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Devil's Dictionary: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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MONARCH, n. A person engaged in reigning. Formerly the monarch ruled, as the derivation of the word attests, and as many subjects have had occasion to learn. In Russia and the Orient the monarch has still a considerable influence in public affairs and in the disposition of the human head, but in western Europe political administration is mostly entrusted to his ministers, he being somewhat preoccupied with reflections relating to the status of his own head.

MONARCHICAL GOVERNMENT, n. Government.

MONDAY, n. In Christian countries, the day after the baseball game.

MONEY, n. A blessing that is of no advantage to us excepting when we part with it. An evidence of culture and a passport to polite society. Supportable property.

MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.

MONOSYLLABIC, adj. Composed of words of one syllable, for literary babes who never tire of testifying their delight in the vapid compound by appropriate googoogling. The words are commonly Saxon – that is to say, words of a barbarous people destitute of ideas and incapable of any but the most elementary sentiments and emotions.

The man who writes in Saxon
Is the man to use an ax on

Judibras

MONSIGNOR, n. A high ecclesiastical title, of which the Founder of our religion overlooked the advantages.

MONUMENT, n. A structure intended to commemorate something which either needs no commemoration or cannot be commemorated.

The bones of Agammemnon are a show,
And ruined is his royal monument,

but Agamemnon's fame suffers no diminution in consequence. The monument custom has its reductiones ad absurdum in monuments "to the unknown dead" – that is to say, monuments to perpetuate the memory of those who have left no memory.

MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.

It is sayd there be a raunge of mountaynes in the Easte, on one syde of the which certayn conducts are immorall, yet on the other syde they are holden in good esteeme; wherebye the mountayneer is much conveenyenced, for it is given to him to goe downe eyther way and act as it shall suite his moode, withouten offence.

Gooke's Meditations

MORE, adj. The comparative degree of too much.

MOUSE, n. An animal which strews its path with fainting women. As in Rome Christians were thrown to the lions, so centuries earlier in Otumwee, the most ancient and famous city of the world, female heretics were thrown to the mice. Jakak-Zotp, the historian, the only Otumwump whose writings have descended to us, says that these martyrs met their death with little dignity and much exertion. He even attempts to exculpate the mice (such is the malice of bigotry) by declaring that the unfortunate women perished, some from exhaustion, some of broken necks from falling over their own feet, and some from lack of restoratives. The mice, he avers, enjoyed the pleasures of the chase with composure. But if "Roman history is nine-tenths lying," we can hardly expect a smaller proportion of that rhetorical figure in the annals of a people capable of so incredible cruelty to a lovely women; for a hard heart has a false tongue.

MOUSQUETAIRE, n. A long glove covering a part of the arm. Worn in New Jersey. But "mousquetaire" is a mighty poor way to spell muskeeter.

MOUTH, n. In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart.

MUGWUMP, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt.

MULATTO, n. A child of two races, ashamed of both.

MULTITUDE, n. A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue. In a republic, the object of the statesman's adoration. "In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom," saith the proverb. If many men of equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting together. Whence comes it? Obviously from nowhere – as well say that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains composing it. A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.

MUMMY, n. An ancient Egyptian, formerly in universal use among modern civilized nations as medicine, and now engaged in supplying art with an excellent pigment. He is handy, too, in museums in gratifying the vulgar curiosity that serves to distinguish man from the lower animals.

By means of the Mummy, mankind, it is said,
Attests to the gods its respect for the dead.
We plunder his tomb, be he sinner or saint,
Distil him for physic and grind him for paint,
Exhibit for money his poor, shrunken frame,
And with levity flock to the scene of the shame.
O, tell me, ye gods, for the use of my rhyme:
For respecting the dead what's the limit of time?

Scopas Brune

MUSTANG, n. An indocile horse of the western plains. In English society, the American wife of an English nobleman.

MYRMIDON, n. A follower of Achilles – particularly when he didn't lead.

MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.


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The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, online at Fun-With-Words.com.

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