Originally published as The Cynic’s Word Book, Ambrose Bierce’s wickedly satirical “reference book” was retitle The Devil’s Dictionary in 1911.
Here are some choice excerpts from this highly entertaining work:
Conservative (n.) A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. 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. Gas meter (n.) The family liar in the basement. Lawyer (n.) One skilled in circumvention of the law. Marriage (n.) A household consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.