Famous Quotes By Ambrose Bierce


  1. A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms agains himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it.
  2. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.
  3. 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.
  4. Anoint, v.: To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.
  5. Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
  6. Ardor, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.
  7. Beauty, n: the power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
  8. Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.
  12. 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.
  13. Convent - a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the sin of idleness.
  14. Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.
  15. Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.
  16. Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
  17. Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.
  18. Destiny: A tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Education, n.: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
  23. 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.
  24. Enthusiasm - a distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.
  25. Eulogy. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
  26. Experience - the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
  27. Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.
  28. Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
  29. Famous, adj.: Conspicuously miserable.
  30. Forgetfulness - a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
  31. Friendless. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
  32. Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
  33. Happiness: an agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
  34. History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  35. 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.
  36. Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
  37. Irreligion - the principal one of the great faiths of the world.
  38. It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.
  39. Jealous, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.
  40. 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.
  41. Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
  42. Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
  43. Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
  44. Litigant. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.
  45. Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
  46. Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
  47. Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.
  48. Marriage, n: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
  49. Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
  50. Meekness: Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.
  51. Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
  52. Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.
  53. Painting, n.: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.
  54. Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue.
  55. Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
  56. Perseverance - a lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
  57. Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.
  58. Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
  59. Positive, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one's voice.
  60. Prescription: A physician's guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.
  61. Present, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.
  62. Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
  63. Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.
  64. Sabbath - a weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
  65. Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
  66. Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.
  67. Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  68. Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
  69. The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.
  70. The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.
  71. The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.
  72. The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.
  73. To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.
  74. To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one's voice.
  75. Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
  76. War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.
  77. We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.
  78. 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.
  79. Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is - it is her shadow.
  80. Wit - the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.
  81. Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.

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