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Definitions of Life

- A -
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
Ambrose Bierce

ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
Ambrose Bierce

ACTING, n: The most minor of gifts and not a very high class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.
Katherine Hepburn

ADMIRATION, n: Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.
Ambrose Bierce

ARCHITECTURE, n: The art of how to waste space.
Philip Johnson

- B -
BIRTH, n: The first and dirtiest of all disasters.
Ambrose Bierce

BLAMESTORMING, n: A group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
Anon.

BOUNDARY, n: In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another.
Ambrose Bierce

BOY, n: a noise with dirt on it.
Not Your Average Dictionary

BUDGET, n:
(1)An orderly system for living beyond your means.
Anon.
(2)An attempt to live below your yearnings.
Anon.

BUG, n: An aspect of a computer program which exists because the programmer was thinking about Jumbo Jacks or stock options when s/he wrote the program.
Not Your Average Dictionary

BUGS, pl. n: Small living things that small living boys throw on small living girls.
Anonymous

BUREAUCRAT, n:
(1) A person who cuts red tape sideways.
J. McCabe
(2) A politician who has tenure.
Anon.

BUSINESS, n: The art of extracting money from another man's pocket without resorting to violence.
Max Amsterdam

- C -
CABBAGE, n: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.
Ambrose Bierce

CAT, n:
(1) A soft, indestructible automation provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in domestic circles.
Ambrose Bierce
(2) A lapwarmer with a built-in buzzer.
Anon.

CAPITOL, n: the seat of misgovernment.
Ambrose Bierce

CELEBRITY, n: One who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn't know.
H.L. Mencken

CELEBRITY, n: A person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being reognized.
Fred Allen

CENSOR, n: A man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.
Granville Hicks

CHEF, n: Any cook who swears in French.
Anonymous

CHEMICALS, n: Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.
Anonymous

CHRISTIAN, n: One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbors.
Ambrose Bierce

CINEMUCK, n: The combination of popcorn, soda, and melted chocolate which covers the floors of movie theaters.
Anonymous

COMMAND, n: In computer science, a statement presented by a human and accepted by a computer in such a manner as to make the human feel as if he is in control.
Anonymous

COMMERCE, n: 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.
Ambrose Bierce

COMMITTEE, n: A group of the unfit, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary.
Anon.

COMPROMISE, n: An agreement whereby both parties get what neither of them wanted.
Anon.

CONFERENCE, n: A gathering of important people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done.
Fred Allen

CONSCIENCE, n: The inner voice that warns us that someone may be looking.
H.L. Mencken

CONSERVATIVE, n: A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
Ambrose Bierce

CORPORATION, n: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
Ambrose Bierce

COWARD, n: One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.
Ambrose Bierce

CRIMINAL, n: A person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.
Howard Scott

CRITIC, n: One who boasts of being "hard to please" because nobody tries to please him.
Ambrose Bierce

CYNIC, n: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
Ambrose Bierce

- D -
DAY, n: A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
Ambrose Bierce

DELIBERATION, n: The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.
Ambrose Bierce

DEMOCRACY, n: The recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.
E. B. White

DEPRESSION. n: A period during which we have to get along without the things our grandparents never dreamed about.
Anon.

DECISION MAKER. n: The person in your office who was unable to form a task force before the music stopped.
Anon.

DESTINY, n: A tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure.
Ambrose Bierce

DIET, n: The penalty for exceeding the feed limit.
Anon.

DIPLOMACY, n: The art of saying 'nice doggie' till you can find a rock.
Wynn Catlin

- E -
ECONOMIST, n: A man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.
Alfred A. Knopf

EDITOR, n: A person employed on a newspaper whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.
Elbert Hubbard

ELBONICS, n:The art of maneuvering for the center armrest in a theater or airplane.

ETIQUETTE, n: The little things you do that you don't want to do.
Anonymous

EXECUTIVE, n: A man who talks to the visitors while others are doing the work.
Anon.

EXPERIENCE, n: What causes a person to make new mistakes instead of the same old ones.
Anonymous

EXPERT, n:
(1) An ordinary man away from home giving advice.
Oscar Wilde
(2) Someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
Nicholas Murray Butler
(3) An expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what's really going on to be scared.
P.J. Plauger
(4) An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.
Niels Bohr
(5) A person who is never in doubt but often in error.
Anon.

- F -
FAIRY TALE, n: a horror story to prepare children for the newspapers.

FAKIR, n: a psychologist whose charismatic data have inspired almost religious devotion in his followers, even though the sources seem to have shinnied up a rope and vanished.

FAMOUS, adj: Conspicuously miserable.
Ambrose Bierce

FIDELITY, n: A virtue particular to those about to be betrayed.
Ambrose Bierce

FOG LAMPS, n: obnoxiously bright lamps mounted on the fronts of automobiles; used on dry, clear nights to indicate that the driver's brain is in a fog.

FUTURE, n: That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true, and our happiness is assured.
Ambrose Bierce

FURBLING, v: Having to wander through a maze of ropes at an airport or bank, even when you are the only person in line.
Rich Hall

- G -
GOLF, n:
(1) A futile endeavor to place an insignificant white ball into an obscure little hole, using weapons entirely ill-suited to the task.
(2)A sport wherein one balances a ball an inch-and-a-quarter in diameter on a ball 8,000 miles in diameter, and then tries to hit the small one.

- H -
HANGOVER, n: A self-inflicted wound.
Anonymous

HOPE, n: The feeling you have that the feeling you have isn't permanent.
Jean Kerr

HORSE SENSE, n: Stable thinking.
Anonymous

HOSPITAL BED, n: A taxi parked with the meter running.
Anonymous

- I -
IDIOT, n: A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
Ambrose Bierce

- J -
JOURNALIST, n: A professional whose job it is to explain to others what it personally does not understand.
Lord Northcliffe

JUDGE, n: A law student who marks his own papers.
H.L. Mencken

- K -
KISS, n: A course of procedure, cunningly devised, for the mutual stoppage of conversation when words are superfluous.
Oliver Herford

- L -
LABOR, n: One of the processes by which A acquires property for B.
Ambrose Bierce

LIBERAL, n: A conservative that has been smugged by reality.
Anonymous

LITIGATION, n: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
Ambrose Bierce

- M -
MARRIAGE, n: An institution which is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the minimum of opportunity.
George Bernard Shaw

MEETING, n: An assembly of people coming together to decide what person or group not represented in the room must solve a problem.
Anonymous

MIDDLE AGE, n:
(1)When your age starts to show around your middleThe art of raising eyebrows instead of the roof.
Anonymous
(2)That time of life when you'd rather not have a good time than recover from it.
Fletcher Henderson

- N -
NATION, n: A society united by its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbors.
W.R. Inge

- O -
OPPORTUNIST, n: One who goes ahead and does what you always planned to do.
Anon.

OPTIMISM, n: The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with the grin that apes a smile. Being a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof -- an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.
Ambrose Bierce

ORATORY, n: The art of making deeo noises from the chest sound like important messages from the brain.
Anon.

- P -
PAIN, n: An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely mental, caused by the good fortune of another.
Ambrose Bierce

PAINTING, n: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.
Ambrose Bierce

PATRON, n: A customer who doesn't ask prices.
Anon.

PEDESTRIAN, n: Someone who thought there were a couple of gallons left in the tank.
Anonymous

PHILANTHROPIST, n:
(1) A rich (and usually bald) old gentleman who has trained himself to grin while his conscience is picking his pocket.
Ambrose Bierce
(2) One who gives away what he should give back.
Anon.

PHILOSOPHY, n: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
Ambrose Bierce

PLATITUDE, n: An idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.
H.L. Mencken

POISE, n: The art of raising eyebrows instead of the roof.
Anonymous

PROFESSOR, n:
(1) A person whose job is to tell students how to solve the problems of life he avoided by becoming a professor.
Anonymous
(2) One who talks in someone elses sleep.
W.H. Auden

PROPAGANDA, n: Baloney disguised as food for thought.
Cincinnati Inquirer

PURITANISM, n: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
H. L. Mencken

- Q -
QUOTATION, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
Ambrose Bierce

- R -
RESPONSIBILITY, n: A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.
Ambrose Bierce

ROCK 'N' ROLL, n: Monotony tinged with hysteria.
Vance Packard

RETRACTION, n: The revision of an insult to give it wider circulation.
Anonymous

- S -
SCIENCE, n:An orderly arrangement of what at the moment appear to be facts.
Anonymous

SEX, n: The most fun you can have without laughing.
Anonymous, from Webster's Unafraid Dictionary

SPOUSE, n: Someone who'll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn't have had if you'd stayed single.
Anonymous

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS, n: Mysterious, sometimes bizarre, manipulations performed upon the collected data of an experiment in order to obscure the fact that the results have no generalizable meaning for humanity. Commonly, computers are used, lending an additional aura of unreality to the proceedings.
Anonymous

STATISTICIAN, n: A person who can draw a mathematically precise line from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion.
Anon.

SWEATER, n: Garment worn by child when it's mother is feeling chilly.
Ambrose Bierce

- T -
TACT, n: The art of saying nothing when there is nothing to say.
Anonymous

TRUTH, n: An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing with increasing activity to the end of time.
Ambrose Bierce

- U -
URBAN COWBOY, n: One who is typically all hat and no cow.
Anon.

USER, n: The word computer professionals use when they mean "idiot."
Dave Barry

- V -
VACATION, n: Time off to remind employees that the business can get along without them.
Anon.

VIRUS, n: A Latin medical term meaning, 'your guess is as good as mine.'
Anon.

- W -
WAR, n: A by-product of the arts of peace...
Ambrose Bierce

- Z -
ZEAL, n: A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced.
Ambrose Bierce
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