Ambrose Bierce Quotes
Here you may find the best collection of insightful Ambrose Bierce Quotes.
Quote: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
Anoint: To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.
Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.
When you doubt, abstain.
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
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.
Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.
Fidelity – a virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.
Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is – it is her shadow.
Consult: To seek approval for a course of action already decided upon.
Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.
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.
Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.
Present, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.
Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
Education, n.: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.
Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
Litigation: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
Happiness: an agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
Success is the one unpardonable sin against our fellows.
Prescription: A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.
Destiny: A tyrant’s authority for crime and a fool’s excuse for failure.
The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.
Life – a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.
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.
Enthusiasm – a distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.
Litigant. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.
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.
Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited.
Deliberation, n.: The act of examining one’s bread to determine which side it is buttered on.
Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.
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.
Optimism – the doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.
Marriage, n: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
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.
Coward: One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.
Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
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.
The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.
There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.
Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
Wit – the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.
Erudition – dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.
Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends.
Doubt is the father of invention.
Witticism. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a joke.
Historian – a broad-gauge gossip.
Battle, n., A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
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.
Trial. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.
Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me.
Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.
Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.
Genius – to know without having learned; to draw just conclusions from unknown premises; to discern the soul of things.
Amnesty, n. The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.
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.
Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.
Creditor. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.
Famous, adj.: Conspicuously miserable.
Alien – an American sovereign in his probationary state.
Doubt begins only at the last frontiers of what is possible.
War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.
Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.
Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
Meekness: Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.
Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
Laziness. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.
Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue.
Politeness, n: The most acceptable hypocrisy.
Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
Painting, n.: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.
Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.
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.
Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
Jealous, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.
Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.
Abscond – to move in a mysterious way, commonly with the property of another.
Eulogy. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
Genealogy, n. An account of one’s descent from a man who did not particularly care to trace his own.
The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.
The covers of this book are too far apart.
Incompatibility. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination.
A man is known by the company he organizes.
Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.
Ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy and the world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
I never said all Democrats were saloonkeepers. What I said was that all saloonkeepers are Democrats.
Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking.
Backbite. To speak of a man as you find him when he can’t find you.
Bacchus, n.: A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.
Confidante: One entrusted by A with the secrets of B confided to herself by C.
Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
Beauty, n: the power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
Experience – the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
Ardor, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.
Positive, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.
Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
Ambidextrous, adj.: Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.
It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.
To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.
Barometer, n.: An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; the trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.
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.
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.
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.
Sabbath – a weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
An egotist is a person of low taste – more interested in himself than in me.
Perseverance – a lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.
Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think.
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.
All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
Convent – a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the sin of idleness.
Divorce: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.
Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Cynic, n: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
Prejudice – a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.
Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.
We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.
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.
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.
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.
Forgetfulness – a gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
Dog – a kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world’s worship.
Impiety. Your irreverence toward my deity.
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.
Impartial – unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy.
Irreligion – the principal one of the great faiths of the world.
A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
Ambition. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
Rum, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.
Bigot: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.
Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.
Fork: An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth.
Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
Liberty: One of Imagination’s most precious possessions.
Duty – that which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.
Friendless. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.
Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
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