Extracts from the cynic's wordbook – Part II – the letter M

~This post is dedicated to my own blog. For being there.~


In my last post I gave you ten of what I thought were the finest ‘Devil’s definitions’ of words in Bierce’s ‘The Devil’s Dictionary.’ Today, I shall outline some more, this time from the letter M. This is arguably the most entertaining of all letters in our English language–at least that which is present in the strange dictionary in question. Read on below:

  1. Madnoun Affected by a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to social standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual.
  2. Malenoun A member of the unconsidered, or negligible, sex. The male of the human race is commonly known (to the female) as Mere Man. The genus has two varieties: good providers and bad providers.
  3. Menoun The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three. Continue reading

Extracts from the cynic's wordbook – Part I – the letter P

~This post is dedicated to my good friend, Raghul Selvam, for failing to dissociate in lofty hours. He is still alive today.~


While Ambroce ‘Bitter’ Bierce himself rather fancied the name ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ to ‘The Cynic’s Wordbook,’ I think the latter is equally good and thus decided to title this post as you now see it! One of the prized collections in my small home-library is an inconspicuous and unassuming little book that hardly catches anyone’s eye, titled–you guessed it–The Devil’s Dictionary. Bierce is perhaps the greatest figure in English satire I have come across and I take some pride in saying Bierce and I were both born on the same day; perhaps that explains the similar tastes!

PWhile many are aware of numerous sources where faux meanings are provided to real words, it is little known that this originated from Bierce’s masterpiece of a satire, The Devil’s Dictionary, a collection of his witty definitions of some of the more common words in the English language that he published over a huge period of time, from 1881 to 1906, in a certain weekly. There have been many–pardon me for saying lower standard–spin-offs of this and they surprisingly continue to this day. And while I have come across few who have actually read this work, I know many who haven’t; and it is for them that I have put down here the ten best definitions from Bierce’s book. In follow-up posts, I shall list some more. This one I have used to cover the letter P. Continue reading

Extracts from the cynic’s wordbook – Part I – the letter P

~This post is dedicated to my good friend, Raghul Selvam, for failing to dissociate in lofty hours. He is still alive today.~


While Ambroce ‘Bitter’ Bierce himself rather fancied the name ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ to ‘The Cynic’s Wordbook,’ I think the latter is equally good and thus decided to title this post as you now see it! One of the prized collections in my small home-library is an inconspicuous and unassuming little book that hardly catches anyone’s eye, titled–you guessed it–The Devil’s Dictionary. Bierce is perhaps the greatest figure in English satire I have come across and I take some pride in saying Bierce and I were both born on the same day; perhaps that explains the similar tastes!

PWhile many are aware of numerous sources where faux meanings are provided to real words, it is little known that this originated from Bierce’s masterpiece of a satire, The Devil’s Dictionary, a collection of his witty definitions of some of the more common words in the English language that he published over a huge period of time, from 1881 to 1906, in a certain weekly. There have been many–pardon me for saying lower standard–spin-offs of this and they surprisingly continue to this day. And while I have come across few who have actually read this work, I know many who haven’t; and it is for them that I have put down here the ten best definitions from Bierce’s book. In follow-up posts, I shall list some more. This one I have used to cover the letter P. Continue reading

Hollywood, tailor-made!

It pleases one to no small limit to see all (or at least most) of his favourite actors, director(s) and screenplaywright(s) working on a common project and coming out with what can only be a masterpiece of a film. This coming year looks like its my turn.

Among my favourite actors are (in no particular order) Al Pacino[The Godfather (trilogy,) Scent of a woman, Scarface, S1m0ne,] Marlon Brando [The Godfather, Julius Caesar, A streetcar named Desire,] Robert DiNiro [The Godfather II, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver,] Johnny Depp [Pirates of the Carribean, Charlie and the chocolate factory, Public enemies, Alice in Wonderland] and Hugh Grant [Four weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, About a boy, Music and Lyrics.] And then my favourite directors are Francis Ford Coppolla [The Godfather,] Martin Scorsese (SKOR-say-zee, many say it wrong!) [Raging bull, Good fellas, Taxi Driver, Shutter Island,] and Stevn Speilberg [Jurrassic Park, Schneider's list.] And not to tire you out, two of my many favourite screen-playwrights are Steven Zaillian [Schindler's list, Mission: Impossible, The Interpreter, American Gangster,] and Eric Roth [Forrest Gump, The Good Shepard, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.]

Now picture this: Robert DiNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci [My cousin Vinny] all starring in a film directed by Martin Scorsese and scripted by Steven Zaillian. Bowled over?

Continue reading

(What appears to be) a very serious treatise on the criminal

The criminal of yesterday is very different from the criminal of today. He walked free like the innocent of today while the criminal of today found himself freely strolling through his prison cell like the innocent man of yesterday. While the police are promptly imprisoning more men to convince the public that they are working, they seem to have overlooked a subtle fact: the unanimously approved rule that it is the guilty who should be imprisoned. Continue reading

Because death never strikes twice—a short story

The first time that I heard the mellifluous notes of the violin waft through the air, I felt a cold chill run down my spine. Nobody was supposed to be around. The real estate man told me the place was uninhabited at least up to a radius of a couple of miles. And violin notes do not travel that far.

I had bought this house ten days ago. Five days ago, I had got a compound wall erected. Today, I know somebody is in there. It cannot be. Nobody can enter the wall. There is just one gate, covered, locked from the inside, and I have the key. Continue reading

It is good the dead grow short

Some religions bury, others prefer to give back to nature with a certain amount of fury: I do not know if they mean to show their anger or they simply like fireworks, but they manage to put in a veil of sorrow–the fortunes they are inheriting apparently forgotten–and shed a few tears and return home. In a few days, they are like none of this had ever been.

But more of it has occurred, especially if we looked at the problem from the eyes of another fellow, party to neither of these, and observe the former. They bury, which means for a long time to come the fact that that person is occupying some part of the Earth–even if only below it–cannot be argued upon. Continue reading