystone the deck and scrape the cable.

    Decks are no longer holystoned, but the cable still supplies the 
captain with opportunity to attest a pious respect for the divine 

SACERDOTALIST, n.  One who holds the belief that a clergyman is a 
priest.  Denial of this momentous doctrine is the hardest challenge 
that is now flung into the teeth of the Episcopalian church by the 

SACRAMENT, n.  A solemn religious ceremony to which several degrees of 
authority and significance are attached.  Rome has seven sacraments, 
but the Protestant churches, being less prosperous, feel that they can 
afford only two, and these of inferior sanctity.  Some of the smaller 
sects have no sacraments at all -- for which mean economy they will 
indubitable be damned.

SACRED, adj.  Dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine 
character; inspiring solemn thoughts or emotions; as, the Dalai Lama 
of Thibet; the Moogum of M'bwango; the temple of Apes in Ceylon; the 
Cow in India; the Crocodile, the Cat and the Onion of ancient Egypt; 
the Mufti of Moosh; the hair of the dog that bit Noah, etc.

    All things are either sacred or profane.
    The former to ecclesiasts bring gain;
    The latter to the devil appertain.
                                                       Dumbo Omohundro

SANDLOTTER, n.  A vertebrate mammal holding the political views of 
Denis Kearney, a notorious demagogue of San Francisco, whose audiences 
gathered in the open spaces (sandlots) of the town.  True to the 
traditions of his species, this leader of the proletariat was finally 
bought off by his law-and-order enemies, living prosperously silent 
and dying impenitently rich.  But before his treason he imposed upon 
California a constitution that was a confection of sin in a diction of 
solecisms.  The similarity between the words "sandlotter" and 
"sansculotte" is problematically significant, but indubitably 

SAFETY-CLUTCH, n.  A mechanical device acting automatically to prevent 
the fall of an elevator, or cage, in case of an accident to the 
hoisting apparatus.

    Once I seen a human ruin
        In an elevator-well,
    And his members was bestrewin'
        All the place where he had fell.

    And I says, apostrophisin'
        That uncommon woful wreck:
    "Your position’s so surprisin'
        That I tremble for your neck!"

    Then that ruin, smilin' sadly
        And impressive, up and spoke:
    "Well, I wouldn't tremble badly,
        For it’s been a fortnight broke."

    Then, for further comprehension
        Of his attitude, he begs
    I will focus my attention
        On his various arms and legs --

    How they all are contumacious;
        Where they each, respective, lie;
    How one trotter proves ungracious,
        T'other one an _alibi_.

    These particulars is mentioned
        For to show his dismal state,
    Which I wasn't first intentioned
        To specifical relate.

    None is worser to be dreaded
        That I ever have heard tell
    Than the gent’s who there was spreaded
        In that elevator-well.

    Now this tale is allegoric --
        It is figurative all,
    For the well is metaphoric
        And the feller didn't fall.

    I opine it isn't moral
        For a writer-man to cheat,
    And despise to wear a laurel
        As was gotten by deceit.

    For 'tis Politics intended
        By the elevator, mind,
    It will boost a person splendid
        If his talent is the kind.

    Col. Bryan had the talent
        (For the busted man is him)
    And it shot him up right gallant
        Till his head begun to swim.

    Then the rope it broke above him
        And he painful come to earth
    Where there’s nobody to love him
        For his detrimented worth.

    Though he’s livin' none would know him,
        Or at leastwise not as such.
    Moral of this woful poem:
        Frequent oil your safety-clutch.
                                                           Porfer Poog

SAINT, n.  A dead sinner revised and edited.
    The Duchess of Orleans relates that the irreverent old 
calumniator, Marshal Villeroi, who in his youth had known St. Francis 
de Sales, said, on hearing him called saint:  "I am delighted to hear 
that Monsieur de Sales is a saint.  He was fond of saying indelicate 
things, and used to cheat at cards.  In other respects he was a 
perfect gentleman, though a fool."

SALACITY, n.  A certain literary quality frequently observed in 
popular novels, especially in those written by women and young girls, 
who give it another name and think that in introducing it they are 
occupying a neglected field of letters and reaping an overlooked 
harvest.  If they have the misfortune to live long enough they are 
tormented with a desire to burn their sheaves.

SALAMANDER, n.  Originally a reptile inhabiting fire; later, an 
anthropomorphous immortal, but still a pyrophile.  Salamanders are now 
believed to be extinct, the last one of which we have an account 
having been seen in Carcassonne by the Abbe Belloc, who exorcised it 
with a bucket of holy water.

SARCOPHAGUS, n.  Among the Greeks a coffin which being made of a 
certain kind of carnivorous stone, had the peculiar property of 
devouring the body placed in it.  The sarcophagus known to modern 
obsequiographers is commonly a product of the carpenter’s art.

SATAN, n.  One of the Creator’s lamentable mistakes, repented in 
sashcloth and axes.  Being instated as an archangel, Satan made 
himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from 
Heaven.  Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a 
moment and at last went back.  "There is one favor that I should like 
to ask," said he.
    "Name it."
    "Man, I understand, is about to be created.  He will need laws."
    "What, wretch! you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn 
of eternity with hatred of his soul -- you ask for the right to make 
his laws?"
    "Pardon; what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them 
    It was so ordered.

SATIETY, n.  The feeling that one has for the plate after he has eaten 
its contents, madam.

SATIRE, n.  An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the 
vices and follies of the author’s enemies were expounded with 
imperfect tenderness.  In this country satire never had more than a 
sickly and uncertain existence, for the soul of it is wit, wherein we 
are dolefully deficient, the humor that we mistake for it, like all 
humor, being tolerant and sympathetic.  Moreover, although Americans 
are "endowed by their Creator" with abundant vice and folly, it is not 
generally known that these are reprehensible qualities, wherefore the 
satirist is popularly regarded as a soul-spirited knave, and his ever 
victim’s outcry for codefendants evokes a national assent.

    Hail Satire! be thy praises ever sung
    In the dead language of a mummy’s tongue,
    For thou thyself art dead, and damned as well --
    Thy spirit (usefully employed) in Hell.
    Had it been such as consecrates the Bible
    Thou hadst not perished by the law of libel.
                                                          Barney Stims

SATYR, n.  One of the few characters of the Grecian mythology accorded 
recognition in the Hebrew.  (Leviticus, xvii, 7.)  The satyr was at 
first a member of the dissolute community acknowledging a loose 
allegiance with Dionysius, but underwent many transformations and 
improvements.  Not infrequently he is confounded with the faun, a 
later and decenter creation of the Romans, who was less like a man and 
more like a goat.

SAUCE, n.  The one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment.  
A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one 
sauce has only nine hundred and ninety-nine.  For every sauce invented 
and accepted a vice is renounced and forgiven.

SAW, n.  A trite popular saying, or proverb.  (Figurative and 
colloquial.)  So called because it makes its way into a wooden head.  
Following are examples of old saws fitted with new teeth.

        A penny saved is a penny to squander.

        A man is known by the company that he organizes.

        A bad workman quarrels with the man who calls him that.

        A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring.

        Better late than before anybody has invited you.

        Example is better than following it.

        Half a loaf is better than a whole one if there is much else.

        Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.

        What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to 
    do it.

        Least said is soonest disavowed.

        He laughs best who laughs least.

        Speak of the Devil and he will hear about it.

        Of two evils choose to be the least.

        Strike while your employer has a big contract.

        Where there’s a will there’s a won't.

SCARABAEUS, n.  The sacred beetle of the ancient Egyptians, allied to 
our familiar "tumble-bug."  It was supposed to symbolize immortality, 
the fact that God knew why giving it its peculiar sanctity.  Its habit 
of incubating its eggs in a ball of ordure may also have commended it 
to the favor of the priesthood, and may some day assure it an equal 
reverence among ourselves.  True, the American beetle is an inferior 
beetle, but the American priest is an inferior priest.

SCARABEE, n.  The same as scarabaeus.

                He fell by his own hand
                    Beneath the great oak tree.
                He'd traveled in a foreign land.
                He tried to make her understand
                The dance that’s called the Saraband,
                    But he called it Scarabee.
    He had called it so through an afternoon,
        And she, the light of his harem if so might be,
        Had smiled and said naught.  O the body was fair to see,
    All frosted there in the shine o' the moon --
                        Dead for a Scarabee
    And a recollection that came too late.
                            O Fate!
                    They buried him where he lay,
                    He sleeps awaiting the Day,
                            In state,
    And two Possible Puns, moon-eyed and wan,
    Gloom over the grave and then move on.
                        Dead for a Scarabee!
                                                       Fernando Tapple

SCARIFICATION, n.  A form of penance practised by the mediaeval pious.  
The rite was performed, sometimes with a knife, sometimes with a hot 
iron, but always, says Arsenius Asceticus, acceptably if the penitent 
spared himself no pain nor harmless disfigurement.  Scarification, 
with other crude penances, has now been superseded by benefaction.  
The founding of a library or endowment of a university is said to 
yield to the penitent a sharper and more lasting pain than is 
conferred by the knife or iron, and is therefore a surer means of 
grace.  There are, however, two grave objections to it as a 
penitential method:  the good that it does and the taint of justice.

SCEPTER, n.  A king’s staff of office, the sign and symbol of his 
authority.  It was originally a mace with which the sovereign 
admonished his jester and vetoed ministerial measures by breaking the 
bones of their proponents.

SCIMETAR, n.  A curved sword of exceeding keenness, in the conduct of 
which certain Orientals attain a surprising proficiency, as the 
incident here related will serve to show.  The account is translated 
from the Japanese by Shusi Itama, a famous writer of the thirteenth 

        When the great Gichi-Kuktai was Mikado he condemned to 
    decapitation Jijiji Ri, a high officer of the Court.  Soon after 
    the hour appointed for performance of the rite what was his 
    Majesty’s surprise to see calmly approaching the throne the man 
    who should have been at that time ten minutes dead!
        "Seventeen hundred impossible dragons!" shouted the enraged 
    monarch.  "Did I not sentence you to stand in the market-place and 
    have your head struck off by the public executioner at three 
    o'clock?  And is it not now 3:10?"
        "Son of a thousand illustrious deities," answered the 
    condemned minister, "all that you say is so true that the truth is 
    a lie in comparison.  But your heavenly Majesty’s sunny and 
    vitalizing wishes have been pestilently disregarded.  With joy I 
    ran and placed my unworthy body in the market-place.  The 
    executioner appeared with his bare scimetar, ostentatiously 
    whirled it in air, and then, tapping me lightly upon the neck, 
    strode away, pelted by the populace, with whom I was ever a 
    favorite.  I am come to pray for justice upon his own dishonorable 
    and treasonous head."
        "To what regiment of executioners does the black-boweled
    caitiff belong?" asked the Mikado.
        "To the gallant Ninety-eight Hundred and Thirty-seventh -- I 
    know the man.  His name is Sakko-Samshi."
        "Let him be brought before me," said the Mikado to an 
    attendant, and a half-hour later the culprit stood in the 
        "Thou bastard son of a three-legged hunchback without thumbs!" 
    roared the sovereign -- "why didst thou but lightly tap the neck 
    that it should have been thy pleasure to sever?"
        "Lord of Cranes of Cherry Blooms," replied the executioner, 
    unmoved, "command him to blow his nose with his fingers."
        Being commanded, Jijiji Ri laid hold of his nose and trumpeted 
    like an elephant, all expecting to see the severed head flung 
    violently from him.  Nothing occurred:  the performance prospered 
    peacefully to the close, without incident.
        All eyes were now turned on the executioner, who had grown as 
    white as the snows on the summit of Fujiama.  His legs trembled 
    and his breath came in gasps of terror.
        "Several kinds of spike-tailed brass lions!" he cried; "I am a 
    ruined and disgraced swordsman!  I struck the villain feebly 
    because in flourishing the scimetar I had accidentally passed it 
    through my own neck!  Father of the Moon, I resign my office."
        So saying, he gasped his top-knot, lifted off his head, and 
    advancing to the throne laid it humbly at the Mikado’s feet.

SCRAP-BOOK, n.  A book that is commonly edited by a fool.  Many 
persons of some small distinction compile scrap-books containing 
whatever they happen to read about themselves or employ others to 
collect.  One of these egotists was addressed in the lines following, 
by Agamemnon Melancthon Peters:

    Dear Frank, that scrap-book where you boast
        You keep a record true
    Of every kind of peppered roast
            That’s made of you;

    Wherein you paste the printed gibes
        That revel round your name,
    Thinking the laughter of the scribes
            Attests your fame;

    Where all the pictures you arrange
        That comic pencils trace --
    Your funny figure and your strange
            Semitic face --

    Pray lend it me.  Wit I have not,
        Nor art, but there I'll list
    The daily drubbings you'd have got
            Had God a fist.

SCRIBBLER, n.  A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to 
one’s own.

SCRIPTURES, n.  The sacred books of our holy religion, as 
distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other 
faiths are based.

SEAL, n.  A mark impressed upon certain kinds of documents to attest 
their authenticity and authority.  Sometimes it is stamped upon wax, 
and attached to the paper, sometimes into the paper itself.  Sealing, 
in this sense, is a survival of an ancient custom of inscribing 
important papers with cabalistic words or signs to give them a magical 
efficacy independent of the authority that they represent.  In the 
British museum are preserved many ancient papers, mostly of a 
sacerdotal character, validated by necromantic pentagrams and other 
devices, frequently initial letters of words to conjure with; and in 
many instances these are attached in the same way that seals are 
appended now.  As nearly every reasonless and apparently meaningless 
custom, rite or observance of modern times had origin in some remote 
utility, it is pleasing to note an example of ancient nonsense 
evolving in the process of ages into something really useful.  Our 
word "sincere" is derived from _sine cero_, without wax, but the 
learned are not in agreement as to whether this refers to the absence 
of the cabalistic signs, or to that of the wax with which letters were 
formerly closed from public scrutiny.  Either view of the matter will 
serve one in immediate need of an hypothesis.  The initials L.S., 
commonly appended to signatures of legal documents, mean _locum 
sigillis_, the place of the seal, although the seal is no longer used 
-- an admirable example of conservatism distinguishing Man from the 
beasts that perish.  The words _locum sigillis_ are humbly suggested 
as a suitable motto for the Pribyloff Islands whenever they shall take 
their place as a sovereign State of the American Union.

SEINE, n.  A kind of net for effecting an involuntary change of 
environment.  For fish it is made strong and coarse, but women are 
more easily taken with a singularly delicate fabric weighted with 
small, cut stones.

    The devil casting a seine of lace,
        (With precious stones 'twas weighted)
    Drew it into the landing place
        And its contents calculated.

    All souls of women were in that sack --
        A draft miraculous, precious!
    But ere he could throw it across his back
        They'd all escaped through the meshes.
                                                      Baruch de Loppis

SELF-ESTEEM, n.  An erroneous appraisement.

SELF-EVIDENT, adj.  Evident to one’s self and to nobody else.

SELFISH, adj.  Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.

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

SERIAL, n.  A literary work, usually a story that is not true, 
creeping through several issues of a newspaper or magazine.  
Frequently appended to each installment is a "synposis of preceding 
chapters" for those who have not read them, but a direr need is a 
synposis of succeeding chapters for those who do not intend to read 
_them_.  A synposis of the entire work would be still better.
    The late James F. Bowman was writing a serial tale for a weekly 
paper in collaboration with a genius whose name has not come down to 
us.  They wrote, not jointly but alternately, Bowman supplying the 
installment for one week, his friend for the next, and so on, world 
without end, they hoped.  Unfortunately they quarreled, and one Monday 
morning when Bowman read the paper to prepare himself for his task, he 
found his work cut out for him in a way to surprise and pain him.  His 
collaborator had embarked every character of the narrative on a ship 
and sunk them all in the deepest part of the Atlantic.

SEVERALTY, n.  Separateness, as, lands in severalty, i.e., lands held 
individually, not in joint ownership.  Certain tribes of Indians are 
believed now to be sufficiently civilized to have in severalty the 
lands that they have hitherto held as tribal organizations, and could 
not sell to the Whites for waxen beads and potato whiskey.

    Lo! the poor Indian whose unsuited mind
    Saw death before, hell and the grave behind;
    Whom thrifty settler ne'er besought to stay --
    His small belongings their appointed prey;
    Whom Dispossession, with alluring wile,
    Persuaded elsewhere every little while!
    His fire unquenched and his undying worm
    By "land in severalty" (charming term!)
    Are cooled and killed, respectively, at last,
    And he to his new holding anchored fast!

SHERIFF, n.  In America the chief executive office of a country, whose 
most characteristic duties, in some of the Western and Southern 
States, are the catching and hanging of rogues.

    John Elmer Pettibone Cajee
    (I write of him with little glee)
    Was just as bad as he could be.

    'Twas frequently remarked:  "I swon!
    The sun has never looked upon
    So bad a man as Neighbor John."

    A sinner through and through, he had
    This added fault:  it made him mad
    To know another man was bad.

    In such a case he thought it right
    To rise at any hour of night
    And quench that wicked person’s light.

    Despite the town’s entreaties, he
    Would hale him to the nearest tree
    And leave him swinging wide and free.

    Or sometimes, if the humor came,
    A luckless wight’s reluctant frame
    Was given to the cheerful flame.

    While it was turning nice and brown,
    All unconcerned John met the frown
    Of that austere and righteous town.

    "How sad," his neighbors said, "that he
    So scornful of the law should be --
    An anar c, h, i, s, t."

    (That is the way that they preferred
    To utter the abhorrent word,
    So strong the aversion that it stirred.)

    "Resolved," they said, continuing,
    "That Badman John must cease this thing
    Of having his unlawful fling.

    "Now, by these sacred relics" -- here
    Each man had out a souvenir
    Got at a lynching yesteryear --

    "By these we swear he shall forsake
    His ways, nor cause our hearts to ache
    By sins of rope and torch and stake.

    "We'll tie his red right hand until
    He'll have small freedom to fulfil
    The mandates of his lawless will."

    So, in convention then and there,
    They named him Sheriff.  The affair
    Was opened, it is said, with prayer.
                                                     J. Milton Sloluck

SIREN, n.  One of several musical prodigies famous for a vain attempt 
to dissuade Odysseus from a life on the ocean wave.  Figuratively, any 
lady of splendid promise, dissembled purpose and disappointing 

SLANG, n.  The grunt of the human hog (_Pignoramus intolerabilis_) 
with an audible memory.  The speech of one who utters with his tongue 
what he thinks with his ear, and feels the pride of a creator in 
accomplishing the feat of a parrot.  A means (under Providence) of 
setting up as a wit without a capital of sense.

SMITHAREEN, n.  A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain.  The word is 
used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer 
who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it "led them to the devil" 
it is seen at its best:

    The wheels go round without a sound --
        The maidens hold high revel;
    In sinful mood, insanely gay,
    True spinsters spin adown the way
        From duty to the devil!
    They laugh, they sing, and -- ting-a-ling!
        Their bells go all the morning;
    Their lanterns bright bestar the night
        Pedestrians a-warning.
    With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands,
        Good-Lording and O-mying,
    Her rheumatism forgotten quite,
        Her fat with anger frying.
    She blocks the path that leads to wrath,
        Jack Satan’s power defying.
    The wheels go round without a sound
        The lights burn red and blue and green.
    What’s this that’s found upon the ground?
        Poor Charlotte Smith’s a smithareen!
                                                     John William Yope

SOPHISTRY, n.  The controversial method of an opponent, distinguished 
from one’s own by superior insincerity and fooling.  This method is 
that of the later Sophists, a Grecian sect of philosophers who began 
by teaching wisdom, prudence, science, art and, in brief, whatever men 
ought to know, but lost themselves in a maze of quibbles and a fog of 

    His bad opponent’s "facts" he sweeps away,
    And drags his sophistry to light of day;
    Then swears they're pushed to madness who resort
    To falsehood of so desperate a sort.
    Not so; like sods upon a dead man’s breast,
    He lies most lightly who the least is pressed.
                                                        Polydore Smith

SORCERY, n.  The ancient prototype and forerunner of political 
influence.  It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was 
punished by torture and death.  Augustine Nicholas relates that a poor 
peasant who had been accused of sorcery was put to the torture to 
compel a confession.  After enduring a few gentle agonies the 
suffering simpleton admitted his guilt, but naively asked his 
tormentors if it were not possible to be a sorcerer without knowing 

SOUL, n.  A spiritual entity concerning which there hath been brave 
disputation.  Plato held that those souls which in a previous state of 
existence (antedating Athens) had obtained the clearest glimpses of 
eternal truth entered into the bodies of persons who became 
philosophers.  Plato himself was a philosopher.  The souls that had 
least contemplated divine truth animated the bodies of usurpers and 
despots.  Dionysius I, who had threatened to decapitate the broad- 
browed philosopher, was a usurper and a despot.  Plato, doubtless, was 
not the first to construct a system of philosophy that could be quoted 
against his enemies; certainly he was not the last.
    "Concerning the nature of the soul," saith the renowned author of 
_Diversiones Sanctorum_, "there hath been hardly more argument than 
that of its place in the body.  Mine own belief is that the soul hath 
her seat in the abdomen -- in which faith we may discern and interpret 
a truth hitherto unintelligible, namely that the glutton is of all men 
most devout.  He is said in the Scripture to 'make a god of his belly' 
-- why, then, should he not be pious, having ever his Deity with him 
to freshen his faith?  Who so well as he can know the might and 
majesty that he shrines?  Truly and soberly, the soul and the stomach 
are one Divine Entity; and such was the belief of Promasius, who 
nevertheless erred in denying it immortality.  He had observed that 
its visible and material substance failed and decayed with the rest of 
the body after death, but of its immaterial essence he knew nothing.  
This is what we call the Appetite, and it survives the wreck and reek 
of mortality, to be rewarded or punished in another world, according 
to what it hath demanded in the flesh.  The Appetite whose coarse 
clamoring was for the unwholesome viands of the general market and the 
public refectory shall be cast into eternal famine, whilst that which 
firmly through civilly insisted on ortolans, caviare, terrapin, 
anchovies, _pates de foie gras_ and all such Christian comestibles 
shall flesh its spiritual tooth in the souls of them forever and ever, 
and wreak its divine thirst upon the immortal parts of the rarest and 
richest wines ever quaffed here below.  Such is my religious faith, 
though I grieve to confess that neither His Holiness the Pope nor His 
Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury (whom I equally and profoundly 
revere) will assent to its dissemination."

SPOOKER, n.  A writer whose imagination concerns itself with 
supernatural phenomena, especially in the doings of spooks.  One of 
the most illustrious spookers of our time is Mr. William D. Howells, 
who introduces a well-credentialed reader to as respectable and 
mannerly a company of spooks as one could wish to meet.  To the terror 
that invests the chairman of a district school board, the Howells 
ghost adds something of the mystery enveloping a farmer from another 

STORY, n.  A narrative, commonly untrue.  The truth of the stories 
here following has, however, not been successfully impeached.

    One evening Mr. Rudolph Block, of New York, found himself seated 
at dinner alongside Mr. Percival Pollard, the distinguished critic.
    "Mr. Pollard," said he, "my book, _The Biography of a Dead Cow_, 
is published anonymously, but you can hardly be ignorant of its 
authorship.  Yet in reviewing it you speak of it as the work of the 
Idiot of the Century.  Do you think that fair criticism?"
    "I am very sorry, sir," replied the critic, amiably, "but it did 
not occur to me that you really might not wish the public to know who 
wrote it."

    Mr. W.C. Morrow, who used to live in San Jose, California, was 
addicted to writing ghost stories which made the reader feel as if a 
stream of lizards, fresh from the ice, were streaking it up his back 
and hiding in his hair.  San Jose was at that time believed to be 
haunted by the visible spirit of a noted bandit named Vasquez, who had 
been hanged there.  The town was not very well lighted, and it is 
putting it mildly to say that San Jose was reluctant to be out o' 
nights.  One particularly dark night two gentlemen were abroad in the 
loneliest spot within the city limits, talking loudly to keep up their 
courage, when they came upon Mr. J.J. Owen, a well-known journalist.
    "Why, Owen," said one, "what brings you here on such a night as 
this?  You told me that this is one of Vasquez' favorite haunts!  And 
you are a believer.  Aren't you afraid to be out?"
    "My dear fellow," the journalist replied with a drear autumnal 
cadence in his speech, like the moan of a leaf-laden wind, "I am 
afraid to be in.  I have one of Will Morrow’s stories in my pocket and 
I don't dare to go where there is light enough to read it."

    Rear-Admiral Schley and Representative Charles F. Joy were 
standing near the Peace Monument, in Washington, discussing the 
question, Is success a failure?  Mr. Joy suddenly broke off in the 
middle of an eloquent sentence, exclaiming:  "Hello!  I've heard that 
band before.  Santlemann’s, I think."
    "I don't hear any band," said Schley.
    "Come to think, I don't either," said Joy; "but I see General 
Miles coming down the avenue, and that pageant always affects me in 
the same way as a brass band.  One has to scrutinize one’s impressions 
pretty closely, or one will mistake their origin."
    While the Admiral was digesting this hasty meal of philosophy 
General Miles passed in review, a spectacle of impressive dignity.  
When the tail of the seeming procession had passed and the two 
observers had recovered from the transient blindness caused by its 
effulgence --
    "He seems to be enjoying himself," said the Admiral.
    "There is nothing," assented Joy, thoughtfully, "that he enjoys 
one-half so well."

    The illustrious statesman, Champ Clark, once lived about a mile 
from the village of Jebigue, in Missouri.  One day he rode into town 
on a favorite mule, and, hitching the beast on the sunny side of a 
street, in front of a saloon, he went inside in his character of 
teetotaler, to apprise the barkeeper that wine is a mocker.  It was a 
dreadfully hot day.  Pretty soon a neighbor came in and seeing Clark, 
    "Champ, it is not right to leave that mule out there in the sun.  
He'll roast, sure! -- he was smoking as I passed him."
    "O, he’s all right," said Clark, lightly; "he’s an inveterate 
    The neighbor took a lemonade, but shook his head and repeated that 
it was not right.
    He was a conspirator.  There had been a fire the night before:  a 
stable just around the corner had burned and a number of horses had 
put on their immortality, among them a young colt, which was roasted 
to a rich nut-brown.  Some of the boys had turned Mr. Clark’s mule 
loose and substituted the mortal part of the colt.  Presently another 
man entered the saloon.
    "For mercy’s sake!" he said, taking it with sugar, "do remove that 
mule, barkeeper:  it smells."
    "Yes," interposed Clark, "that animal has the best nose in 
Missouri.  But if he doesn't mind, you shouldn't."
    In the course of human events Mr. Clark went out, and there, 
apparently, lay the incinerated and shrunken remains of his charger. 
The boys idd not have any fun out of Mr. Clarke, who looked at the 
body and, with the non-committal expression to which he owes so much 
of his political preferment, went away.  But walking home late that 
night he saw his mule standing silent and solemn by the wayside in the 
misty moonlight.  Mentioning the name of Helen Blazes with uncommon 
emphasis, Mr. Clark took the back track as hard as ever he could hook 
it, and passed the night in town.

    General H.H. Wotherspoon, president of the Army War College, has a 
pet rib-nosed baboon, an animal of uncommon intelligence but 
imperfectly beautiful.  Returning to his apartment one evening, the 
General was surprised and pained to find Adam (for so the creature is 
named, the general being a Darwinian) sitting up for him and wearing 
his master’s best uniform coat, epaulettes and all.
    "You confounded remote ancestor!" thundered the great strategist, 
"what do you mean by being out of bed after naps? -- and with my coat 
    Adam rose and with a reproachful look got down on all fours in the 
manner of his kind and, scuffling across the room to a table, returned 
with a visiting-card:  General Barry had called and, judging by an 
empty champagne bottle and several cigar-stumps, had been hospitably 
entertained while waiting.  The general apologized to his faithful 
progenitor and retired.  The next day he met General Barry, who said:
    "Spoon, old man, when leaving you last evening I forgot to ask you 
about those excellent cigars.  Where did you get them?"
    General Wotherspoon did not deign to reply, but walked away.
    "Pardon me, please," said Barry, moving after him; "I was joking 
of course.  Why, I knew it was not you before I had been in the room 
fifteen minutes."

SUCCESS, n.  The one unpardonable sin against one’s fellows.  In 
literature, and particularly in poetry, the elements of success are 
exceedingly simple, and are admirably set forth in the following lines 
by the reverend Father Gassalasca Jape, entitled, for some mysterious 
reason, "John A. Joyce."

    The bard who would prosper must carry a book,
        Do his thinking in prose and wear
    A crimson cravat, a far-away look
        And a head of hexameter hair.
    Be thin in your thought and your body'll be fat;
    If you wear your hair long you needn't your hat.

SUFFRAGE, n.  Expression of opinion by means of a ballot.  The right 
of suffrage (which is held to be both a privilege and a duty) means, 
as commonly interpreted, the right to vote for the man of another 
man’s choice, and is highly prized.  Refusal to do so has the bad name 
of "incivism."  The incivilian, however, cannot be properly arraigned
for his crime, for there is no legitimate accuser.  If the accuser is 
himself guilty he has no standing in the court of opinion; if not, he 
profits by the crime, for A’s abstention from voting gives greater 
weight to the vote of B.  By female suffrage is meant the right of a 
woman to vote as some man tells her to.  It is based on female 
responsibility, which is somewhat limited.  The woman most eager to 
jump out of her petticoat to assert her rights is first to jump back 
into it when threatened with a switching for misusing them.

SYCOPHANT, n.  One who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he 
may not be commanded to turn and be kicked.  He is sometimes an 

    As the lean leech, its victim found, is pleased
    To fix itself upon a part diseased
    Till, its black hide distended with bad blood,
    It drops to die of surfeit in the mud,
    So the base sycophant with joy descries
    His neighbor’s weak spot and his mouth applies,
    Gorges and prospers like the leech, although,
    Unlike that reptile, he will not let go.
    Gelasma, if it paid you to devote
    Your talent to the service of a goat,
    Showing by forceful logic that its beard
    Is more than Aaron’s fit to be revered;
    If to the task of honoring its smell
    Profit had prompted you, and love as well,
    The world would benefit at last by you
    And wealthy malefactors weep anew --
    Your favor for a moment’s space denied
    And to the nobler object turned aside.
    Is't not enough that thrifty millionaires
    Who loot in freight and spoliate in fares,
    Or, cursed with consciences that bid them fly
    To safer villainies of darker dye,
    Forswearing robbery and fain, instead,
    To steal (they call it "cornering") our bread
    May see you groveling their boots to lick
    And begging for the favor of a kick?
    Still must you follow to the bitter end
    Your sycophantic disposition’s trend,
    And in your eagerness to please the rich
    Hunt hungry sinners to their final ditch?
    In Morgan’s praise you smite the sounding wire,
    And sing hosannas to great Havemeyher!
    What’s Satan done that him you should eschew?
    He too is reeking rich -- deducting _you_.

SYLLOGISM, n.  A logical formula consisting of a major and a minor 
assumption and an inconsequent.  (See LOGIC.)

SYLPH, n.  An immaterial but visible being that inhabited the air when 
the air was an element and before it was fatally polluted with factory 
smoke, sewer gas and similar products of civilization.  Sylphs were 
allied to gnomes, nymphs and salamanders, which dwelt, respectively, 
in earth, water and fire, all now insalubrious.  Sylphs, like fowls of 
the air, were male and female, to no purpose, apparently, for if they 
had progeny they must have nested in accessible places, none of the 
chicks having ever been seen.

SYMBOL, n.  Something that is supposed to typify or stand for 
something else.  Many symbols are mere "survivals" -- things which 
having no longer any utility continue to exist because we have 
inherited the tendency to make them; as funereal urns carved on 
memorial monuments.  They were once real urns holding the ashes of the 
dead.  We cannot stop making them, but we can give them a name that 
conceals our helplessness.

SYMBOLIC, adj.  Pertaining to symbols and the use and interpretation 
of symbols.

    They say 'tis conscience feels compunction;
    I hold that that’s the stomach’s function,
    For of the sinner I have noted
    That when he’s sinned he’s somewhat bloated,
    Or ill some other ghastly fashion
    Within that bowel of compassion.
    True, I believe the only sinner
    Is he that eats a shabby dinner.
    You know how Adam with good reason,
    For eating apples out of season,
    Was "cursed."  But that is all symbolic:
    The truth is, Adam had the colic.


T, the twentieth letter of the English alphabet, was by the Greeks 
absurdly called _tau_.  In the alphabet whence ours comes it had the 
form of the rude corkscrew of the period, and when it stood alone 
(which was more than the Phoenicians could always do) signified 
_Tallegal_, translated by the learned Dr. Brownrigg, "tanglefoot."

TABLE D'HOTE, n.  A caterer’s thrifty concession to the universal 
passion for irresponsibility.

    Old Paunchinello, freshly wed,
        Took Madam P. to table,
    And there deliriously fed
        As fast as he was able.

    "I dote upon good grub," he cried,
        Intent upon its throatage.
    "Ah, yes," said the neglected bride,
        "You're in your _table d'hotage_."
                                                      Associated Poets

TAIL, n.  The part of an animal’s spine that has transcended its 
natural limitations to set up an independent existence in a world of 
its own.  Excepting in its foetal state, Man is without a tail, a 
privation of which he attests an hereditary and uneasy consciousness 
by the coat-skirt of the male and the train of the female, and by a 
marked tendency to ornament that part of his attire where the tail 
should be, and indubitably once was.  This tendency is most observable 
in the female of the species, in whom the ancestral sense is strong 
and persistent.  The tailed men described by Lord Monboddo are now 
generally regarded as a product of an imagination unusually 
susceptible to influences generated in the golden age of our pithecan 

TAKE, v.t.  To acquire, frequently by force but preferably by stealth.

TALK, v.t.  To commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an 
impulse without purpose.

TARIFF, n.  A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the 
domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.

    The Enemy of Human Souls
    Sat grieving at the cost of coals;
    For Hell had been annexed of late,
    And was a sovereign Southern State.

    "It were no more than right," said he,
    "That I should get my fuel free.
    The duty, neither just nor wise,
    Compels me to economize --
    Whereby my broilers, every one,
    Are execrably underdone.
    What would they have? -- although I yearn
    To do them nicely to a turn,
    I can't afford an honest heat.
    This tariff makes even devils cheat!
    I'm ruined, and my humble trade
    All rascals may at will invade:
    Beneath my nose the public press
    Outdoes me in sulphureousness;
    The bar ingeniously applies
    To my undoing my own lies;
    My medicines the doctors use
    (Albeit vainly) to refuse
    To me my fair and rightful prey
    And keep their own in shape to pay;
    The preachers by example teach
    What, scorning to perform, I teach;
    And statesmen, aping me, all make
    More promises than they can break.
    Against such competition I
    Lift up a disregarded cry.
    Since all ignore my just complaint,
    By Hokey-Pokey!  I'll turn saint!"
    Now, the Republicans, who all
    Are saints, began at once to bawl
    Against _his_ competition; so
    There was a devil of a go!
    They locked horns with him, tete-a-tete
    In acrimonious debate,
    Till Democrats, forlorn and lone,
    Had hopes of coming by their own.
    That evil to avert, in haste
    The two belligerents embraced;
    But since 'twere wicked to relax
    A tittle of the Sacred Tax,
    'Twas finally agreed to grant
    The bold Insurgent-protestant
    A bounty on each soul that fell
    Into his ineffectual Hell.
                                                            Edam Smith

TECHNICALITY, n.  In an English court a man named Home was tried for 
slander in having accused his neighbor of murder.  His exact words 
were:  "Sir Thomas Holt hath taken a cleaver and stricken his cook 
upon the head, so that one side of the head fell upon one shoulder and 
the other side upon the other shoulder."  The defendant was acquitted 
by instruction of the court, the learned judges holding that the words 
did not charge murder, for they did not affirm the death of the cook, 
that being only an inference.

TEDIUM, n.  Ennui, the state or condition of one that is bored.  Many 
fanciful derivations of the word have been affirmed, but so high an 
authority as Father Jape says that it comes from a very obvious 
source -- the first words of the ancient Latin hymn _Te Deum 
Laudamus_.  In this apparently natural derivation there is something 
that saddens.

TEETOTALER, n.  One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, 
sometimes tolerably totally.

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

TELESCOPE, n.  A device having a relation to the eye similar to that 
of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us 
with a multitude of needless details.  Luckily it is unprovided with a 
bell summoning us to the sacrifice.

TENACITY, n.  A certain quality of the human hand in its relation to 
the coin of the realm.  It attains its highest development in the hand 
of authority and is considered a serviceable equipment for a career in 
politics.  The following illustrative lines were written of a 
Californian gentleman in high political preferment, who has passed to 
his accounting:

    Of such tenacity his grip
    That nothing from his hand can slip.
    Well-buttered eels you may o'erwhelm
    In tubs of liquid slippery-elm
    In vain -- from his detaining pinch
    They cannot struggle half an inch!
    'Tis lucky that he so is planned
    That breath he draws not with his hand,
    For if he did, so great his greed
    He'd draw his last with eager speed.
    Nay, that were well, you say.  Not so
    He'd draw but never let it go!

THEOSOPHY, n.  An ancient faith having all the certitude of religion 
and all the mystery of science.  The modern Theosophist holds, with 
the Buddhists, that we live an incalculable number of times on this 
earth, in as many several bodies, because one life is not long enough 
for our complete spiritual development; that is, a single lifetime 
does not suffice for us to become as wise and good as we choose to 
wish to become.  To be absolutely wise and good -- that is perfection; 
and the Theosophist is so keen-sighted as to have observed that 
everything desirous of improvement eventually attains perfection.  
Less competent observers are disposed to except cats, which seem 
neither wiser nor better than they were last year.  The greatest and 
fattest of recent Theosophists was the late Madame Blavatsky, who had 
no cat.

TIGHTS, n.  An habiliment of the stage designed to reinforce the 
general acclamation of the press agent with a particular publicity.  
Public attention was once somewhat diverted from this garment to Miss 
Lillian Russell’s refusal to wear it, and many were the conjectures as 
to her motive, the guess of Miss Pauline Hall showing a high order of 
ingenuity and sustained reflection.  It was Miss Hall’s belief that 
nature had not endowed Miss Russell with beautiful legs.  This theory 
was impossible of acceptance by the male understanding, but the 
conception of a faulty female leg was of so prodigious originality as 
to rank among the most brilliant feats of philosophical speculation!  
It is strange that in all the controversy regarding Miss Russell’s 
aversion to tights no one seems to have thought to ascribe it to what 
was known among the ancients as "modesty."  The nature of that 
sentiment is now imperfectly understood, and possibly incapable of 
exposition with the vocabulary that remains to us.  The study of lost 
arts has, however, been recently revived and some of the arts 
themselves recovered.  This is an epoch of _renaissances_, and there 
is ground for hope that the primitive "blush" may be dragged from its 
hiding-place amongst the tombs of antiquity and hissed on to the 

TOMB, n.  The House of Indifference.  Tombs are now by common consent 
invested with a certain sanctity, but when they have been long 
tenanted it is considered no sin to break them open and rifle them, 
the famous Egyptologist, Dr. Huggyns, explaining that a tomb may be 
innocently "glened" as soon as its occupant is done "smellynge," the 
soul being then all exhaled.  This reasonable view is now generally 
accepted by archaeologists, whereby the noble science of Curiosity has 
been greatly dignified.

TOPE, v.  To tipple, booze, swill, soak, guzzle, lush, bib, or swig.  
In the individual, toping is regarded with disesteem, but toping 
nations are in the forefront of civilization and power.  When pitted 
against the hard-drinking Christians the absemious Mahometans go down 
like grass before the scythe.  In India one hundred thousand beef- 
eating and brandy-and-soda guzzling Britons hold in subjection two 
hundred and fifty million vegetarian abstainers of the same Aryan 
race.  With what an easy grace the whisky-loving American pushed the 
temperate Spaniard out of his possessions!  From the time when the 
Berserkers ravaged all the coasts of western Europe and lay drunk in 
every conquered port it has been the same way:  everywhere the nations 
that drink too much are observed to fight rather well and not too 
righteously.  Wherefore the estimable old ladies who abolished the 
canteen from the American army may justly boast of having materially 
augmented the nation’s military power.

TORTOISE, n.  A creature thoughtfully created to supply occasion for 
the following lines by the illustrious Ambat Delaso:

                          TO MY PET TORTOISE

    My friend, you are not graceful -- not at all;
    Your gait’s between a stagger and a sprawl.

    Nor are you beautiful:  your head’s a snake’s
    To look at, and I do not doubt it aches.

    As to your feet, they'd make an angel weep.
    'Tis true you take them in whene'er you sleep.

    No, you're not pretty, but you have, I own,
    A certain firmness -- mostly you're [sic] backbone.

    Firmness and strength (you have a giant’s thews)
    Are virtues that the great know how to use --

    I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole,
    You lack -- excuse my mentioning it -- Soul.

    So, to be candid, unreserved and true,
    I'd rather you were I than I were you.

    Perhaps, however, in a time to be,
    When Man’s extinct, a better world may see

    Your progeny in power and control,
    Due to the genesis and growth of Soul.

    So I salute you as a reptile grand
    Predestined to regenerate the land.

    Father of Possibilities, O deign
    To accept the homage of a dying reign!

    In the far region of the unforeknown
    I dream a tortoise upon every throne.

    I see an Emperor his head withdraw
    Into his carapace for fear of Law;

    A King who carries something else than fat,
    Howe'er acceptably he carries that;

    A President not strenuously bent
    On punishment of audible dissent --

    Who never shot (it were a vain attack)
    An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back;

    Subject and citizens that feel no need
    To make the March of Mind a wild stampede;

    All progress slow, contemplative, sedate,
    And "Take your time" the word, in Church and State.

    O Tortoise, 'tis a happy, happy dream,
    My glorious testudinous regime!

    I wish in Eden you'd brought this about
    By slouching in and chasing Adam out.

TREE, n.  A tall vegetable intended by nature to serve as a penal 
apparatus, though through a miscarriage of justice most trees bear 
only a negligible fruit, or none at all.  When naturally fruited, the 
tree is a beneficient agency of civilization and an important factor 
in public morals.  In the stern West and the sensitive South its fruit 
(white and black respectively) though not eaten, is agreeable to the 
public taste and, though not exported, profitable to the general 
welfare.  That the legitimate relation of the tree to justice was no 
discovery of Judge Lynch (who, indeed, conceded it no primacy over the 
lamp-post and the bridge-girder) is made plain by the following 
passage from Morryster, who antedated him by two centuries:

        While in yt londe I was carried to see ye Ghogo tree, whereof 
    I had hearde moch talk; but sayynge yt I saw naught remarkabyll in 
    it, ye hed manne of ye villayge where it grewe made answer as 
        "Ye tree is not nowe in fruite, but in his seasonne you shall 
    see dependynge fr. his braunches all soch as have affroynted ye 
    King his Majesty."
        And I was furder tolde yt ye worde "Ghogo" sygnifyeth in yr 
    tong ye same as "rapscal" in our owne.
                                               _Trauvells in ye Easte_

TRIAL, n.  A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the 
blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.  In order to 
effect this purpose it is necessary to supply a contrast in the person 
of one who is called the defendant, the prisoner, or the accused.  If 
the contrast is made sufficiently clear this person is made to undergo 
such an affliction as will give the virtuous gentlemen a comfortable 
sense of their immunity, added to that of their worth.  In our day the 
accused is usually a human being, or a socialist, but in mediaeval 
times, animals, fishes, reptiles and insects were brought to trial.  A 
beast that had taken human life, or practiced sorcery, was duly 
arrested, tried and, if condemned, put to death by the public 
executioner.  Insects ravaging grain fields, orchards or vineyards 
were cited to appeal by counsel before a civil tribunal, and after 
testimony, argument and condemnation, if they continued _in 
contumaciam_ the matter was taken to a high ecclesiastical court, 
where they were solemnly excommunicated and anathematized.  In a 
street of Toledo, some pigs that had wickedly run between the 
viceroy’s legs, upsetting him, were arrested on a warrant, tried and 
punished.  In Naples and ass was condemned to be burned at the stake, 
but the sentence appears not to have been executed.  D'Addosio relates 
from the court records many trials of pigs, bulls, horses, cocks, 
dogs, goats, etc., greatly, it is believed, to the betterment of their 
conduct and morals.  In 1451 a suit was brought against the leeches 
infesting some ponds about Berne, and the Bishop of Lausanne, 
instructed by the faculty of Heidelberg University, directed that some 
of "the aquatic worms" be brought before the local magistracy.  This 
was done and the leeches, both present and absent, were ordered to 
leave the places that they had infested within three days on pain of 
incurring "the malediction of God."  In the voluminous records of this 
_cause celebre_ nothing is found to show whether the offenders braved 
the punishment, or departed forthwith out of that inhospitable 

TRICHINOSIS, n.  The pig’s reply to proponents of porcophagy.
    Moses Mendlessohn having fallen ill sent for a Christian 
physician, who at once diagnosed the philosopher’s disorder as 
trichinosis, but tactfully gave it another name.  "You need and 
immediate change of diet," he said; "you must eat six ounces of pork 
every other day."
    "Pork?" shrieked the patient -- "pork?  Nothing shall induce me to 
touch it!"
    "Do you mean that?" the doctor gravely asked.
    "I swear it!"
    "Good! -- then I will undertake to cure you."

TRINITY, n.  In the multiplex theism of certain Christian churches, 
three entirely distinct deities consistent with only one.  Subordinate 
deities of the polytheistic faith, such as devils and angels, are not 
dowered with the power of combination, and must urge individually 
their clames to adoration and propitiation.  The Trinity is one of the 
most sublime mysteries of our holy religion.  In rejecting it because 
it is incomprehensible, Unitarians betray their inadequate sense of 
theological fundamentals.  In religion we believe only what we do not 
understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that 
contradicts an incomprehensible one.  In that case we believe the 
former as a part of the latter.

TROGLODYTE, n.  Specifically, a cave-dweller of the paleolithic 
period, after the Tree and before the Flat.  A famous community of 
troglodytes dwelt with David in the Cave of Adullam.  The colony 
consisted of "every one that was in distress, and every one that was 
in debt, and every one that was discontented" -- in brief, all the 
Socialists of Judah.

TRUCE, n.  Friendship.

TRUTH, n.  An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance.  
Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the 
most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of 
existing with increasing activity to the end of time.

TRUTHFUL, adj.  Dumb and illiterate.

TRUST, n.  In American politics, a large corporation composed in 
greater part of thrifty working men, widows of small means, orphans in 
the care of guardians and the courts, with many similar malefactors 
and public enemies.

TURKEY, n.  A large bird whose flesh when eaten on certain religious 
anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and 
gratitude.  Incidentally, it is pretty good eating.

TWICE, adv.  Once too often.

TYPE, n.  Pestilent bits of metal suspected of destroying 
civilization and enlightenment, despite their obvious agency in this 
incomparable dictionary.

TZETZE (or 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_).


UBIQUITY, n.  The gift or power of being in all places at one time, 
but not in all places at all times, which is omnipresence, an 
attribute of God and the luminiferous ether only.  This important 
distinction between ubiquity and omnipresence was not clear to the 
mediaeval Church and there was much bloodshed about it.  Certain 
Lutherans, who affirmed the presence everywhere of Christ’s body were 
known as Ubiquitarians.  For this error they were doubtless damned, 
for Christ’s body is present only in the eucharist, though that 
sacrament may be performed in more than one place simultaneously.  In 
recent times ubiquity has not always been understood -- not even by 
Sir Boyle Roche, for example, who held that a man cannot be in two 
places at once unless he is a bird.

UGLINESS, n.  A gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue 
without humility.

ULTIMATUM, n.  In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to 
    Having received an ultimatum from Austria, the Turkish Ministry 
met to consider it.
    "O servant of the Prophet," said the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk 
to the Mamoosh of the Invincible Army, "how many unconquerable 
soldiers have we in arms?"
    "Upholder of the Faith," that dignitary replied after examining 
his memoranda, "they are in numbers as the leaves of the forest!"
    "And how many impenetrable battleships strike terror to the hearts 
of all Christian swine?" he asked the Imaum of the Ever Victorious 
    "Uncle of the Full Moon," was the reply, "deign to know that they 
are as the waves of the ocean, the sands of the desert and the stars 
of Heaven!"
    For eight hours the broad brow of the Sheik of the Imperial 
Chibouk was corrugated with evidences of deep thought:  he was 
calculating the chances of war.  Then, "Sons of angels," he said, "the 
die is cast!  I shall suggest to the Ulema of the Imperial Ear that he 
advise inaction.  In the name of Allah, the council is adjourned."

UN-AMERICAN, adj.  Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.

UNCTION, n.  An oiling, or greasing.  The rite of extreme unction 
consists in touching with oil consecrated by a bishop several parts of 
the body of one engaged in dying.  Marbury relates that after the rite 
had been administered to a certain wicked English nobleman it was 
discovered that the oil had not been properly consecrated and no other 
could be obtained.  When informed of this the sick man said in anger:  
"Then I'll be damned if I die!"
    "My son," said the priest, "this is what we fear."

UNDERSTANDING, n.  A cerebral secretion that enables one having it to 
know a house from a horse by the roof on the house.  Its nature and 
laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke, who rode a house, and 
Kant, who lived in a horse.

    His understanding was so keen
    That all things which he'd felt, heard, seen,
    He could interpret without fail
    If he was in or out of jail.
    He wrote at Inspiration’s call
    Deep disquisitions on them all,
    Then, pent at last in an asylum,
    Performed the service to compile 'em.
    So great a writer, all men swore,
    They never had not read before.
                                                       Jorrock Wormley

UNITARIAN, n.  One who denies the divinity of a Trinitarian.

UNIVERSALIST, n.  One who forgoes the advantage of a Hell for persons 
of another faith.

URBANITY, n.  The kind of civility that urban observers ascribe to 
dwellers in all cities but New York.  Its commonest expression is 
heard in the words, "I beg your pardon," and it is not consistent with 
disregard of the rights of others.

    The owner of a powder mill
    Was musing on a distant hill --
        Something his mind foreboded --
    When from the cloudless sky there fell
    A deviled human kidney!  Well,
        The man’s mill had exploded.
    His hat he lifted from his head;
    "I beg your pardon, sir," he said;
        "I didn't know 'twas loaded."

USAGE, n.  The First Person of the literary Trinity, the Second and 
Third being Custom and Conventionality.  Imbued with a decent 
reverence for this Holy Triad an industrious writer may hope to 
produce books that will live as long as the fashion.

UXORIOUSNESS, n.  A perverted affection that has strayed to one’s own 


VALOR, n.  A soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler’s 
    "Why have you halted?" roared the commander of a division and 
Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; "move forward, sir, at once."
    "General," said the commander of the delinquent brigade, "I am 
persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring 
them into collision with the enemy."

VANITY, n.  The tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass.

    They say that hens do cackle loudest when
        There’s nothing vital in the eggs they've laid;
        And there are hens, professing to have made
    A study of mankind, who say that men
    Whose business 'tis to drive the tongue or pen
        Make the most clamorous fanfaronade
        O'er their most worthless work; and I'm afraid
    They're not entirely different from the hen.
    Lo! the drum-major in his coat of gold,
        His blazing breeches and high-towering cap --
    Imperiously pompous, grandly bold,
        Grim, resolute, an awe-inspiring chap!
    Who'd think this gorgeous creature’s only virtue
    Is that in battle he will never hurt you?
                                                     Hannibal Hunsiker

VIRTUES,  Certain abstentions.

VITUPERATION, n.  Saite, as understood by dunces and all such as 
suffer from an impediment in their wit.

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


W (double U) has, of all the letters in our alphabet, the only 
cumbrous name, the names of the others being monosyllabic.  This 
advantage of the Roman alphabet over the Grecian is the more valued 
after audibly spelling out some simple Greek word, like 
_epixoriambikos_.  Still, it is now thought by the learned that other 
agencies than the difference of the two alphabets may have been 
concerned in the decline of "the glory that was Greece" and the rise 
of "the grandeur that was Rome."  There can be no doubt, however, that 
by simplifying the name of W (calling it "wow," for example) our 
civilization could be, if not promoted, at least better endured.

WALL STREET, n.  A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke.  That 
Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every 
unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven.  Even the great and 
good Andrew Carnegie has made his profession of faith in the matter.

    Carnegie the dauntless has uttered his call
    To battle:  "The brokers are parasites all!"
    Carnegie, Carnegie, you'll never prevail;
    Keep the wind of your slogan to belly your sail,
    Go back to your isle of perpetual brume,
    Silence your pibroch, doff tartan and plume:
    Ben Lomond is calling his son from the fray --
    Fly, fly from the region of Wall Street away!
    While still you're possessed of a single baubee
    (I wish it were pledged to endowment of me)
    'Twere wise to retreat from the wars of finance
    Lest its value decline ere your credit advance.
    For a man 'twixt a king of finance and the sea,
    Carnegie, Carnegie, your tongue is too free!
                                                         Anonymus Bink

WAR, n.  A by-product of the arts of peace.  The most menacing 
political condition is a period of international amity.  The student 
of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly 
boast himself inaccessible to the light.  "In time of peace prepare 
for war" has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, 
not merely that all things earthly have an end -- that change is the 
one immutable and eternal law -- but that the soil of peace is thickly 
sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination 
and growth.  It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his "stately pleasure 
dome" -- when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in 
Xanadu -- that he

                        heard from afar
    Ancestral voices prophesying war.

    One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of 
men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable.  Let us 
have a little less of "hands across the sea," and a little more of 
that elemental distrust that is the security of nations.  War loves to 
come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide 
the night.

WASHINGTONIAN, n.  A Potomac tribesman who exchanged the privilege of 
governing himself for the advantage of good government.  In justice to 
him it should be said that he did not want to.

    They took away his vote and gave instead
    The right, when he had earned, to _eat_ his bread.
    In vain -- he clamors for his "boss," pour soul,
    To come again and part him from his roll.
                                                       Offenbach Stutz

WEAKNESSES,  Certain primal powers of Tyrant Woman wherewith she 
holds dominion over the male of her species, binding him to the 
service of her will and paralyzing his rebellious energies.

WEATHER, n.  The climate of the hour.  A permanent topic of 
conversation among persons whom it does not interest, but who have 
inherited the tendency to chatter about it from naked arboreal 
ancestors whom it keenly concerned.  The setting up official weather 
bureaus and their maintenance in mendacity prove that even governments 
are accessible to suasion by the rude forefathers of the jungle.

    Once I dipt into the future far as human eye could see,
    And I saw the Chief Forecaster, dead as any one can be --
    Dead and damned and shut in Hades as a liar from his birth,
    With a record of unreason seldom paralleled on earth.
    While I looked he reared him solemnly, that incadescent youth,
    From the coals that he'd preferred to the advantages of truth.
    He cast his eyes about him and above him; then he wrote
    On a slab of thin asbestos what I venture here to quote --
    For I read it in the rose-light of the everlasting glow:
    "Cloudy; variable winds, with local showers; cooler; snow."
                                                         Halcyon Jones

WEDDING, n.  A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, 
one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become 

WEREWOLF, n.  A wolf that was once, or is sometimes, a man.  All 
werewolves are of evil disposition, having assumed a bestial form to 
gratify a beastial appetite, but some, transformed by sorcery, are as 
humane and is consistent with an acquired taste for human flesh.
    Some Bavarian peasants having caught a wolf one evening, tied it 
to a post by the tail and went to bed.  The next morning nothing was 
there!  Greatly perplexed, they consulted the local priest, who told 
them that their captive was undoubtedly a werewolf and had resumed its 
human for during the night.  "The next time that you take a wolf," the 
good man said, "see that you chain it by the leg, and in the morning 
you will find a Lutheran."

WHANGDEPOOTENAWAH, n.  In the Ojibwa tongue, disaster; an unexpected 
affliction that strikes hard.

    Should you ask me whence this laughter,
    Whence this audible big-smiling,
    With its labial extension,
    With its maxillar distortion
    And its diaphragmic rhythmus
    Like the billowing of an ocean,
    Like the shaking of a carpet,
    I should answer, I should tell you:
    From the great deeps of the spirit,
    From the unplummeted abysmus
    Of the soul this laughter welleth
    As the fountain, the gug-guggle,
    Like the river from the canon [sic],
    To entoken and give warning
    That my present mood is sunny.
    Should you ask me further question --
    Why the great deeps of the spirit,
    Why the unplummeted abysmus
    Of the soule extrudes this laughter,
    This all audible big-smiling,
    I should answer, I should tell you
    With a white heart, tumpitumpy,
    With a true tongue, honest Injun:
    William Bryan, he has Caught It,
    Caught the Whangdepootenawah!

    Is't the sandhill crane, the shankank,
    Standing in the marsh, the kneedeep,
    Standing silent in the kneedeep
    With his wing-tips crossed behind him
    And his neck close-reefed before him,
    With his bill, his william, buried
    In the down upon his bosom,
    With his head retracted inly,
    While his shoulders overlook it?
    Does the sandhill crane, the shankank,
    Shiver grayly in the north wind,
    Wishing he had died when little,
    As the sparrow, the chipchip, does?
    No 'tis not the Shankank standing,
    Standing in the gray and dismal
    Marsh, the gray and dismal kneedeep.
    No, 'tis peerless William Bryan
    Realizing that he’s Caught It,
    Caught the Whangdepootenawah!

WHEAT, n.  A cereal from which a tolerably good whisky can with some 
difficulty be made, and which is used also for bread.  The French are 
said to eat more bread _per capita_ of population than any other 
people, which is natural, for only they know how to make the stuff 

WHITE, adj. and n.  Black.

WIDOW, n.  A pathetic figure that the Christian world has agreed to 
take humorously, although Christ’s tenderness towards widows was one 
of the most marked features of his character.

WINE, n.  Fermented grape-juice known to the Women’s Christian Union 
as "liquor," sometimes as "rum."  Wine, madam, is God’s next best gift 
to man.

WIT, n.  The salt with which the American humorist spoils his 
intellectual cookery by leaving it out.

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.

WITTICISM, n.  A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted, and seldom 
noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a "joke."


        An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a 
    rudimentary susceptibility to domestication.  It is credited by 
    many of the elder zoologists with a certain vestigial docility 
    acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the 
    postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, 
    deny the virtue and declare that such as creation’s dawn beheld, 
    it roareth now.  The species is the most widely distributed of all 
    beasts of prey, infesting all habitable parts of the globe, from 
    Greeland’s spicy mountains to India’s moral strand.  The popular 
    name (wolfman) is incorrect, for the creature is of the cat kind.  
    The woman is lithe and graceful in its movement, especially the 
    American variety (_felis pugnans_), is omnivorous and can be 
    taught not to talk.
                                                       Balthasar Pober

WORMS'-MEAT, n.  The finished product of which we are the raw 
material.  The contents of the Taj Mahal, the Tombeau Napoleon and the 
Granitarium.  Worms'-meat is usually outlasted by the structure that 
houses it, but "this too must pass away."  Probably the silliest work 
in which a human being can engage is construction of a tomb for 
himself.  The solemn purpose cannot dignify, but only accentuates by 
contrast the foreknown futility.

    Ambitious fool! so mad to be a show!
    How profitless the labor you bestow
        Upon a dwelling whose magnificence
    The tenant neither can admire nor know.

    Build deep, build high, build massive as you can,
    The wanton grass-roots will defeat the plan
        By shouldering asunder all the stones
    In what to you would be a moment’s span.

    Time to the dead so all unreckoned flies
    That when your marble is all dust, arise,
        If wakened, stretch your limbs and yawn --
    You'll think you scarcely can have closed your eyes.

    What though of all man’s works your tomb alone
    Should stand till Time himself be overthrown?
        Would it advantage you to dwell therein
    Forever as a stain upon a stone?
                                                             Joel Huck

WORSHIP, n.  Homo Creator’s testimony to the sound construction and 
fine finish of Deus Creatus.  A popular form of abjection, having an 
element of pride.

WRATH, n.  Anger of a superior quality and degree, appropriate to 
exalted characters and momentous occasions; as, "the wrath of God," 
"the day of wrath," etc.  Amongst the ancients the wrath of kings was 
deemed sacred, for it could usually command the agency of some god for 
its fit manifestation, as could also that of a priest.  The Greeks 
before Troy were so harried by Apollo that they jumped out of the 
frying-pan of the wrath of Cryses into the fire of the wrath of 
Achilles, though Agamemnon, the sole offender, was neither fried nor 
roasted.  A similar noted immunity was that of David when he incurred 
the wrath of Yahveh by numbering his people, seventy thousand of whom 
paid the penalty with their lives.  God is now Love, and a director of 
the census performs his work without apprehension of disaster.


X in our alphabet being a needless letter has an added invincibility 
to the attacks of the spelling reformers, and like them, will 
doubtless last as long as the language.  X is the sacred symbol of ten 
dollars, and in such words as Xmas, Xn, etc., stands for Christ, not, 
as is popular supposed, because it represents a cross, but because the 
corresponding letter in the Greek alphabet is the initial of his name 
-- _Xristos_.  If it represented a cross it would stand for St. 
Andrew, who "testified" upon one of that shape.  In the algebra of 
psychology x stands for Woman’s mind.  Words beginning with X are 
Grecian and will not be defined in this standard English dictionary.


YANKEE, n.  In Europe, an American.  In the Northern States of our 
Union, a New Englander.  In the Southern States the word is unknown.  

YEAR, n.  A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

YESTERDAY, n.  The infancy of youth, the youth of manhood, the entire 
past of age.

    But yesterday I should have thought me blest
        To stand high-pinnacled upon the peak
        Of middle life and look adown the bleak
    And unfamiliar foreslope to the West,
    Where solemn shadows all the land invest
        And stilly voices, half-remembered, speak
        Unfinished prophecy, and witch-fires freak
    The haunted twilight of the Dark of Rest.
    Yea, yesterday my soul was all aflame
        To stay the shadow on the dial’s face
    At manhood’s noonmark!  Now, in God His name
        I chide aloud the little interspace
    Disparting me from Certitude, and fain
    Would know the dream and vision ne'er again.
                                                      Baruch Arnegriff

    It is said that in his last illness the poet Arnegriff was 
attended at different times by seven doctors.

YOKE, n.  An implement, madam, to whose Latin name, _jugum_, we owe 
one of the most illuminating words in our language -- a word that 
defines the matrimonial situation with precision, point and poignancy.  
A thousand apologies for withholding it.

YOUTH, n.  The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, 
Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of 
endowing a living Homer.

        Youth is the true Saturnian Reign, the Golden Age on earth 
    again, when figs are grown on thistles, and pigs betailed with 
    whistles and, wearing silken bristles, live ever in clover, and 
    clows fly over, delivering milk at every door, and Justice never 
    is heard to snore, and every assassin is made a ghost and, 
    howling, is cast into Baltimost!
                                                        Polydore Smith


ZANY, n.  A popular character in old Italian plays, who imitated with 
ludicrous incompetence the _buffone_, or clown, and was therefore the 
ape of an ape; for the clown himself imitated the serious characters 
of the play.  The zany was progenitor to the specialist in humor, as 
we to-day have the unhappiness to know him.  In the zany we see an 
example of creation; in the humorist, of transmission.  Another 
excellent specimen of the modern zany is the curate, who apes the 
rector, who apes the bishop, who apes the archbishop, who apes the 

ZANZIBARI, n.  An inhabitant of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, off the 
eastern coast of Africa.  The Zanzibaris, a warlike people, are best 
known in this country through a threatening diplomatic incident that 
occurred a few years ago.  The American consul at the capital occupied 
a dwelling that faced the sea, with a sandy beach between.  Greatly to 
the scandal of this official’s family, and against repeated 
remonstrances of the official himself, the people of the city 
persisted in using the beach for bathing.  One day a woman came down 
to the edge of the water and was stooping to remove her attire (a pair 
of sandals) when the consul, incensed beyond restraint, fired a charge 
of bird-shot into the most conspicuous part of her person.  
Unfortunately for the existing _entente cordiale_ between two great 
nations, she was the Sultana.

ZEAL, n.  A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and 
inexperienced.  A passion that goeth before a sprawl.

    When Zeal sought Gratitude for his reward
    He went away exclaiming:  "O my Lord!"
    "What do you want?" the Lord asked, bending down.
    "An ointment for my cracked and bleeding crown."
                                                            Jum Coople

ZENITH, n.  The point in the heavens directly overhead to a man 
standing or a growing cabbage.  A man in bed or a cabbage in the pot 
is not considered as having a zenith, though from this view of the 
matter there was once a considerably dissent among the learned, some 
holding that the posture of the body was immaterial.  These were 
called Horizontalists, their opponents, Verticalists.  The 
Horizontalist heresy was finally extinguished by Xanobus, the 
philosopher-king of Abara, a zealous Verticalist.  Entering an 
assembly of philosophers who were debating the matter, he cast a 
severed human head at the feet of his opponents and asked them to 
determine its zenith, explaining that its body was hanging by the 
heels outside.  Observing that it was the head of their leader, the 
Horizontalists hastened to profess themselves converted to whatever 
opinion the Crown might be pleased to hold, and Horizontalism took its 
place among _fides defuncti_.

ZEUS, n.  The chief of Grecian gods, adored by the Romans as Jupiter 
and by the modern Americans as God, Gold, Mob and Dog.  Some explorers 
who have touched upon the shores of America, and one who professes to 
have penetrated a considerable distance to the interior, have thought 
that these four names stand for as many distinct deities, but in his 
monumental work on Surviving Faiths, Frumpp insists that the natives 
are monotheists, each having no other god than himself, whom he 
worships under many sacred names.

ZIGZAG, v.t.  To move forward uncertainly, from side to side, as one 
carrying the white man’s burden.  (From _zed_, _z_, and _jag_, an 
Icelandic word of unknown meaning.)

    He zedjagged so uncomen wyde
    Thet non coude pas on eyder syde;
    So, to com saufly thruh, I been
    Constreynet for to doodge betwene.

ZOOLOGY, n.  The science and history of the animal kingdom, including 
its king, the House Fly (_Musca maledicta_).  The father of Zoology 
was Aristotle, as is universally conceded, but the name of its mother 
has not come down to us.  Two of the science’s most illustrious 
expounders were Buffon and Oliver Goldsmith, from both of whom we 
learn (_L'Histoire generale des animaux_ and _A History of Animated 
Nature_) that the domestic cow sheds its horn every two years.


Mick Farmer