Ambrose Bierce Quotations

Ambrose Bierce

A Christian is one who believes the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.

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 the object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous.

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

ADORE, v. To venerate expectantly.

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

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

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

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

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.

Calamities are of two kinds. Misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

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 blockhead.

Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

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

CUSTARD, n. A detestable substance produced by malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow, and the cook.

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.

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

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.

Here's to woman! Would that we could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.

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, only one quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is ful of surprises.

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

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

In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.

It has been observed that one's nose is never so happy as when it is thrust into the affairs of another, from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.

Knowledge is the small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

Peace, in international affairs, is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

Philosophy: a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

POLITICS, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

PRESENT, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.

QUOTATION, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

REVOLUTION, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.

The covers of this book are too far apart.

The fact that boys are allowed to exist at all is evidence of a remarkable Christian forbearance among men.

The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.

There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.

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

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 fourteen hundred and forty times a day.