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A very strange dictionary
on April 7, 2005
skep·tic also scep·tic (skptk)
1.One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally
2.One inclined to skepticism in religious matters.
a.often Skeptic An adherent of a school of skepticism.
b.Skeptic A member of an ancient Greek school of skepticism, especially that of Pyrrho of
Elis (360?-272? B.C.).
[Latin Scepticus, disciple of Pyrrho of Elis, from Greek Skeptikos, from skeptesthai, to examine.
See spek- in Indo-European Roots.]
1.A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
2.A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.
3.Cynic A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only
good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.
[Latin cynicus, Cynic philosopher, from Greek kunikos, from kun, kun-, dog. See kwon- in
Such are the real dictionary definitions of the stance which Ambrose Bierce adopted in considering the world. Beginning in 1881 and continuing to 1906, he created a series of sardonic word definitions of his own. Many of these were collected and published as The Cynic's Word Book, which he later protested was "a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve." So in 1911, he pulled together a collection that was more to his own liking and called it The Devil's Dictionary. The entries are a tad uneven in quality, but most are amusing and some are great. Each reader will have his own favorites, some of mine are as follows :
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 famous.
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.
BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
CONSULT, v.i. To seek another's disapproval of a course already
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.
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.
DISCRIMINATE, v.i. To note the particulars in which one person or thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another.
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
FUTURE, n. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our
friends are true and our happiness is assured.
HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
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.
POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of
principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
And, my choice for the very best among them :
CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
By all means, read it and pick out your own; you're sure to find a few that tickle your fancy.