“APOLOGIZE, v. To lay the foundation for a future offence.”
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
In 1906, celebrated storyteller, journalist, and sharp-witted cynic Ambrose Bierce published what is now known as The Devil’s Dictionary. The work was compiled over several decades; some of the satirical definitions are of the time, but many are timeless. For instance, "dictionary":
Now, if it were only funny, it wouldn't be worth mentioning; but it's quite a beautiful piece of work and a splendid bit of what we would now call trolling. Of similar character to Mark Twain's dry, dead-pan sarcasm and the wit of The Onion, the work is thoroughly engrossing. Since being introduced to it in middle school, I have spent countless hours perusing its pages, thinking about familiar words in a new way. The way it's meant and the way it's popularly used. Sometimes I forget that Bierce was writing this over a hundred years ago. (I have a feeling Bierce would have been right at home on Twitter and other social media.) A man comically ahead of his time — or are we tragically predictable and slow? I suspect Bierce might say the latter is truer.
Here Is a List of My Favorite Words and Their Meanings:
G - H:
J - L:
N - O:
Q - R:
T - Z:
The tricky part about satire, and why it's perplexing to so many, is because the meaning is in the subtext. It's not humorous lying, nor alternative facts, nor is it the truth, but rather satire, when done right, is ridicule that exposes truth. Like any good recipe for wit, satire is a sprinkle of "you get what you ask for," a dash of face-slap, and a spoonful of humor to help the truth go down. This is what makes humor so effective, it has us put our guards down, which is why humorists, starting from ancient times, saw humor as an important tool for transmitting truth. Because sometimes humor is the only way to transmit truth.