Thursday, June 30, 2005


Drowsy, adj. Profoundly affected by a play adapted from the French.

2005 Update: One of the seven styles of driving, the others being drunk, outraged, on-the phone, goofy, dopey and doc.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

NEW! Special Guest Wednesdays

Announcing the premiere of Special Guest Wednesdays

Starting today, every Wednesday Waking Ambrose will feature a definition from a Special Guest. The plan is below, but first...

Superstar Lexicogramibob...Pansi from The Pansifiles Yay!


Thingy, n. Like, one stuff. You know?

...and...some lady named Weirsdo who knows Pansi and updated Gymnast! Huzzah!

Gymnast, n. A man who puts his brains into his muscles. The word is from the Greek gumnos, naked, all the athletic exercises of the Greeks being performed in that shocking condition; but the members of the Olympic Club make a compromise between the requirements of the climate and those of the ladies who attend their exhibitions. They wear there pajamas.

2005 Update:A person of any gender who attempts to translate the human form into rubber for the benefit of corporate sponsors. --Wiersdo

Gymnast, Weirsdo

How to be a Superstar guest Lexicogramibob: You don't have to be as beautiful and smart and wise and easy as Pansi or as well-connected as Wiersdo. Just leave a comment any Wednesday saying you're in or send an email to the link in my profile. In the latter case, because I may not recognize your email put something in the header so I don't mistake you for a spammer. "Special Guest Definition Aspirant" or "C1al1s 4 cheep," for instance.

Every week I'll choose someone from the list and send them a word not in The Devil's Dictionary to define for posting the following Wednesday. The only rules are no profanity and keep your definition a reasonable length. Please also send a link so I can put a picture of or representing you with your definition. One special guest per week.

By the way, thanks to everyone who helped me wish my dad a happy birthday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Brute, n. See Husband.

2005 Update: A willful cuss, avaricious and insensitive, despised in proportion to his pleasure. The term is typically applied to males and usually the one with the remote.

Brute, Steve Pascover

Happy Birthday, Pop, and several happy returns.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime.

2005 Update: A constitutional guarantee that all imprisoned persons have access to an open court in which to question their detainments provided they ask in Latin.

Suggested Reading: Federal Habeas Corpus: cases and materials, by Andrea Lyon, Emily Hughes, Mary Prosser; Carolina Academic Press, 2005.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Filial, adj. In such a manner as to placate the parental purse.

2005 Update: In a concentration of love, hate, scorn, frustration, impatience, envy, admiration, expectation, condescension, confidence, exaltation, mistrust, misunderstanding, disappointment, disdain and dyspepsia superior to fraternal and inferior to parental.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Happy 163th Birthday to Ambrose Bierce. You haven't aged a day in 90 years. A skeptic then, I wish you could get a load of now.

Freethinker, n. A miscreant who wickedly refuses to look out of a Priest's eyes and persists in looking into them with too searching a glance. Freethinkers were formerly shot, burned, boiled, racked, flogged, cropped, drowned, hanged, disemboweled, impaled, beheaded, skinned.

With the lapse of time our holy religion has fallen into the hands of merciful and humane expounders, and the poor Freethinker's punishment is entrusted to Him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." Here on earth the misguided culprit is only threatened, pursued, reviled, avoided, silenced, cursed, insulted, robbed, cheated, harassed, derided, slandered.

2005 Update: A maverick who, having navigated an unmarked path by constellations they name themselves, driven forward by independent will and fierce curiousity, comes finally to the party line. A Valedictorian reading "The Road Less Traveled" to the assembly.

Lucinda, thanks for the alert.

Tom, thanks for the help baking.

Don Swaim at The Ambrose Bierce Site made yellow cake.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Eucharist, n. A sacred feast of the religious sect of Theophagi.
A dispute once unhappily arose among the members of this sect as to what it was that they ate. In this controversy some five hundred thousand have already been slain, and the question is still unsettled.

2005 Update: A ritual that remembers Jesus' broken body and shed blood to many who forget his golden rule.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Auctioneer, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.

2005 Update: A facilitator of commerce between a scoundrel and an optimist. Practically a cabinet position.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Calliope, n. One of the nine Muses, who has had a narrow escape from the dread immortality of having a steam whistle named in her honor. Happily the name is popularly so mispronounced as to defeat the malevolent intent.

2005 Update: The soundtrack to the merry-go-round and perdition.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Corsair, n. A politician of the seas.

2005 Update: Every major carrier's secret name.

Touched by a Weirsdo

Weirsdo tagged me for a meme, an honor I've avoided until now. I want a kiss from Pansi for doing this. Please no-one feel obligated to follow, I'm only doing it to prove my love for a plastic doll.

What 5 Things do you miss about your childhood?

Micronauts, n. pl. Metal toys with interchangeable parts replaced by electronic toys with interchangeable players.
Misogyny, n. The crescendo of a male's happiness when he can live without 'em. Act I.
Baseball, n. The national pastime of an overscheduled people.
Chuck, v. To throw in the unique manner of a child, at once idly and with malice, before reason's onset prohibits such contradictions.
Innocence, n. A vice of which children are falsely accused.
Rules: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect: 1. Searchin' for a Rainbow; 2. Aint it Amazing? 3. Spit Noodle & Joey 4. The Pansi Files. 5. Waking Ambrose

Next select new friends to tag: 1. Pia; 2.Sar,; 3. Marwa; 4. Karma; 5. Prying1
No one is obligated to play.

"Friends don't let friends meme"

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Honorable, adj. Holding or having held a certain office in the public service-- a title of courtesy, as "the Honorable Snatchgobble Bilque, Member of Congress." In legislative bodies it is used to call all the members honorable, as "The honorable gentleman is a scurvy cur."

2005 Update: Scrupulous in denouncing only the most plausible sins of one's opponents and friends. Having a clean and crisply ironed sleeve in which to house an Ace.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Lexicographer, n. A pestilent fellow who, under the pretense of recording some particular stage in the development of a language, does what he can to arrest its growth, stiffen its flexibility and mechanize its methods. For your lexicographer, having written his dictionary, comes to be considered "as one having authority," whereas his function is only to make a record, not to give a law. The natural servility of the human understanding having invested him with judicial power, surrenders its right of reason and submits itself to a chronicle as if it were a statue. Let the dictionary (for example) mark a good word as "obsolete" or "obsolescent" and few men thereafter venture to use it, whatever their need of it and however desirable its restoration to favor -- whereby the process of improverishment is accelerated and speech decays. On the contrary, recognizing the truth that language must grow by innovation if it grow at all, makes new words and uses the old in an unfamiliar sense, has no following and is tartly reminded that "it isn't in the dictionary" -- although down to the time of the first lexicographer (Heaven forgive him!) no author ever had used a word that was in the dictionary. In the golden prime and high noon of English speech; when from the lips of the great Elizabethans fell words that made their own meaning and carried it in their very sound; when a Shakespeare and a Bacon were possible, and the language now rapidly perishing at one end and slowly renewed at the other was in vigorous growth and hardy preservation -- sweeter than honey and stronger than a lion -- the lexicographer was a person unknown, the dictionary a creation which his Creator had not created him to create.
God said: "Let Spirit perish into Form,"
And lexicographers arose, a swarm!
Thought fled and left her clothing, which they took,
And catalogued each garment in a book.
Now, from her leafy covert when she cries:
"Give me my clothes and I'll return," they rise
And scan the list, and say without compassion:
"Excuse us -- they are mostly out of fashion."

-----Sigismund Smith

2005 Update: Someone to whom words are a sentence.

Lexicographer, Ambrose Bierce

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Righteousness, n. A sturdy virtue that was once found among the Pantidoodles inhabiting the lower part of the peninsula of Oque. Some feeble attempts were made by returned missionaries to introduce it into several European countries, but it appears to have been imperfectly expounded.

2005 Update: The self-portrait of prurience.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Foe, n. A person instigated by his wicked nature to deny one's merits or exhibit superior merits of his own.

2005 Update: To a fool a friend, to a politician a fiction and to the clever among us themself. The nearest companion.


Sar, your mission today is to find the natural foe of the French.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


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

2005 Update: A civil process for correcting injustice by adding to its scope and reliability.

Litigation, from The Oxbow Incident, 1943
Good dog, Icy!

Monday, June 13, 2005


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

2005 Update: See Citizen.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Medicine, n. A stone flung down the Bowery to kill a dog in Broadway.

2005 Update: Law, as practiced in a white coat.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Expediency, n. The father of all the virtues.

2005 Update: The motive guiding our detours and distractions.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

From the highlight reel

Generous was one of the first words to appear on this site, but needs to be recalled and applied to my friend Michael K. Willis. Michael was kind enough to review this site on one of his excellent blogs. For a long time, I've had a link up to his site which I use as an antidote for the caustic, cynical writing so often found in my comments section. (Of course I'm kidding.) Michael is a great writer who mixes serialized short stories, interactive posts and autobiographical vignettes on his Bread and Roses site. On his Neverending Rainbow site he offers sophisticated reviews of cultural offerings that a dirt-eater like me will nonetheless find interesting.

I chose the word generous to salute Michael because its the only word to characterize his writing. Not every story, whether autobiographical or fiction ends well for the characters, but you sure wish well for all the characters. The sympathy and optimism that Michael brings to his writing is rare and whats-her-name was a fool, buddy. He promises cynicism in his profile which I'm still waiting for.


Peace, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

2005 Update: The stated purpose of every martial leader as weight loss is the purpose of every customer at Denny's, prosperity of the gambler and education that of this writer. Purpose should, perhaps, be the word redefined but by a superior lexicographer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


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

He loved her with an ardor--
Such a hot one,
That her father had to guard her
With a shotgun

-- Ovid

2005 Update: A love so sublime and overpowering that one will pay any membership fee, click any link and abbreviate even the shortest of words to prove its valor.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Horse, n. The founder and conservator of civilization.

2005 Update: The hostage negotiator of the open range. Successor to the dove as the paragon of modern love.

The Negotiator: Smokey, Deep Springs, CA 6/3/2005

Coming Attraction

Devil, n. The author of all our woes and proprietor of all the good things in the world. He was made by the almighty, but brought into the world by woman.

How many people can say they've been reviewed by the devil? I mean, besides Charlie Daniels and just about every other author, actor, musician, poet and job applicant. One day I'll update this definition but for now we'll just call him the alter-ego of a really funny dog and a really nice guy. Extra credit update: The great enemy of every Christian, Jew and Muslim except for each other.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Railroad, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.

2005 Update: v.t. To deliver for justice someone guilty of original sin.
n. A means for escaping from or visiting by one's past.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Infancy, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, "Heaven lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.

2005 Update: The time when our contribution is least and our compensation is best.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Foolhardy, adj. Unlucky in the execution of a courageous act.

2005 Update: An adjective replacing Brilliant in the present tense.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Alone, adj. In bad company.

In contact, lo! the flint and steel,
By sharp and flame, the thought reveal
That he the metal, she the stone,
Had cherished secretly alone.

Thanks for the inspiration, Manjusha

2005 Update: Having the enemy surrounded with no victory at hand.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Wall Street

Wall Street, n. A symbol for sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven. Even the great and good Andrew Carnegie has made his profession of faith in the matter.

Carnegie the dauntless has uttered his call
To battle: "The brokers are parasites all!"
Carnegie, Carnegie, you'll never prevail;
Keep the wind of your slogan to belly your sail,
Go back to your isle of perpetual brume,
Silence your pibroch, doff tartan and plume:
Ben Lomond is calling his son from the fray --
Fly, fly from the region of Wall Street away!
While still you're possessed of a single baubee
(I wish it were pledged to endowment of me)
'Twere wise to retreat from the wars of finance
Lest its value decline ere your credit advance.
For a man 'twixt a king of finance and the sea,
Carnegie, Carnegie, your tongue is too free!

Anonymus Bink

2005 Update: The world's great center of commerce in all except goods and services.

By the way, five demerits to anyone who leaves "The capitol of capital" in the comments.