Ambrose Bierce Quotes

 

Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.

Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.

— Ambrose Bierce

War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.

— Ambrose Bierce

Divorce: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.

— Ambrose Bierce

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.

— Ambrose Bierce

Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

— Ambrose Bierce

Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me.

— Ambrose Bierce

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.

— Ambrose Bierce

Laziness. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.

— 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

Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.

— Ambrose Bierce

When you doubt, abstain.

— Ambrose Bierce

Bigot: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

— Ambrose Bierce

Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

— Ambrose Bierce

Beauty, n: the power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.

— 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

Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

— 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

Coward: One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.

— 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

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.

— Ambrose Bierce

Bacchus, n.: A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.

— Ambrose Bierce

Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.

— Ambrose Bierce

Eulogy. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.

— Ambrose Bierce

Dog – a kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world’s worship.

— Ambrose Bierce

Life – a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.

— Ambrose Bierce

The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.

— Ambrose Bierce

Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is – it is her shadow.

— Ambrose Bierce

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

— Ambrose Bierce

Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited.

— 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

Jealous, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.

— Ambrose Bierce

Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.

— Ambrose Bierce

Destiny: A tyrant’s authority for crime and a fool’s excuse for failure.

— Ambrose Bierce

Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.

— Ambrose Bierce

Perseverance – a lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.

— Ambrose Bierce

Meekness: Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.

— Ambrose Bierce

Forgetfulness – a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.

— Ambrose Bierce

Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

— Ambrose Bierce

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

— Ambrose Bierce

Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.

— Ambrose Bierce

Present, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.

— Ambrose Bierce

Amnesty, n. The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.

— Ambrose Bierce

Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.

— Ambrose Bierce

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.

— Ambrose Bierce

Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.

— Ambrose Bierce

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

To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.

— 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

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.

— Ambrose Bierce

Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

— Ambrose Bierce

Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue.

— Ambrose Bierce

Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.

— Ambrose Bierce

Prescription: A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.

— 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

The covers of this book are too far apart.

— Ambrose Bierce

Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.

— Ambrose Bierce

Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.

— Ambrose Bierce

Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.

— Ambrose Bierce

Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.

— Ambrose Bierce

Happiness: an agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.

— Ambrose Bierce

Liberty: One of Imagination’s most precious possessions.

— Ambrose Bierce

Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.

— Ambrose Bierce

Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.

— 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

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

Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

— Ambrose Bierce

Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.

— 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

Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.

— Ambrose Bierce

Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.

— 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.

— Ambrose Bierce

Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.

— Ambrose Bierce

Fork: An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.

— Ambrose Bierce

Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

— Ambrose Bierce

History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.

— Ambrose Bierce

Ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity.

— Ambrose Bierce

I never said all Democrats were saloonkeepers. What I said was that all saloonkeepers are Democrats.

— Ambrose Bierce

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.

— Ambrose Bierce

It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.

— Ambrose Bierce

Doubt begins only at the last frontiers of what is possible.

— Ambrose Bierce

Doubt is the father of invention.

— 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

Litigation: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

— Ambrose Bierce

Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends.

— 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

The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.

— Ambrose Bierce

We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.

— Ambrose Bierce

The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.

— Ambrose Bierce

There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.

— Ambrose Bierce

Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

— Ambrose Bierce

Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.

— Ambrose Bierce

Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.

— Ambrose Bierce

Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

— Ambrose Bierce

An egotist is a person of low taste – more interested in himself than in me.

— Ambrose Bierce

Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

— Ambrose Bierce

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

— Ambrose Bierce

To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

— Ambrose Bierce

A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.

— Ambrose Bierce

Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.

— Ambrose Bierce

Ambidextrous, adj.: Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.

— Ambrose Bierce

Anoint, v.: To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.

— 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

Deliberation, n.: The act of examining one’s bread to determine which side it is buttered on.

— Ambrose Bierce

Education, n.: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.

— Ambrose Bierce

Famous, adj.: Conspicuously miserable.

— Ambrose Bierce

Politeness, n: The most acceptable hypocrisy.

— Ambrose Bierce

Positive, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

— Ambrose Bierce

Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; the trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.

— Ambrose Bierce

Confidante: One entrusted by A with the secrets of B confided to herself by C.

— Ambrose Bierce

Genealogy, n. An account of one’s descent from a man who did not particularly care to trace his own.

— Ambrose Bierce

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.

— Ambrose Bierce

Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

— Ambrose Bierce

Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.

— Ambrose Bierce

Ardor, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.

— 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.

— Ambrose Bierce

Barometer, n.: An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.

— Ambrose Bierce

Battle, n., A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.

— Ambrose Bierce

The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.

— Ambrose Bierce

Rum, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.

— Ambrose Bierce

Genius – to know without having learned; to draw just conclusions from unknown premises; to discern the soul of things.

— Ambrose Bierce

Consult: To seek approval for a course of action already decided upon.

— Ambrose Bierce

Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking.

— Ambrose Bierce

Trial. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.

— Ambrose Bierce

Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.

— Ambrose Bierce

Friendless. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.

— Ambrose Bierce

Backbite. To speak of a man as you find him when he can’t find you.

— 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

Creditor. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.

— Ambrose Bierce

Witticism. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a joke.

— Ambrose Bierce

Incompatibility. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination.

— Ambrose Bierce

Litigant. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.

— 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

Impiety. Your irreverence toward my deity.

— Ambrose Bierce

Alien – an American sovereign in his probationary state.

— Ambrose Bierce

Historian – a broad-gauge gossip.

— 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

A man is known by the company he organizes.

— Ambrose Bierce

Duty – that which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.

— Ambrose Bierce

Abscond – to move in a mysterious way, commonly with the property of another.

— Ambrose Bierce

Prejudice – a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.

— Ambrose Bierce

Irreligion – the principal one of the great faiths of the world.

— Ambrose Bierce

Fidelity – a virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.

— 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

Experience – the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.

— 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

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

Optimism – the doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.

— 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

Convent – a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the sin of idleness.

— Ambrose Bierce

Enthusiasm – a distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.

— Ambrose Bierce

Impartial – unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy.

— Ambrose Bierce

Wit – the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.

— Ambrose Bierce

Heaven lies about us in our infancy and the world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.

— Ambrose Bierce

Erudition – dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

— 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

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