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The Best of the Devil’s Dictionary

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Written by Ambrose Bierce
Edited and introduced by Bart Schneider

Our edition of The Devil’s Dictionary eliminates much of the doggerel and extended commentary contributed by Bierce’s invented poets and scholars. We also prune some of the lexicographer’s more ponderous definitions, resulting in a streamlined edition providing far more bite for the buck.

Bierce’s satirical masterpiece, The Devil’s Dictionary, began as entries in his various San Francisco newspaper columns of the 1870s and 1880s. The definitions were first published in book form as The Cynic’s Word Book in 1908. An expanded version was published in 1911 as The Devil’s Dictionary, a title Bierce much preferred.

Bierce’s work in The Devil’s Dictionary is traditionally linked to classic satirists like Jonathan Swift. But in our time, Bierce, as a provocateur beholden to no one, bears a striking resemblance to Lenny Bruce, a comic arrested in San Francisco (nearly a century after Bierce began knocking out his definitions) for using certain Anglo-Saxon words that cry out for Bierceian definitions.


“Some of the most gorgeous witticisms in the English language.”

— H.L. Mencken

Number of Pages




Release Date

October 2011