October 10, 2004

The Devil's Dictionary

Three of my favorite definitions in The Devil's Dictionary were queen, marriage, and wedding....

According to The Devil's Dictionary , queen means: A woman by whom the realm is ruled when there is a king, and through whom it is ruled when there is not; marriage means: The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two; and wedding means: A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable. These three definitions caught my eye because they made me laugh. The Devil's Dictionary takes a cynical, satirical slant on most words it defines. The aforementioned three words, are actually true to life, for me - therefore, I did smirk at those. The other words defined fit for the period of the work.

Our discussion in class, after Amanda Cochran's presentation, really got me to think about why the this dictionary was written. I don't think it was to directly ridicule any one sect. I do believe it was to be used to encourage thoughtfulness about the world around its readers and to evoke more humane treatment to all sects. It isn't naming good or bad, it is just pointing out the accepted beliefs of the society within it was published. The reader who picks it up and starts to dismantle it, should be held responsible for his own accord and what he does with the work. I might not see women or religion in the dictionary was others might see those topics. A very good point was brought up in class today: the format of this work is a dictionary. It wasn't meant to be read as we read it, or was it? By no means is this a conventional tool as we are used to using; it was published in little microbursts and eventually set free in Bierce's Volume 7 (thanks, Amanda). Clearly, readers were to read it wholly. So do the words relate to one another? Well, that my dear friends, is all open to interpretation.

I struggled to finish this. Perhaps because this work is a dictionary, and has no plot, that might be why it was so hard to read. Did anyone else find themselves nodding off on certain parts of the 156 page print? Granted, it was a humorous work, it is one I do not look forward to rereading anytime in the near future because of its format.

Posted by KatieAikins at October 10, 2004 6:48 PM


It was hard for me to read this dictionary. I read from A to C, and then I had to quit. It was too much. Also, I didn't print out the entire thing, because I don't want to kill a tree. Some of the words were interesting to read though. It was funny and entertaining, but exhausting after awhile. I like the words that you have picked out. Queen, marriage, and wedding. It's very royal and elegant.


Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 11, 2004 7:36 PM


I strive for elegance everyday.

What year are you?

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 11, 2004 7:41 PM


I am a senior and very exciting about graduation! :) P.S. My blog is up right now, if you could comment on it, then that would be great.



Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 11, 2004 7:52 PM

Nabila, I am with you! I got a little past "L" then perused the rest. Some of it is humorous, but I think it would be better digested slowly, as it was when originally published in installments in the newspaper. I think I would have enjoyed it then. I did have a few favorites that I will mention in my blog. Linda

Posted by: Linda Fondrk at October 12, 2004 10:33 AM

Yea. I didn't get past half way through B. I just could not bring myself to read every single word in a 138 page print out of a dictionary, be it funny or not.

As a side note: I'm sorry but I don't remember where I got the countdown from. I'm going to try and ask the friend that gave me the link if her remembers.


Posted by: Tiffany at October 14, 2004 1:11 PM