EAT, v.i. To perform successively (and successfully) the functions of mastication, humectation and deglutition.
"I was in the drawing-room, enjoying my dinner," said Brillat-Savarin, beginning an anecdote. "What!" interrupted Rochebriant; "eating dinner in a drawing-room?" "I must beg you to observe, monsieur," explained the great gastronome, "that I did not say I was eating my dinner, but enjoying it. I had dined an hour before."
EAVESDROP, v.i. Secretly to overhear a catalogue of the crimes and vices of another or yourself.A lady with one of her ears applied To an open keyhole heard, inside, Two female gossips in converse free — The subject engaging them was she. "I think," said one, "and my husband thinks That she's a prying, inquisitive minx!" As soon as no more of it she could hear The lady, indignant, removed her ear. "I will not stay," she said, with a pout, "To hear my character lied about!" —Gopete Sherany
ECCENTRICITY, n. A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity.
ECONOMY, n. Purchasing the barrel of whisky that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.
EDIBLE, adj. 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.
EDITOR, n. A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Æacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering its mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought, A gilded impostor is he. Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought, His crown is brass, Himself an ass, And his power is fiddle-dee-dee. Prankily, crankily prating of naught, Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought. Public opinion's camp-follower he, Thundering, blundering, plundering free. Affected, Ungracious, Suspected, Mendacious, Respected contemporaree! —J.H. Bumbleshook
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
EFFECT, n. The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order. The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other — which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of the dog.
EFFEROUS, EFFIGIATE, EFFLAGITATE, EFFODIENT, EFFOSSION. See some other dictionary.
EGO, n. I — the Latin form of the word. The Romans were afflicted with an impediment in their speech, and that was as good a stagger as they could make at it. Kings and editors get a little nearer to the true pronunciation; they say "We."
EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.Megaceph, chosen to serve the State In the halls of legislative debate, One day with all his credentials came To the capitol's door and announced his name. The doorkeeper looked, with a comical twist Of the face, at the eminent egotist, And said: "Go away, for we settle here All manner of questions, knotty and queer, And we cannot have, when the speaker demands To be told how every member stands, A man who to all things under the sky Assents by eternally voting 'I'."
EJECTION, n. An approved remedy for the disease of garrulity. It is also much used in cases of extreme poverty.
ELECTED, adj. Chosen to discharge one duty and a hundred subordinates.
ELECTIONEER, v.i. To stand on a platform and scream that Smith is a child of light and Jones a worm of the dust.
ELECTOR, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice.
ELECTRICITY, n. The power that causes all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else. It is the same thing as lightning, and its famous attempt to strike Dr. Franklin is one of the most picturesque incidents in that great and good man's career. The memory of Dr. Franklin is justly held in great reverence, particularly in France, where a waxen effigy of him was recently on exhibition, bearing the following touching account of his life and services to science:"Monsieur Franqulin, inventor of electricity. This illustrious savant, after having made several voyages around the world, died on the Sandwich Islands and was devoured by savages, of whom not a single fragment was ever recovered."Electricity seems destined to play a most important part in the arts and industries. The question of its economical application to some purposes is still unsettled, but experiment has already proved that it will propel a street car better than a gas jet and give more light than a horse.
ELEGY, n. A composition in verse, in which, without employing any of the methods of humor, the writer aims to produce in the reader's mind the dampest kind of dejection. The most famous English example begins somewhat like this:The cur foretells the knell of parting day; The loafing herd winds slowly o'er the lea; The wise man homeward plods; I only stay To fiddle-faddle in a minor key.
ELEPHANT, n. A joker of the animal kingdom, having a flexible nose and limited warehouse accommodation for his teeth.
ELEUSINIAN, adj. Relating to Eleusis, in Greece, where certain famous rites or "mysteries." were celebrated in honor of Ceres, though that discreet goddess commonly sent her regrets and had an engagement elsewhere. There is a good deal of uncertainty among the moderns as to what these mysteries really were. Some of the old Greek writers, who as small boys sneaked in under the tent, have attempted a description, but without success; the spirit was willing but the language was weak.
ELOPE, v.i. To exchange the perils and inconveniences of a fixed residence for the security and comfort of travel.
ELOQUENCE, n. [1.] 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. [2.] A method of convincing fools. The art is commonly presented under the visible aspect of a bald-headed little man gesticulating above a glass of water.
ELYSIUM, n. [1.] An imaginary delightful country which the ancients foolishly believed to be inhabited by the spirits of the good. This ridiculous and mischievous fable was swept off the face of the earth by the early Christians — may their souls be happy in Heaven! [2.] The Heaven of the ancients.Nothing could be more ludicrous than this crude conception; instead of golden clouds, harps, crowns and a great white throne, there were fields, groves, streams, flowers and temples. In the ancient Elysium we have a signal example of the inferiority of pagan imagination to Christian knowledge.
EMANCIPATION, n. A bondman's change from the tyranny of another to the despotism of himself.He was a slave: at word he went and came; His iron collar cut him to the bone. Then Liberty erased his owner's name, Tightened the rivets and inscribed his own. —G.J.
EMBALM, v.i. [1.] To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which it feeds. By embalming their dead and thereby deranging the natural balance between animal and vegetable life, the Egyptians made their once fertile and populous country barren and incapable of supporting more than a meagre crew. The modern metallic burial casket is a step in the same direction, and many a dead man who ought now to be ornamenting his neighbor's lawn as a tree, or enriching his table as a bunch of radishes, is doomed to a long inutility. We shall get him after awhile if we are spared, but in the meantime the violet and rose are languishing for a nibble at his glutæus maximus. [2.] To cure the human bacon. The processes of embalming have been essentially the same in all ages and countries. The following recipe from an ancient papyrus, discovered in the pocket of a mummy in a museum, gives a good general notion of the business:Remove the decedent's refractory tripes And glut him with various kinds of swipes Till the pickle pervades all his tissues and drips In a delicate odorous dew from the tips Of his fingers and toes. Then carefully stitch In a league of linen bedaubed with pitch. Sign him and seal him and pot him away To await the dawn of the Judgment Day, A source — as he tranquilly presses his shelf — Of joy to his widow and pride to himself.
EMBASSADOR, n. A minister of high rank maintained by one government at the capital of another to execute the will of his wife.
EMBER DAYS, n. Certain days specially set apart for punishing the stomach and the knees. They are so called because on these days the ashes are blown off the embers of our holy religion.
EMBEZZLE, v.i. To protect property held in trust from the vicissitudes of a brief tenure and a divided control.
EMERGENCY, n. The wise man's opportunity and the fool'sWaterloo. A condition of things requiring one to think like a mill-stream, look like an idiot and act like an earthquake.
EMETIC, n. A substance that causes the stomach to take a sudden and enthusiastic interest in outside affairs.
EMOTION, n. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes.
EMPEROR, n. One ranking next above a king. An ace, as it were.
ENCOMIAST, n. A special (but not particular) kind of liar.
ENCOMIUM, n. A kind of intellectual fog, through which the virtues of its objects are seen magnified many diameters.
ENCORE, adv. (French.) Again. An exclamation intended to procure for the exclaimer more than his money's worth by flattering the exclaimee. When shouted out at a concert it means, "Sing us 'Way down upon the S'wanee Ribber.'"
ENCOURAGE, v.i. To confirm a fool in a folly that is beginning to hurt him.
ENCUMBRANCE, n. That which makes property worthless without affecting its title. Another fellow's right to the inside of your pie.
END, n. The position farthest removed on either hand from the Interlocutor.The man was perishing apace Who played the tambourine: The seal of death was on his face — 'Twas pallid, for 'twas clean.
"This is the end," the sick man said In faint and failing tones. A moment later he was dead, And Tambourine was Bones. —Tinley Roquot
ENDEAR, v.t. To procure for yourself, or bestow upon another, the ability to do a favor.The friendship of Crocker I tenderly prize — I wear many kinds of his collars. He's endeared to my heart by the sacred ties Of a thousand accessible dollars. —Rare Ben. Truman
ENEMY, n. A designing scoundrel who has done you some service which it is inconvenient to repay. In military affairs, a body of men actuated by the basest motives and pursuing the most iniquitous aim.
ENGLISH, n. A language so haughty and reserved that few writers succeed in getting on terms of familiarity with it.
ENIGMA, n. A Morning Call editorial by which the illustrious nation-swayer of that journal bends public opinion to what is conjectured to be his will. It is written with the dried tail of a jackass, dipped in liquid moonshine, and interpreted by the light of possible events in the sweet by-and-by.
ENOUGH, pro. All there is in the world if you like it.Enough is as good as a feast — for that matter Enougher's as good as a feast and the platter. —Arbely C. Strunk
ENTERTAINMENT, n. Any kind of amusement whose inroads stop short of death by dejection.
ENTHUSIASM, n. A distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience. Byron, who recovered long enough to call it "entuzy-muzy," had a relapse which carried him off — to Missolonghi.
ENTR'ACTE, n. An actor's lucid interval, during which he talks rationally with his keeper — barkeeper.
ENVELOPE, n. The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter.
ENVY, n. [1.] Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity. [2.] The feeling that provokes a preacher to denounce the Adversary.I curse you, Jack Satan, in horns and in hoof For you're a competing divine, And the souls you pull into your pit are a proof That your pull-pit is bigger than mine. —Rare Ben. Truman
EOCENE, adj. First in order of the three great periods into which geologists have divided the age of the world. It was during the Eocene Period that most of the current newspaper jokes were deposited, as is abundantly attested by the affection that Mr. Pickering has for them. They were the companions of his childhood.
EPAULET, n. An ornamented badge, serving to distinguish a military officer from the enemy — that is to say, from the officer of lower rank to whom his death would give promotion.
EPICURE, n. [1.] An opponent of Epicurus, an abstemious philosopher who, holding that pleasure should be the chief aim of man, wasted no time in gratification of the senses. [2.] A person who is overmuch given to pleasures of the table. So called from Epicurus, a philosopher widely celebrated for his abstemious habits, as a condition favorable to the cultivation of intellectual enjoyment.
EPIDEMIC, n. A disease having a sociable turn and few prejudices.
EPIDERMIS, n. The thin integument which lies immediately outside the skin and immediately inside the dirt.
EPIGRAM, n. [1.] A short, sharp saying in prose or verse, frequently characterized by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom. Following are some of the more notable epigrams of the learned and ingenious Dr. Jamrach Holobom:
We know better the needs of ourselves than of others. To serve oneself is economy of administration.
In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.
There are three sexes: males, females and girls.
Beauty in women and distinction in men are alike in this: they seem to the unthinking a kind of credibility.
Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.
While your friend holds you affectionately by both your hands you are safe, for you can watch both his.
[2.] A short, sharp and ingenious thought commonly expressed in verse. The following noble example of the epigram is from the inspired pen of the great Californian poet, Hector A. Stuart.When God had fashioned this terrestrial frame And given to each created thing a name, He saw His hands both empty, and explained: "I've nothing left." The nothing that remained Said: "Make me into something light and free" God heard, and made it into brains for me![3.] A short sharp saying, commonly in rhyme, characterized by a vivacious acidity of thought calculated to make him of whom it is written wish it had been an epitaph instead.Once Hector Stuart in his tersest mood Took up his pencil. "By the holy rood!" He cried, "I'll write an epigram." He did — Nay, by the holy mile his pencil slid.
EPITAPH, n. [1.] An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect. Following is a touching example:Here lie the bones of Parson Platt, Wise, pious, humble and all that, Who showed us life as all should live it; Let that be said — and God forgive it![2.] A monumental inscription designed to remind the deceased of what he might have been if he had had the will and opportunity. The following epitaphs were copied by a prophet from the headstones of the future:"Here lies the remains of great Senator Vrooman, Whose head was as hard as the heart of a woman — Whose heart was as soft as the head of a hammer. Dame Fortune advanced him to eminence, d—— her!""We mourn the loss Of Senator Cross. If he'd perished later Our grief had been greater. If he never had died We should always have cried. As he died and decayed His corruption was stayed.""Beneath this mound Charles Crocker now reposes; Step lightly, strangers — also hold your noses.""The doctors they tried to hold William Stow back, but We played at his graveside the sham and the sackbut."
EQUALITY, n. In politics, an imaginary condition in which skulls are counted, instead of brains, and merit is determined by lot and punished by preferment. Pushed to its logical conclusion, the principle requires rotation in office and in the penitentiary. All men being equally entitled to a vote, are equally entitled to office, and equally subject to conviction.
ERIN, n. The fountain of American political wisdom and principles of municipal government.
ERMINE, n. The state, dignity or condition of a judge. The word is formed of the two words, err and mine — the one suggesting the tendency of a judicial mind, the other expressing, in a general way, the judicial notion of the rightful ownership to property in dispute.
ERR, v.i. To believe or act in a way contrary to my beliefs and actions.
ERUDITION, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.So wide his erudition's mighty span, He knew Creation's origin and plan And only came by accident to grief — He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief. —Romach Pute
ESOPHAGUS, n. That portion of the alimentary canal that lies between pleasure and business.
ESOTERIC, adj. Very particularly abstruse and consummately occult. The ancient philosophies were of two kinds, — exoteric, those that the philosophers themselves could partly understand, and esoteric, those that nobody could understand. It is the latter that have most profoundly affected modern thought and found greatest acceptance in our time.
ESQUIRE, n. Formerly a dignity immediately below that of a knight; now a dignity immediately above that of a felon. In this country the only allowable use of the word is, in its abbreviated form, in the superscriptions of letters: but ignorant and vulgar writers attach it to the names of prominent men as a title of respect. Mr. Frank Pixley, of the Argonaut, uses it thus, but with commendable discrimination — he appends it only to the names of the rich.
ESSENTIAL, adj. Pertaining to the essence, or that which determines the distinctive character of a thing. Persons who, because they do not know the English language, are driven to the unprofitable vocation of writing for American newspapers, commonly use this word in the sense of necessary, as "April rains are essential to June harvests."
ESTEEM, n. [1.] The degree of favorable regard that is due to one who has the power to serve us and has not yet refused. [2.] Payment in full for a benefaction.
ESTOPPEL, n. In law, the kind of a stopple with which a man is corked up with his plea inside him.
ETHNOLOGY, n. [1.] The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists. [2.] A science that recognizes the difference between a Chinaman and a Nigger, but is oblivious to the difference between a gentleman and a blackguard.
ETIQUETTE, n. A code of social rites, ceremonies and observances, constituting a vulgarian's claim to toleration. The fool's credentials.When first Society was founded, It was discovered, as time sped, That men of sense and taste abounded, But they were mostly dead. While, of the women fitted to adorn The social circle, few had yet been born.
Those, then, that met were rather lonely, And scarce could call themselves "our set"; So they, to swell their numbers only, Invented Etiquette, And said: "Such fools as will observe these rules May meet us, though they're all the greater fools."
Straightway the fools then fell to study The laws of conduct à la mode, And though their minds were somewhat muddy They soon had learned the code. Then, seeing its authors hadn't, plainly told them They'd make Society too hot to hold them.
EUCALYPTUS, n. [1.] A genus of trees remarkable for their abundance of assorted ill smells — including the Eucalyptus disgustus, the E. nasocompressus and the E. skunkatus. [2.] A tree holding, in the vegetable kingdom, the high and honored distinction enjoyed in the animal kingdom by the blue skunk. The variety most in favor is the E. disgustifolium. The medicinal value of its foliage is very great — it cures happiness.
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.
EUCHRE, n. A game of cards in which the highest cards and the best players are knaves.
EULOGY, n. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
EUPHEMISM, n. [1.] A figure of speech in which the speaker or writer makes his expression a good deal softer than the facts would warrant him in doing; as, for example, in the famous triolet of the Rev. Adiposus Drowze, rector of the Church of St. Sinecure, this Diocese:Iscariot blundered in selling for thirty, And all the Jews wondered that Judas had blundered. By asking a hundred his crime were less dirty. Iscariot blundered in selling for thirty.[2.] In rhetoric, a figure by which the severe asperity of truth is mitigated by the use of a softer expression than the facts would warrant — as, to call Mr. Charles Crocker ninety-nine kinds of a knave.
EVANESCENCE, n. The quality that so charmingly distinguishes happiness from grief, and enables us to make an immediate comparison between pleasure and pain, for better enjoyment of the former.
EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.
EVERLASTING, adj. Lasting forever. It is with no small diffidence that I venture to offer this brief and elementary definition, for I am not unaware of the existence of a bulky volume by a sometime Bishop of Worcester, entitled, A Partial Definition of the Word "Everlasting," as Used in the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures. His book was once esteemed of great authority in the Anglican Church, and is still, I understand, studied with pleasure to the mind and profit to the soul.
EVOLUTION, n. The process by which the higher organisms are gradually developed from the lower, as Man from the Assisted Immigrant, the Office-Holder from theWard Boss, the Thief from the Office-Holder, etc.
EXCEPTION, n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc. "The exception proves the rule" is an expression constantly upon the lips of the ignorant, who parrot it from one another with never a thought of its absurdity. In the Latin, "Exceptio probat regulam" means that the exception tests the rule, puts it to the proof, not confirms it. The malefactor who drew the meaning from this excellent dictum and substituted a contrary one of his own exerted an evil power which appears to be immortal.
EXCESS, n. In morals, an indulgence that enforces by appropriate penalties the law of moderation.Hail, high Excess — especially in wine. To thee in worship do I bend the knee Who preach abstemiousness unto me — My skull thy pulpit, as my paunch thy shrine. Precept on precept, aye, and line on line, Could ne'er persuade so sweetly to agree With reason as thy touch, exact and free, Upon my forehead and along my spine. At thy command eschewing pleasure's cup, With the hot grape I warm no more my wit; When on thy stool of penitence I sit I'm quite converted, for I can't get up. Ungrateful he who afterward would falter To make new sacrifices at thine altar!
EXCOMMUNICATION, n. [1.] This "excommunication" is a word In speech ecclesiastical oft heard, And means the damning, with bell, book and candle, Some sinner whose opinions are a scandal — A rite permitting Satan to enslave him Forever, and forbidding Christ to save him. —Gat Huckle[2.] A religious rite whereby a person who has offended a priest is given over to the devil to be eternally damned for the betterment of his soul. In the lesser excommunication, however, the offender is only denied the privilege of putting his God into his stomach.
EXCURSION, n. An expedition of so disagreeable a character that steamboat and railroad fares are compassionately mitigated to the miserable sufferers.
EXECUTIONER, n. A person who does what he can to abate the ravages of senility and reduce the chances of being drowned.
EXECUTIVE, n. An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of no effect. Following is an extract from an old book entitled, The Lunarian Astonished — Pfeiffer & Co., Boston, 1803:LUNARIAN: Then when your Congress has passed a law it goes directly to the Supreme Court in order that it may at once be known whether it is constitutional?TERRESTRIAN: O no; it does not require the approval of the Supreme Court until having perhaps been enforced for many years somebody objects to its operation against himself — I mean his client. The President, if he approves it, begins to execute it at once.LUNARIAN: Ah, the executive power is a part of the legislative. Do your policemen also have to approve the local ordinances that they enforce?TERRESTRIAN: Not yet — at least not in their character of constables. Generally speaking, though, all laws require the approval of those whom they are intended to restrain.LUNARIAN: I see. The death warrant is not valid until signed by the murderer.TERRESTRIAN: My friend, you put it too strongly; we are not so consistent.LUNARIAN: But this system of maintaining an expensive judicial machinery to pass upon the validity of laws only after they have long been executed, and then only when brought before the court by some private person — does it not cause great confusion?TERRESTRIAN: It does.LUNARIAN: Why then should not your laws, previously to being executed, be validated, not by the signature of your President, but by that of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?TERRESTRIAN: There is no precedent for any such course.LUNARIAN: Precedent. What is that?TERRESTRIAN: It has been defined by five hundred lawyers in three volumes each. So how can any one know?
EXHORT, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.
EXILE, n. One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador.
An English sea-captain being asked if he had read "The Exile of Erin," replied: "No, sir, but I should like to anchor on it." Years afterwards, when he had been hanged as a pirate after a career of unparalleled atrocities, the following memorandum was found in the ship's log that he had kept at the time of his reply:
Aug. 3d, 1842. Made a joke on the ex-Isle of Erin. Coldly received. War with the whole world!
EXISTENCE, n. A transient, horrible, fantastic dream, Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem: From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge Of our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!"
EXONERATE, v.t. To show that from a series of vices and crimes some particular crime or vice was accidentally omitted
EXPECTATION, n. The state or condition of mind which in the procession of human emotions is preceded by hope and followed by despair.
EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.To one who, journeying through night and fog, Is mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog, Experience, like the rising of the dawn, Reveals the path that he should not have gone. —Joel Frad Bink
EXPOSTULATION, n. One of the many methods by which fools prefer to lose their friends.
EXTINCTION, n. The raw material out of which theology created the future state.