The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce


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.

Ambrose Bierce

Bierce, Ambrose Gwinett (1842-1914?)

Ambrose Bierce, born in Ohio, fought for the North in the Civil War and was seriously wounded.

In 1866, Bierce settled in San Francisco, where he became a journalist. In 1897 he moved to Washington, D.C., to become a columnist for the chain of newspapers published by William Randolph Hearst.

From 1881 to 1906, he wrote hundreds of satirical word definitions for a newspaper column. Many of these definitions were collected in The Cynic's Word Book (1906), later published as The Devil's Dictionary.

Bierce disappeared while on a trip to Mexico. The circumstances of his death remain unknown.