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PREFACE
BAAL, n. An old deity formerly much worshiped under various names. As Baal he was popular with the Phœnicians; as Belus or Bel he had the honor to be served by the priest Berosus, who wrote the famous account of the Deluge; as Babel he had a tower partly erected to his glory on the Plain of Shinar. From Babel comes our English word "babble." Under whatever name worshiped, Baal is the Sun-god. As Beëlzebub he is the god of flies, which are begotten of the sun's rays on stagnant water. In Physicia Baal is still worshiped as Bolus, and as Belly he is adored and served with abundant sacrifice by the priests of Guttledom.
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. There have been famous babes; for example, little Moses, from whose adventure in the bulrushes the Egyptian hierophants of seven centuries before doubtless derived their idle tale of the child Osiris being preserved on a floating lotus leaf.
Ere babes were invented
The girls were contented.
Now man is tormented
Until to buy babes he has squandered
His money. And so I have pondered
This thing, and thought maybe
'Twere better that Baby
The First had been eagled or condored.
—Ro Amil
BACCHUS, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.
Is public worship, then, a sin,
That for devotions paid to Bacchus
The lictors dare to run us in,
And resolutely thump and whack us?
—Jorace
BACHELOR, n. A man whom women are still sampling.
BACK, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.
BACKBITE, v.t. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.
BACK-SLIDE, v.i. To join another communion.
BACON, n. The mummy of a pig embalmed in "save one's bacon" is to narrowly escape some particular woman, or other peril.
By heaven forsaken,
By Justice o'ertaken,
He saved his bacon
By cutting a single slice of it;
For 'twas cut from the throat,
And we venture to quote
Death, hell and the grave as the price of it.
—S. F. Journal of Commerce
BAIT, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.
BALD, adj. Destitute of hair from hereditary or accidental causes — never from.
BALLOON, n. A contrivance for larding the earth with the fat of fools.
BALLOT, n. A simple device by which a majority proves to a minority the folly of resistance. Many worthy persons of imperfect thinking apparatus believe that majorities govern through some inherent right; and minorities submit, not because they must, but because they ought.
BANDIT, n. A person who takes by force from A what A has taken by guile from B.
BANG, n. The cry of a gun. That arrangement of a woman's hair which suggests the thought of shooting her; hence the name.
BANG, v.t. To admonish, protest or persuade, with a club.
Tom having taken Jane to be his wife,
His friends expect of him a better life;
For still by her example he is led,
And when she bangs her hair he bangs her head.
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.
BARBER, n. (Lat. barbarus, savage, from barba, the beard.) A savage whose laceration of your cheek is unobserved in the superior torment of his conversation.
BARD, n. A person who makes rhymes. The word is one of the numerous aliases under which the poet seeks to veil his identity and escape opprobrium.
BARK, n. The song of the dog.
"My bark is on the wave," all writers quote.
"Mine too," says the retriever, "is afloat."
BAROMETER, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
BARRACK, n. A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of which it is their business to deprive others.
BARRISTER, n. One of the ten thousand varieties of the genus Lawyer. In England the functions of a barrister are distinct from those of a solicitor. The one advises, the other executes; but the thing advised and the thing executed is the client.
BASE, adj. The quality of a competitor's motive.
BASILISK, n. The cockatrice. A sort of serpent hatched from the egg of a cock. The basilisk had a bad eye, and its glance was fatal. Many infidels deny this creature's existence, but Semprello Aurator saw and handled one that had been blinded by lightning as a punishment for having fatally gazed on a lady of rank whom Jupiter loved. Juno afterward restored the reptile's sight and hid it in a cave. Nothing is so well attested by the ancients as the existence of the basilisk, but the cocks have stopped laying.
BASSINET, n. A shrine in which is worshiped "the image of its pa." The word is from the French berceaunette, but the "image" is derived Lord knows whence.
BASSOON, n. A brazen instrument into which a fool blows out his brains.
BASSO-RELIEVO, n. (Italian.) Low relief. The relief of a sick vulgarian.
BASTINADO, n. The act of walking on wood without exertion.
BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.
The man who taketh a steam bath
He loseth all the skin he hath,
And, for he's boiled a brilliant red,
Thinketh to cleanliness he's wed,
Forgetting that his lungs he's soiling
With dirty vapors of the boiling.
—Richard Gwow
BATTLE, n. A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
BAYONET, n. An instrument for pricking the bubble of a nation's conceit.
BEAR, n. In the stock market, a broker who, having sold short, uses his customers' stocks to break the price.
BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.
BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
BED, n. A rack for the torture of the wicked; a citadel unfortified against remorse.
BEDLAM, n. A house whose inmates are all poets — "of imagination all compact."
BED-QUILT, n. The exterior covering of a bed. Sometimes called Charity.
BEFRIEND, v.t. To make an ingrate.
BEG, v. To ask for something with an earnestness proportioned to the belief that it will not be given.
Who is that, father?

A mendicant, child,
Haggard, morose, and unaffable — wild!
See how he glares through the bars of his cell!
With Citizen Mendicant all is not well.

Why did they put him there, father?

Because
Obeying his belly he struck at the laws.

His belly?

Oh, well, he was starving, my boy —
A state in which, doubtless, there's little of joy.
No bite had he eaten for days, and his cry
Was "Bread!" ever "Bread!"

What's the matter with pie?

With little to wear, he had nothing to sell;
To beg was unlawful — improper as well.

Why didn't he work?

He would even have done that,
But men said: "Get out!" and the State remarked: "Scat!"
I mention these incidents merely to show
That the vengeance he took was uncommonly low.
Revenge, at the best, is the act of a Sioux,
But for trifles —

Pray what did bad Mendicant do?

Stole two loaves of bread to replenish his lack
And tuck out the belly that clung to his back.

Is that
all father dear?

There's little to tell:
They sent him to jail, and they'll send him to — well,
The company's better than here we can boast,
And there's —

Bread for the needy, dear father?

Um — toast.
—Atka Mip
BEGGAR, n. [1] One who has relied on the assistance of his friends. [2] A pest unkindly inflicted upon the suffering rich.
BEGGARY, n. The condition of one who has relied on the co-operation of his friends.
BEHAVIOR, n. Conduct, as determined, not by principle, but by breeding. The word seems to be somewhat loosely used in Dr. Jamrach Holobom's translation of the following lines in the Dies Iræ:
Recordare, Jesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ.
Ne me perdas illa die.

Pray remember, sacred Savior,
Whose the thoughtless hand that gave your
Death-blow. Pardon such behavior.
BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
BENEDICTINES, n. An order of monks otherwise known as black friars.
She thought it a crow, but it turned out to be
A monk of St. Benedict croaking a text.
"Here's one of an order of cooks," said she —
"Black friars in this world, fried black in the next."
—"The Devil on Earth" (London, 1712)
BENEFACTOR, n. One who makes heavy purchases of ingratitude, without, however, materially affecting the price, which is still within the means of all.
BENEVOLENCE, n. Subscribing five dollars toward the relief of one's aged grandfather in the alms house, and publishing it in the newspaper.
BEQUEATH, v.t. To generously give to another that which can be no longer denied somebody.
BERENICE'S HAIR, n. A constellation (Coma Berenices) named in honor of one who sacrificed her hair to save her husband.
Her locks an ancient lady gave
Her loving husband's life to save;
And men — they honored so the dame —
Upon some stars bestowed her name.

But to our modern married fair,
Who'd give their lords to save their hair,
No stellar recognition's given.
There are not stars enough in heaven.
—G.J.
BETRAY, v.t. To make payment for confidence
BETROTHED, pp. The condition of a man and woman who, pleasing to one another and objectionable to their friends, are anxious to propitiate society by becoming unendurable to each other.
BIDDY, n. One of the oppressed of all nations, for whom our forefathers thoughtfully provided an asylum in our kitchens.
BIGAMY, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy.
BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
BILLOT-DOUX, n. In the bright lexicon of Shoddy, a love-letter.
BILLINGSGATE, n. The invective of an opponent.
BIOGRAPHY, n. The literary tribute that a little man pays to a big one.
BIRTH, n. The first and direst of all disasters. As to the nature of it there appears to be no uniformity. Castor and Pollux were born from the egg. Pallas came out of a skull. Galatea was once a block of stone. Peresilis, who wrote in the tenth century, avers that he grew up out of the ground where a priest had spilled holy water. It is known that Arimaxus was derived from a hole in the earth, made by a stroke of lightning. Leucomedon was the son of a cavern in Mount Ætna, and I have myself seen a man come out of a wine cellar.
BLACKGUARD, n. A man whose qualities, prepared for display like a box of berries in a market — the fine ones on top — have been opened on the wrong side. An inverted gentleman.
BLANK-VERSE, n. Unrhymed iambic pentameters — the most difficult kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind.
BLOODTHIRSTY, adj. Addicted to the wanton wasting of blood — which is probably very good to drink.
BLUBBER, n. The part of a whale which is to that creature what beauty is to a woman — the thing for which it is pursued.
During his past illness a dose of some kind of oil was administered to him by mistake, whereupon one of the ladies of his household began to weep. Some one attempting to comfort her, "Never mind," said the patient; "I've had my oil; let her have her blubber."
—Unpublished Memoirs of the late John B. Felton
BLUE-STOCKING, n. A woman who for their slight of her personal charms revenges herself upon men by caricaturing science, art, letters or learning.
"They call me a blue-stocking!" madam exclaimed;
"why, of all ladies, should I, sir, be named
From the hue of my stockings, which man never spied?"
"Nor ever desired to," the villain replied
BLUSHING, n. A trick formerly in great favor with women, but now fallen into disuse as a lost art, though by laborious practice the modern damsel is still able to achieve it at the risk of being taken in hand and treated for apoplexy.
BODY-SNATCHER, n. A robber of grave-worms. One who supplies the young physicians with that with which the old physicians have supplied the undertaker. The hyena.
"One night," a doctor said, "last fall,
I and my comrades, four in all,
When visiting a graveyard stood
Within the shadow of a wall.

"While waiting for the moon to sink
We saw a wild hyena slink
About a new-made grave, and then
Begin to excavate its brink!

"Shocked by the horrid act, we made
A sally from our ambuscade,
And, falling on the unholy beast,
Dispatched him with a pick and spade."
—Bettel K. Jhones
BOLOGNA-SAUGAGE, n. A dead dog that is better than a living lion, but not to eat.
BOMB or BOMB-SHELL, n. A besieger's argument in favor of capitulation, skillfully adapted to the understandings of the women and children.
BONDSMAN, n. A fool who, having property of his own, undertakes to become responsible for that entrusted by another to a third.

Philippe of Orleans wishing to appoint one of his favorites, a dissolute nobleman, to a high office, asked him what security he would be able to give. "I need no bondsmen," he replied, "for I can give you my word of honor." "And pray what may be the value of that?" inquired the amused Regent. "Monsieur, it is worth its weight in gold."

BOOK-LEARNING, n. The dunce's derisive term for all knowledge that transcends his own impenitent ignorance.
BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
BOTANY, n. The science of vegetables — those that are not good to eat, as well as those that are. It deals largely with their flowers, which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color and ill-smelling.
BOTTLE, n. An oracle consulted by Panurge as to whether he should marry. By the ancient Crapuli the bottle was worshiped as a deity, but since the great reformation the Amphoristic religion has prevailed among their descendants — that is to say, the worship of the Little Brown Jug, who, under the name of Juggernaut, is revered also by the Hindoos.
BOTTLE-NOSED, adj. Having a nose created in the image of its maker.
BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.
BOUNTY, n. The liberality of one who has much, in permitting one who has nothing to get all that he can.
A single swallow, it is said, devours ten millions of insects every year. The supplying of these insects I take to be a signal instance of the Creator's bounty in providing for the lives of His creatures.
—Henry Ward Beecher
BOW-WOW or BOUGH-WOW, n. See PERUVIAN BARK.
BRAHMA, n. He who created the Hindoos, who are preserved by Vishnu and destroyed by Siva — a rather neater division of labor than is found among the deities of some other nations. The Abracadabranese, for example, are created by Sin, maintained by Theft and destroyed by Folly. The priests of Brahma, like those of the Abracadabranese, are holy and learned men who are never naughty.
O Brahma, thou rare old Divinity,
First Person of the Hindoo Trinity,
You sit there so calm and securely,
With feet folded up so demurely —
You're the First Person Singular, surely.
—Polydore Smith
BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think. That which distinguishes the man who is content to be something from the man who wishes to do something. A man of great wealth, or one who has been pitchforked into high station, has commonly such a headful of brain that his neighbors cannot keep their hats on. In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, brain is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
BRAIN, v.t. To rebuke bluntly, but not pointedly; to dispel a source of error in an opponent.
BRANDY, n. A cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the-grave and four parts clarified Satan. Dose, a headful all the time. Brandy is said by Dr. Johnson to be the drink of heroes. Only a hero will venture to drink it.
BRIBE, n. That which enables a member of the Californian Legislature to live on.
BRIDE, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
BRUTE, n. See HUSBAND.
BUDDHISM, n. A preposterous form of religious error perversely preferred by about three-fourths of the human race. According to the Rev. Dr. Stebbins it is infinitely superior to the religion which he has the honor to expound. Therefore it is.
PREFACE