The Devil's Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce

Previous Chapter Next Chapter


YANKEE, n. In Europe, an American. In the Northern States of our Union, a New Englander. In the Southern States the word is unknown. (See DAMNYANK.)

YEAR, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

YESTERDAY, n. The infancy of youth, the youth of manhood, the entire past of age.

But yesterday I should have thought me blest
To stand high-pinnacled upon the peak
Of middle life and look adown the bleak
And unfamiliar foreslope to the West,
Where solemn shadows all the land invest
And stilly voices, half-remembered, speak
Unfinished prophecy, and witch-fires freak
The haunted twilight of the Dark of Rest.
Yea, yesterday my soul was all aflame
To stay the shadow on the dial's face
At manhood's noonmark! Now, in God His name
I chide aloud the little interspace
Disparting me from Certitude, and fain
Would know the dream and vision ne'er again.
Baruch Arnegriff

It is said that in his last illness the poet Arnegriff was
attended at different times by seven doctors.

YOKE, n. An implement, madam, to whose Latin name, jugum, we owe one of the most illuminating words in our language -- a word that defines the matrimonial situation with precision, point and poignancy. A thousand apologies for withholding it.

YOUTH, n. The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer:

Youth is the true Saturnian Reign, the Golden Age on earth
again, when figs are grown on thistles, and pigs betailed with
whistles and, wearing silken bristles, live ever in clover, and
clows fly over, delivering milk at every door, and Justice never
is heard to snore, and every assassin is made a ghost and,
howling, is cast into Baltimost!
Polydore Smith


Return to the The Devil's Dictionary Summary Return to the Ambrose Bierce Library

© 2022