184 The Devil’s Dictionary

  • The Devil’s Dictionary is a satirical rendition of the dictionary
  • Published in 1906
  • Satire is the literary use of humor exaggeration, and irony in order to point out specific issues in society.


When you first hear the title The Devil’s Dictionary, you may think the book has something to do with Satanism, but that is far from the truth. Although Bierce was into the supernatural, he felt that he was being devilish or mischievous in his satirical treatment of common word phrases. The Devil’s Dictionary uses the format of a dictionary to redefine words in the American language. Not only does he provide his own definition, he also uses contextual examples. The words are defined as they really are in society rather than a set definitions by scholars.

Example: Architect- One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.


  1. Was Bierce taking a shot at society with the Devil’s Dictionary?
  2. Judging by how Bierce redefines these words, does it show how observant of a person he is?
  3. Do you think Bierce’s personality and also what he stood for lead him to write the Devil’s Dictionary?



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

openamlitGU by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Comments are closed.