ASS, n. A Donkey. The animal is widely and variously celebrated in the literature, art and religion of every age and country; no other so engages and fires the human imagination as this noble vertebrate. Indeed, it is doubted by some if it is not a god; and as such we know it was worshiped by the Etruscans, and, if we may believe Macrobious, by the Cupasians also. Of the only two animals admitted into the Mahometan Paradise along with the souls of men, the ass that carried Balaam is one, the dog of the Seven Sleepers the other. This is no small distinction. From what has been written about this beast might be compiled a library of great splendor and magnitude, rivalling that of the Shakespearean cult, and that which clusters about the Bible. It may be said, generally, that all literature is more or less Asinine.
IMPALE, v.t. In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains fixed in the wound. This, however, is inaccurate; to imaple is, properly, to put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the body, the victim being left in a sitting position. This was a common mode of punishment among many of the nations of antiquity, and is still in high favor in China and other parts of Asia. Down to the beginning of the fifteenth century it was widely employed in "churching" heretics and schismatics. Wolecraft calls it the "stoole of repentynge," and among the common people it was jocularly known as "riding the one legged horse." Ludwig Salzmann informs us that in Tibet impalement is considered the most appropriate punishment for crimes against religion; and although in China it is sometimes awarded for secular offences, it is most frequently adjudged in cases of sacrilege. To the person in actual experience of impalement it must be a matter of minor importance by what kind of civil or religious dissent he was made acquainted with its discomforts; but doubtless he would feel a certain satisfaction if able to contemplate himself in the character of a weather-cock on the spire of the True Church.
MAYONNAISE, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
NIRVANA, n. In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable annihilation awarded to the wise,
particularly to those wise enough to understand it.
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. "What is your religion my son?" inquired the Archbishop of Rheims.
"Pardon, monseigneur," replied Rochebriant; "I am ashamed of it."
"Then why do you not become an atheist?"
RUBBISH, n. Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions lying due south from Boreaplas.
These definitions are from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, published in 1911.
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