Wisdom Lives in Words

Memorable Quotes by Ambrose Bierce

Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
Ambrose Bierce
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Eulogy. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
Ambrose Bierce
Confidante: One entrusted by A with the secrets of B confided to herself by C.
Ambrose Bierce
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.
Ambrose Bierce
Anoint, v.: To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.
Ambrose Bierce
Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
Ambrose Bierce
Meekness: Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.
Ambrose Bierce
Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Ambrose Bierce
Trial. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.
Ambrose Bierce
What is a democrat? One who believes that the republicans have ruined the country. What is a republican? One who believes that the democrats would ruin the country.
Ambrose Bierce
Ambition. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
Ambrose Bierce
Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.
Ambrose Bierce
Famous, adj.: Conspicuously miserable.
Ambrose Bierce
Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.
Ambrose Bierce
Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.
Ambrose Bierce
Deliberation, n.: The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.
Ambrose Bierce
Rum, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.
Ambrose Bierce
Eloquence, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white.
Ambrose Bierce
The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.
Ambrose Bierce
Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
Ambrose Bierce
Consul - in American politics, a person who having failed to secure an office from the people is given one by the Administration on condition that he leave the country.
Ambrose Bierce
Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.
Ambrose Bierce
Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.
Ambrose Bierce
In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
Ambrose Bierce
Duty - that which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.
Ambrose Bierce
Genius - to know without having learned; to draw just conclusions from unknown premises; to discern the soul of things.
Ambrose Bierce
Prescription: A physician's guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.
Ambrose Bierce
Divorce: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.
Ambrose Bierce
Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.
Ambrose Bierce
Present, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.
Ambrose Bierce
Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends.
Ambrose Bierce
Suffrage, noun. Expression of opinion by means of a ballot. The right of suffrage (which is held to be both a privilege and a duty) means, as commonly interpreted, the right to vote for the man of another man's choice, and is highly prized.
Ambrose Bierce
Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
Ambrose Bierce
Irreligion - the principal one of the great faiths of the world.
Ambrose Bierce
Clairvoyant, n.: A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron - namely, that he is a blockhead.
Ambrose Bierce
Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
Ambrose Bierce
Heaven lies about us in our infancy and the world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
Ambrose Bierce
Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
Ambrose Bierce
Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
Ambrose Bierce
Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.
Ambrose Bierce
Immortality: A toy which people cry for, And on their knees apply for, Dispute, contend and lie for, And if allowed Would be right proud Eternally to die for.
Ambrose Bierce
The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.
Ambrose Bierce
It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.
Ambrose Bierce
Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
Ambrose Bierce
Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.
Ambrose Bierce
Amnesty, n. The state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.
Ambrose Bierce
Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
Ambrose Bierce
Genealogy, n. An account of one's descent from a man who did not particularly care to trace his own.
Ambrose Bierce
To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.
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Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
Ambrose Bierce
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
Ambrose Bierce
Insurance - an ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.
Ambrose Bierce
Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
Ambrose Bierce
Coward: One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.
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Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
Ambrose Bierce
A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
Ambrose Bierce
Bacchus, n.: A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.
Ambrose Bierce
When you doubt, abstain.
Ambrose Bierce
Convent - a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the sin of idleness.
Ambrose Bierce
Perseverance - a lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
Ambrose Bierce
Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.
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Impiety. Your irreverence toward my deity.
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Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
Ambrose Bierce
Backbite. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.
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Life - a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.
Ambrose Bierce
Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
Ambrose Bierce
History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
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All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
Ambrose Bierce
Curiosity, n. An objectionable quality of the female mind. The desire to know whether or not a woman is cursed with curiosity is one of the most active and insatiable passions of the masculine soul.
Ambrose Bierce
Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited.
Ambrose Bierce
Dog - a kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship.
Ambrose Bierce
Ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity.
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Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
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Fidelity - a virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.
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Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.
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Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
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Childhood: 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.
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Wit - the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.
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Forgetfulness - a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
Ambrose Bierce
Witticism. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a joke.
Ambrose Bierce
Painting, n.: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.
Ambrose Bierce
Litigation: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
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Enthusiasm - a distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.
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Positive, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one's voice.
Ambrose Bierce
Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.
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Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.
Ambrose Bierce
Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment of the truth.
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Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me.
Ambrose Bierce
Laziness. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.
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What this country needs what every country needs occasionally is a good hard bloody war to revive the vice of patriotism on which its existence as a nation depends.
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Friendless. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
Ambrose Bierce
The covers of this book are too far apart.
Ambrose Bierce
Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
Ambrose Bierce
Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
Ambrose Bierce
Incompatibility. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination.
Ambrose Bierce
Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
Ambrose Bierce
Experience - the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
Ambrose Bierce
We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.
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Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.
Ambrose Bierce
To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one's voice.
Ambrose Bierce
Happiness: an agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
Ambrose Bierce
Doubt begins only at the last frontiers of what is possible.
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Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Ambrose Bierce
Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.
Ambrose Bierce
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
Ambrose Bierce
Education, n.: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
Ambrose Bierce
I never said all Democrats were saloonkeepers. What I said was that all saloonkeepers are Democrats.
Ambrose Bierce
Politeness, n: The most acceptable hypocrisy.
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Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.
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Prejudice - a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
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An egotist is a person of low taste - more interested in himself than in me.
Ambrose Bierce
Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
Ambrose Bierce
Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.
Ambrose Bierce
Alliance - in international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
Ambrose Bierce
Ardor, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.
Ambrose Bierce
Doubt is the father of invention.
Ambrose Bierce
Land: A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure.
Ambrose Bierce
Marriage, n: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
Ambrose Bierce
Optimism - the doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.
Ambrose Bierce
A man is known by the company he organizes.
Ambrose Bierce
Battle, n., A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
Ambrose Bierce
The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.
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Consult: To seek approval for a course of action already decided upon.
Ambrose Bierce
Beauty, n: the power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
Ambrose Bierce
Fork: An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.
Ambrose Bierce
Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; the trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.
Ambrose Bierce
Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
Ambrose Bierce
Litigant. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.
Ambrose Bierce
I believe we shall come to care about people less and less. The more people one knows the easier it becomes to replace them. It's one of the curses of London.
Ambrose Bierce
Abscond - to move in a mysterious way, commonly with the property of another.
Ambrose Bierce
Cynic, n: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
Ambrose Bierce
Barometer, n.: An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
Ambrose Bierce
Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.
Ambrose Bierce
There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.
Ambrose Bierce
Impartial - unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy.
Ambrose Bierce
Erudition - dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.
Ambrose Bierce
Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
Ambrose Bierce
We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.
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Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
Ambrose Bierce
The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.
Ambrose Bierce
War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.
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Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking.
Ambrose Bierce
Destiny: A tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure.
Ambrose Bierce
A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it.
Ambrose Bierce
Sabbath - a weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
Ambrose Bierce
Bigot: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
Ambrose Bierce
Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue.
Ambrose Bierce
Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
Ambrose Bierce
The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.
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Alien - an American sovereign in his probationary state.
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Historian - a broad-gauge gossip.
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Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is - it is her shadow.
Ambrose Bierce
Jealous, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.
Ambrose Bierce
Creditor. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.
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Ambidextrous, adj.: Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.
Ambrose Bierce
Edible - 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.
Ambrose Bierce