This dictionary is over 100 years old and it is still very current and worth a look. It’s not a normal dictionary and the definitions are often ironic or sarcastic. It will at least make you smile.
Ambrose Bierce was an American journalist and critic born in Ohio in 1842 who died in 1914 during a trip to Mexico. From the dictionary we have chosen some definitions to give you a taste of it. You can download The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, which you can find for little or nothing in ebooks format.
AUSTRALIA, n. A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.
DAY, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. This period is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day improper—the former devoted to sins of business, the latter consecrated to the other sort. These two kinds of social activity overlap.
FEAST, n. A festival. A religious celebration usually signalized by gluttony and drunkenness, frequently in honor of some holy person distinguished for abstemiousness. In the Roman Catholic Church feasts are “movable” and “immovable,” but the celebrants are uniformly immovable until they are full. In their earliest development these entertainments took the form of feasts for the dead; such were held by the Greeks, under the name Nemeseia, by the Aztecs and Peruvians, as in modern times they are popular with the Chinese; though it is believed that the ancient dead, like the modern, were light eaters.
EMOTION, n. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes.
INTERPRETER, n. One who enables two persons of different languages to understand each other by repeating to each what it would have been to the interpreter’s advantage for the other to have said.
ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.
BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
NOSE, n. The extreme outpost of the face. From the circumstance that great conquerors have great noses, Getius, whose writings antedate the age of humor, calls the nose the organ of quell. It has been observed that one’s nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of others, from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.
CHILDHOOD, n. The period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth—two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age.
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.
DANCE, v.i. To leap about to the sound of tittering music, preferably with arms about your neighbor’s wife or daughter. There are many kinds of dances, but all those requiring the participation of the two sexes have two characteristics in common: they are conspicuously innocent, and warmly loved by the vicious.
ABSURDITY, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.
DIE, n. The singular of “dice.” We seldom hear the word, because there is a prohibitory proverb, “Never say die.” At long intervals, however, some one says: “The die is cast,” which is not true, for it is cut.
AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
The historic Kensington pub where Dickens and DH Lawrence used to drink
A traditional pub in South Kensington, famous for being patronised by Charles Dickens (who lived on this street at number 11 for a while) and DH Lawrence.
Even now it is a pub that is often packed with people in the evening and you won’t always find a seat if you don’t eat. If you want to experience the atmosphere of a historic pub but without the crowds, you can do it in the afternoon when you will also find a seat.
The pub also offers food and has a garden for nice days or you could go downstairs where you can find tables to eat in an area not too crowded. To get there you have to find a side door. The menu is typical of a pub, but if you are passing through and want to have traditional fish & chips or a pie with a pint of beer, this is a great place to do it. It is not far from the museums of South Kensington so we are in an area where many tourists will be passing through.
Book Emily Bronte The Complete Poems, Penguin Classics on Love, Loss and Sorrow
A bookshop that sells books for the visually impaired opens in Paris
Two French publishing houses have opened a specialized bookshop in Paris, in the Pantheon area, called the “Librairie des grands caractères”, a way to grant even the visually impaired the luxury of a walk among books. And the sensual pleasure of touching and breathing paper.
Customers are those who suffer from vision-related problems, due to disease or age and we are talking of over a million people in a country like France.
And these books are specialò the paper is made so as not to dazzle, the line spacing is studied, the contrast is never excessive, even and the character is not that of traditional books but an ad hoc one, called Luciole.
One more reason not to abandon reading on paper is, in the case of some totally or partially reversible eye diseases, its important rehabilitative power for sight.
Unfortunately the catalogue of books for visually impaired people is still very limited, it has only about 600 titles.
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