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The Cynic's Word Book

 

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ABASEMENT n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer.
ABATIS n. Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside.
ABDICATION n. An act whereby a sovereign attests his sense of the high temperature of the throne.
Poor Isabella's Dead, whose abdication
Set all tongues wagging in the Spanish nation.
For that performance 'twere unfair to scold her:
She wisely left a throne too hot to hold her.
To History she'll be no royal riddle--
Merely a plain parched pea that jumped the
griddle.

G.J.

ABDOMEN n. The temple of the god Stomach, in whose worship, with sacrificial rights, all true men engage. From women this ancient faith commands but a stammering assent. They sometimes minister at the altar in a half-hearted and ineffective way, but true reverence for the one deity that men really adore they know not. If woman had a free hand in the world's marketing the race would become graminivorous.
ABILITY n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.
 
Old English 'word lottery' pick

Tranquilizing : p. pr. & vb. n. of Tranquillize; a. Alt. of Tranquillizing

 
The Cynic's Word Book by Ambrose Bierce published in 1906 and 1911.
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