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                 The Internet Wiretap 1st Online Edition of
                           THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
                               AMBROSE BIERCE
                Copyright 1911 by Albert and Charles Boni, Inc.
                    A Public Domain Text, Copyright Expired
                            Released April 15 1993
                      Entered by Aloysius of &tSftDotIotE
     _The Devil's Dictionary_ was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was
     continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906.  In that
     year a large part of it was published in covers with the title _The
     Cynic's Word Book_, a name which the author had not the power to
     reject or happiness to approve.  To quote the publishers of the
     present work:
         "This more reverent title had previously been forced upon him by
     the religious scruples of the last newspaper in which a part of the
     work had appeared, with the natural consequence that when it came out
     in covers the country already had been flooded by its imitators with a
     score of 'cynic' books -- _The Cynic's This_, _The Cynic's That_, and
     _The Cynic's t'Other_.  Most of these books were merely stupid, though
     some of them added the distinction of silliness.  Among them, they
     brought the word 'cynic' into disfavor so deep that any book bearing
     it was discredited in advance of publication."
         Meantime, too, some of the enterprising humorists of the country
     had helped themselves to such parts of the work as served their needs,
     and many of its definitions, anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had
     become more or less current in popular speech.  This explanation is
     made, not with any pride of priority in trifles, but in simple denial
     of possible charges of plagiarism, which is no trifle.  In merely
     resuming his own the author hopes to be held guiltless by those to
     whom the work is addressed -- enlightened souls who prefer dry wines
     to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang.
         A conspicuous, and it is hope not unpleasant, feature of the book
     is its abundant illustrative quotations from eminent poets, chief of
     whom is that learned and ingenius cleric, Father Gassalasca Jape,
     S.J., whose lines bear his initials.  To Father Jape's kindly
     encouragement and assistance the author of the prose text is greatly
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