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Ambrose Bierce's Quotes


  Absurdity, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Barometer, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Happiness, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Un-American, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Success, n. The one unpardonable sin against one's fellows.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Democracy, n. Four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Pray, v. To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  You dont have to be stupid to be a Christian... but it probably helps.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Dawn, n. The time when men of reason go to bed.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Logic, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Genealogy, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Mayonnaise, n. One of the sauces that serve the French in place of a state religion.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Lottery, n. A tax on people who are bad at math.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Belladonna, n. In Italian, a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Electricity, n. The cause of 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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Apologize, v. To lay the foundation for a future offense.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Back, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Virtues, n. pl. Certain abstentions.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Non-combatant, n. A dead Quaker.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  A prejudice is a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Birth, n. The first and direst of all disasters.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Divorce, n. A resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  A lawyer is the larval stage of a politician.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Quotation, n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Selfish, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Justice, n. A commodity which in a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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 nothing.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Positive, adj. Mistaken at the top of one's voice.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Opportunity, n. A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Laughter, n. An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Liberty, n. One of imagination's most precious possessions.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Cannon, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Congratulation, n. The civility of envy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Advice, n. The smallest current coin.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Conservative, n. A statesman enamored of existing evils, as opposed to a Liberal, who wants to replace them with others.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Vote, v. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Insurrection, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  April fool, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Once, adj. Enough.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Twice, adv. Once too often.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Helpmate, n. A wife, or bitter half.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Monday, n. In Christian countries, the day after the baseball game.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Infancy, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, 'Heaven lies about us.' The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Inhumanity, n. One of the signal and characteristic qualities of humanity.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Year, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Accordion, n. An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Opposition, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amok by hamstringing it.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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 so long as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Bride, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Alone, adj. In bad company.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  You are not permitted to kill a woman who has wronged you, but nothing forbids you to reflect that she is growing older every minute. You are avenged 1440 times a day.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Rational, adj. Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Friendless, adj. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Optimist, n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Politeness , n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Hers, pron. His.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Witch, n. (1) An ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Callous, adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Resign, v. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Erudition, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Cabbage, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think we think.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Alone, adj. In bad company.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Lottery, n. A tax on people who are bad at math.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Advice, n. The smallest current coin.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Un-American, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Democracy, n. Four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Conservative, n. A statesman enamored of existing evils, as opposed to a Liberal, who wants to replace them with others.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Happiness, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Politeness , n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Optimist, n. A proponent of the doctrine that black is white.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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 so long as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Lottery, n. A tax on people who are bad at math.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Success, n. The one unpardonable sin against one's fellows.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Resign, v. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Apologize, v. To lay the foundation for a future offense.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  April fool, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Happiness, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Back, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Un-American, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Advice, n. The smallest current coin.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Witch, n. (1) An ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Divorce: A resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Lottery, n. A tax on people who are bad at math.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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

  Congratulation, n. The civility of envy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Laughter, n. An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Pray, v. To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  A lawyer is the larval stage of a politician.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Positive, adj. Mistaken at the top of one's voice.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  A prejudice is a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  You don't have to be stupid to be a Christian... but it probably helps.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Barometer, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  A cat is a soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Age: that period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we no longer have the enterprise to commit.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Land: 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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Famous, adj.: Conspicuously miserable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Acquaintance is a degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor and obscure, and intimate when he is rich and famous.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Famous, adj.: Conspicuously miserable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Forgetfulness - a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Wit - the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Habit is a shackle for the free.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.'  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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 judged by the light that the doer had when he performed it.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Kindness is a brief preface to ten volumes of exaction.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Ambition. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Heaven lies about us in our infancy and the world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  A miracle is 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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Land: 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.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Litigant. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  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 bear.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Life - a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Education, n.: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Convent - a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the sin of idleness.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

  Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.  
 -  Ambrose Bierce
  

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