Quotes by Ambrose Bierce

Share Your Quotes Join Us Inspire & Move Your Friends

How do you feel today?    I feel ...

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (born June 24, 1842, Horse Cave Creek, Meigs County, Ohio, USA date of death uncertain, possibly December 1913 or early 1914, presumably in Mexico) was an American satirist, critic, poet, short story ... more

Add to my favourites Get these quotes on a PDF
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.

Abstainer. A weak man who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
Absurdity. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
Patience. A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.
A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
Beauty. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.
Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
Peace, in international affairs, is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.
Happiness is an agreeable sensation, arising from contemplating the misery of others.
Fidelity. A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.
A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
Woman absent is woman dead.
Optimism. The doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.
Pray. To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
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.
Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
Bore -- a person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Age. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that remain by reviling those we have no longer the vigor to commit.
Faith. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Experience. The wisdom that enables us to recognize in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
Dog. A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship.
A cynic is a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, and not as they ought to be.
Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
Acquaintance: a degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous.
Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
Truth -- An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance.
Incompatibility. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination.
To bother about the best method of accomplishing an accidental result.
Knowledge is the small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify.
An account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
Confidante. One entrusted by A with the secrets of B confided to herself by C.
APOLOGIZE, v. to lay the foundation for a future offense.
Egotist. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than me.
Divorce. A resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.
The covers of this book are too far apart.
Irreligion. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
Consult. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.
Bride. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
They say that hens do cackle loudest when there is nothing vital in the eggs they have laid.
Trial. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.
Appeal. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.
Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.
Life. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.
A man is known by the company he organizes.
The world has suffered more from the ravages of ill-advised marriages than from virginity.
Marriage. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
Before undergoing a surgical operation, arrange your temporal affairs. You may live.
An accident is an inevitable occurrence due to the actions of immutable natural laws.
Miss: A title with which we brand unmarried women to indicate that they are in the market. Miss, Misses (Mrs.) and Mister (Mr.) are the three most distinctly disagreeable words in the language, in sound and sense. Two are corruptions of Mistress, the other of Master. If we must have them, let us be consistent and give one to the unmarried man. I venture to suggest Mush, abbreviated to MH.
Convent. A place of retirement for women who wish for leisure to meditate upon the sin of idleness.
A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man, who has no gills.
An optimist is a proponent of the doctrine that black is white.
Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves a glorious success.
Philanthropist. A rich (and usually bald) old gentleman who has trained himself to grin while his conscience is picking his pocket.
PHYSICIAN, n. One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.
Politeness -- The most acceptable hypocrisy.
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.
Eulogy. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
Admiration; is our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.
A prejudice is a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
Prophecy: The art and practice of selling one's credibility for future delivery.
Nominee. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public office.
The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
Insurrection. An unsuccessful revolution; disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government.
Revolution is an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.
Saint. A dead sinner revised and edited.
Erudition. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.
Backbite. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.
Success is the one unpardonable sin against one's fellows.
Take not God's name in vain; select a time when it will have effect.
Learning. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
Laziness. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.
Litigant. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.
Laughter -- An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.
Witticism. A sharp and clever remark, usually quoted and seldom noted; what the Philistine is pleased to call a joke.
Impiety. Your irreverence toward my deity.
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.
Impartial. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy.
Alien. An American sovereign in his probationary state.
Historian. A broad -- gauge gossip.
Habit is a shackle for the free.
The gambling known as business looks with severe disfavor on the business known as gambling.
Future: That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
A funeral is a pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker.
Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.
Enthusiasm. A distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.
An egotist is a person interested in himself than in me!
Duty. That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.
Opiate. An unlocked door in the prison of Identity. It leads into the jail yard.
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.
Destiny. A tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure.
Deliberation. The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.
Forgetfulness. A gift of God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
Abscond. To move in a mysterious way, commonly with the property of another.
Creditor. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.
A coward is one who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.
Conservative. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
The Senate is a body of old men charged with high duties and misdemeanors.
Compromise. 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.
When in Rome, do as Rome does.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy and the world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
To be positive: to be mistaken at the top of one's voice.
Don't steal; thou it never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat.
Bigot, one who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking.
Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
Genealogy. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
Ambition. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
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.
An acquaintance is someone we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
Idiot, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
Conservative, n. A statesman enamored of existing evils, as opposed to a Liberal, who wants to replace them with new ones.
Friendless, adj. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.
BAPTISM, n. A sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever. It is performed with water in two ways--by immersion, or plunging, and by aspersion, or sprinkling. But whether the plan of immersion Is better than simple aspersion Let those immersed And those aspersed Decide by the Authorized Version, And by matching their agues tertian. (G.J.)
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. ACADEMY, n. (from academe). A modern school where football is taught.
Wit. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.
APRIL FOOL, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly.
MONDAY, n. In Christian countries, the day after the baseball game.
To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.
Liberty, n. One of imagination’s most precious possessions.
HOUSE, n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus, and microbe.
AFFIANCE, pp. Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain.
BABE or BABY, n. A misshapen creature of no particular age, sex, or condition, chiefly remarkable for the violence of the sympathies and antipathies it excites in others, itself without sentiment or emotion.
CALAMITY, n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakeable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering.
ABSTAINER; n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. . . . BRANDY; n. A cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder.