If you haven´t read this book, your life is not complete!
The Devil’s Dictionary is a satirical “reference” book written by Ambrose Bierce. The book offers reinterpretations of terms in the English language, lampooning cant and political doublespeak, as well as other aspects of human foolishness and frailty. It was originally published in 1906 as The Cynic’s Word Book before being retitled in 1911. Modern “unabridged” versions that include Bierce “definitions” that were for various reasons missed by earlier editions continue to be popular a century later. (from Wikipedia)
Some of my favourite definitions from this great dicitionary :-):
Love. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease, like caries and many other ailments, is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.
Friendship. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.
Frying-pan. One part of the penal apparatus employed in that punitive institution, a woman’s kitchen. The frying-pan was invented by Calvin, and by him used in cooking span-long infants that had died without baptism; and observing one day the horrible torment of a tramp who had incautiously pulled a fried babe from the waste-dump and devoured it, it occurred to the great divine to rob death of its terrors by introducing the frying-pan into every household in Geneva. Thence it spread to all corners of the world, and has been of invaluable assistance in the propagation of his sombre faith.
Abnormal. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought and conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to be detested. Wherefore the lexicographer adviseth a striving toward the straiter [sic] resemblance of the Average Man than he hath to himself. Whoso attaineth thereto shall have peace, the prospect of death and the hope of Hell.
Air. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
Passport. A document treacherously inflicted upon a citizen going abroad, exposing him as an alien and pointing him out for special reprobation and outrage.
Beauty. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
Cannibal. A gastronome of the old school who preserves the simple tastes and adheres to the natural diet of the pre-pork period.
Commerce. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.
Scriptures. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.
Wedding. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.
Marriage. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
Kill. To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.
Grave. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.