PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Another batch of emulations of entries in The Devil’s Dictionary.
This was my main writing exercise last night, when I had a block of time to do a few of them. I like this exercise a lot. It makes me think about what words mean, what they mean in different contexts, and what they don’t mean.
The cynicism of these aside, there’s also generally a pattern to what Bierce did and what I try to do when I write these. Not quite a formula. Anyway.
Feel free to add entries to the comments either below or at this permanent link, where older entries have been placed. Nobody’s taken me up on that, but perhaps offering what nobody wants is the sort of against the grain thinking Bierce might have liked.
achievement A statement of adequacy most notable for prolonging the use of paper.
annexation A means of keeping one’s rivals close.
attraction In the fields of entertainment and matrimony, the power that ultimately results in butts in seats.
bard A singer of the traditional art, compliance.
base The center of man, largely comprised of the digestive organs and resultant substances.
beggar A friend, indeed.
borrower A generous soul who invest in others.
commentator An ass trained to emit the usual sounds at a greater volume.
confidence man A mathematician who teaches other men their value.
essay A thesis in so many words.
graft A most dependable oiler deployed as a support to the flotilla of commerce.
grift The most common transaction in a bull market.
hiccup An echo of swallowed resolve.
homily The dust that comes off when old words are shaken.
innocence In the American justice system, one maintains this until they are proven.
mustache An ingenious device that can be grown by its wearer to catch mucus when the skull becomes full.
proponent The principal heir to a disputed outcome.
reverence A silent demonstration that allows one’s dream to displace another’s sense.
salute A sign of respect shown to the superior officer and an acknowledgement that another is wearing his hat.
sentence At best, a means of doing justice to men and words.
suspicion The most potent spell cast by reason.
theft The highest form of flattery.
versatility The ability to have a hand in multiple pockets.
vote In America, by a certain age, each man or woman is entrusted with multiples of one; sadly, this was not always the case.
wallet Where scruples of varying denominations are corralled.