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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Ambrose Bierce Quotes

Ambrose Bierce
(24 Jun 1842 - c. 1914)

American writer and satirist whose wry humour in his book Devil's Dictionary (1906) remains popular today. In 1913, he travelled with Mexican rebels to observe first-hand the country's Revolution; thereafter, he disappeared and the circumstances of his death remain a mystery.

Science Quotes by Ambrose Bierce (89 quotes)

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.
— Ambrose Bierce
Attributed to Henry Ward Beecher as a quote under the definition of 'Bounty' in Ambrose Bierce, The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary, 40. Webmaster has not yet found a primary print source confirming the quote is by Beecher, and thus presently lists it under Bierce. Please contact webmaster if you know a primary print source for Beecher.
Science quotes on:  |  Creator (15)  |  God (234)  |  Insect (38)  |  Swallow (5)

ADDER, n. A species of snake. So called from its habit of adding funeral outlays to the other expenses of living.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  19.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Snake (6)

AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  21.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (84)  |  Humour (96)

APOTHECARY, n. The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor and grave worm's provider
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  24.
Science quotes on:  |  Apothecary (5)  |  Humour (96)

ARCHITECT, n. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  25.
Science quotes on:  |  Architect (4)  |  Humour (96)

ARSENIC, n. A kind of cosmetic greatly affected by the ladies, whom it greatly affects in turn.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  26.
Science quotes on:  |  Arsenic (2)  |  Humour (96)

BAROMETER, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  32.
Science quotes on:  |  Barometer (3)  |  Humour (96)

BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  36.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Poison (23)

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 Etna, and I have myself seen a man come out of a wine cellar.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  38.
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (47)  |  Humour (96)

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. 
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  38-39.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)

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.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  40.
Science quotes on:  |  Botany (30)  |  Humour (96)

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.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  41.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Humour (96)

CARNIVOROUS, adj. Addicted to the cruelty of devouring the timorous vegetarian, his heirs and assigns.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  46.
Science quotes on:  |  Carnivorous (2)  |  Humour (96)  |  Vegetarian (3)

CARTESIAN, adj. Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author of the celebrated dictum, Cogito, ergo sum—whereby he was pleased to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence. The dictum might be improved, however, thus: Cogito ergo cogito sum—'I think that I think, therefore I think that I am;' as close an approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  46-47.
Science quotes on:  |  René Descartes (32)  |  Humour (96)  |  Philosopher (67)

DENTIST, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  68.
Science quotes on:  |  Dentist (3)  |  Humour (96)

DIAGNOSIS, n. A physician's forecast of disease by the patient's pulse and purse.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  70.
Science quotes on:  |  Diagnosis (48)  |  Humour (96)  |  Physician (172)

DIAPHRAGM, n. A muscular partition separating disorders of the chest from disorders of the bowels.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  70.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)

DIGESTION, n. The conversion of victuals into virtues. When the process is imperfect, vices are evolved instead—a circumstance from which that wicked writer, Dr. Jeremiah Blenn, infers that the ladies are the greater sufferers from dyspepsia.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  72.
Science quotes on:  |  Digestion (15)  |  Humour (96)

DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  72.
Science quotes on:  |  Discussion (17)  |  Humour (96)

EAT, v.i. To perform successively (and successfully) the functions of mastication, humectation, and deglutition.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Cynic's Word Book (1906), 82. Also published later as The Devil's Dictionary.
Science quotes on:  |  Eat (15)  |  Humour (96)

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.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  79.
Science quotes on:  |  Edible (2)  |  Humour (96)  |  Worm (12)

EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Cynic's Word Book (1906), 86. Also published later as The Devil's Dictionary.
Science quotes on:  |  Disclose (2)  |  Disguise (2)  |  Education (177)  |  Foolish (4)  |  Lack (14)  |  Understanding (231)  |  Wise (11)

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 pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of the dog.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Cynic's Word Book (1906), 86. Later published as The Devil's Dictionary.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (122)  |  Declare (5)  |  Dog (24)  |  Effect (72)  |  Generate (3)  |  Occur (8)  |  Order (60)  |  Phenomenon (114)  |  Pursuit (34)  |  Rabbit (4)  |  Same (15)  |  Sensible (11)  |  Together (15)

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.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Cynic's Word Book (1906), 87. Also published later as The Devil's Dictionary.
Science quotes on:  |  Electricity (82)  |  Benjamin Franklin (65)  |  Humour (96)

EMBALM, v.t. 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.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Cynic's Word Book (1906), 90. Also published later as The Devil's Dictionary.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)

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.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  84.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (170)  |  Emotion (28)  |  Humour (96)

ETHNOLOGY, n. The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  88.
Science quotes on:  |  Ethnology (5)  |  Humour (96)

EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  93.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (132)  |  Humour (96)

EXTINCTION, n. The raw material out of which theology created the future state.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  94.
Science quotes on:  |  Extinction (38)  |  Humour (96)  |  Theology (21)

FEMALE, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  97.
Science quotes on:  |  Female (10)  |  Humour (96)

FROG, n. A reptile with edible legs
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  110.
Science quotes on:  |  Frog (24)  |  Humour (96)

GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust —to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones of mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  115.
Science quotes on:  |  Geology (145)  |  Humour (96)  |  Strata (15)

GNU, n. An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  119.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)

GOOSE, n. A bird that supplies quills for writing. These, by some occult process of nature, are penetrated and suffused with various degrees of the bird's intellectual energies and emotional character, so that when inked and drawn mechanically across paper by a person called an "author," there results a very fair and accurate transcript of the fowl's thought and feeling. The difference in geese, as discovered by this ingenious method, is considerable: many are found to have only trivial and insignificant powers, but some are seen to be very great geese indeed.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  119-120.
Science quotes on:  |  Goose (4)  |  Humour (96)

GRAVE, n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  122.
Science quotes on:  |  Grave (7)  |  Humour (96)

GRAVITATION, n. The tendency of all bodies to approach one another with a strength proportioned to the quantity of matter they contain—the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength of their tendency to approach one another. This is a lovely and edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, makes B the proof of A.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  123.
Science quotes on:  |  Gravitation (9)  |  Humour (96)

GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  124.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)

GUNPOWDER, n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  124-125.
Science quotes on:  |  Gunpowder (8)  |  Humour (96)

HEART, n. An automatic, muscular blood- pump. Figuratively, this useful organ is said to be the seat of emotions and sentiments—a very pretty fancy which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once universal belief. It is now known that the sentiments and emotions reside in the stomach, being evolved from food by chemical action of the gastric fluid. The exact process by which a beefsteak becomes a feeling—tender or not, according to the age of the animal from which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration through which a caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears as a pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh of sensibility—these things have been patiently ascertained by M. Pasteur, and by him expounded with convincing lucidity. 
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  133-134.
Science quotes on:  |  Digestion (15)  |  Emotion (28)  |  Heart (46)  |  Humour (96)  |  Louis Pasteur (37)  |  Stomach (11)

HIBERNATE, v. i. To pass the winter season in domestic seclusion. There have been many singular popular notions about the hibernation of various animals. Many believe that the bear hibernates during the whole winter and subsists by mechanically sucking its paws. It is admitted that it comes out of its retirement in the spring so lean that it has to try twice before it can cast a shadow. 
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  137.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)

HOMŒOPATHIST, n. The humorist of the medical profession.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  139.
Science quotes on:  |  Homopathy (2)  |  Humour (96)

HOMŒOPATHY, n. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they can 
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  139.
Science quotes on:  |  Homopathy (2)  |  Humour (96)

HURRICANE, n. An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now generally abandoned for the tornado and cyclone. The hurricane is still in popular use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain old- fashioned sea-captains.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  143-144.
Science quotes on:  |  Atmosphere (42)  |  Humour (96)  |  Hurricane (2)

HYDRA, n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  144.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Hydra (2)

IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  148.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Imagination (130)

INSECTIVORA, n.
'See,' cries the chorus of admiring preachers,
'How Providence provides for all His creatures!"'
'His care,' the gnat said, 'even the insects follows: For us
He has provided wrens and swallows.'
[Under pen-name Sempen Railey.]
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  169.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Insect (38)

INVENTOR, n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  173-174.
Science quotes on:  |  Civilization (90)  |  Humour (96)  |  Inventor (25)  |  Lever (7)  |  Spring (17)  |  Wheel (8)

LEAD, n. A heavy blue-gray metal much used ... as a counterpoise to an argument of such weight that it turns the scale of debate the wrong way. An interesting fact in the chemistry of international controversy is that at the point of contact of two patriotisms lead is precipitated in great quantities.
[Referring to bullets.]
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  187.
Science quotes on:  |  Ammunition (2)  |  Humour (96)  |  Lead (33)  |  War (79)

LEARNING, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  188.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Learning (130)

LECTURER, n. One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  188.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Lecturer (4)

LIVER, n. A large red organ thoughtfully provided by nature to be bilious with. The sentiments and emotions which every literary anatomist now knows to haunt the heart were anciently believed to infest the liver; and even Gascoygne, speaking of the emotional side of human nature, calls it "our hepaticall parte." It was at one time considered the seat of life; hence its name— liver, the thing we live with. 
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  195.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Liver (6)

LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion—thus:
Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
Minor Premise: One man can dig a post-hole in sixty seconds; therefore—
Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a post-hole in one second.
This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  196.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Logic (132)

MAGNET, n. Something acted upon by magnetism.
MAGNETISM, n. Something acting upon a magnet.
The two definitions immediately foregoing are condensed from the works of one thousand eminent scientists, who have illuminated the subject with a great white light, to the inexpressible advancement of human knowledge.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  208.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Magnetism (20)

MAGNITUDE, n. Size. Magnitude being purely relative, nothing is large and nothing small. If everything in the universe were increased in bulk one thousand diameters nothing would be any larger than it was before, but if one thing remained unchanged all the others would be larger than they had been. To an understanding familiar with the relativity of magnitude and distance the spaces and masses of the astronomer would be no more impressive than those of the microscopist. For anything we know to the contrary, the visible universe may be a small part of an atom, with its component ions, floating in the life-fluid (luminiferous ether) of some animal. Possibly the wee creatures peopling the corpuscles of our own blood are overcome with the proper emotion when contemplating the unthinkable distance from one of these to another.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  209.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomer (28)  |  Blood (63)  |  Corpuscle (5)  |  Humour (96)  |  Magnitude (14)

MAMMALIA, n. pl. A family of vertebrate animals whose females in a state of nature suckle their young, but when civilized and enlightened put them out to nurse, or use the bottle.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  211.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Mammal (17)

MAN, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  212.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Man (258)  |  Occupation (28)

MEDICINE, n.  A stone flung down the Bowery to kill a dog in Broadway.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  215.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Medicine (185)

MESMERISM, n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  217.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Mesmerism (2)

MIND, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  217.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Humour (96)  |  Mind (272)

MOLECULE, n. The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter. It is distinguished from the corpuscle, also the ultimate, indivisible unit of matter, by a closer resemblance to the atom, also the ultimate, indivisible unit of matter. Three great scientific theories of the structure of the universe are the molecular, the corpuscular and the atomic. A fourth affirms, with Haeckel, the condensation or precipitation of matter from ether—whose existence is proved by the condensation or precipitation. The present trend of scientific thought is toward the theory of ions. The ion differs from the molecule, the corpuscle and the atom in that it is an ion. A fifth theory is held by idiots, but it is doubtful if they know any more about the matter than the others.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  220-221.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Humour (96)  |  Ion (5)  |  Molecule (82)  |  Theory (353)

MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  222.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Monkey (26)

MOUSE, n. An animal which strews its path with fainting women.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  224.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Mouse (16)

MUMMY, n. An ancient Egyptian, formerly in universal use among modern civilized nations as medicine, and now engaged in supplying art with an excellent pigment. He is handy, too, in museums in gratifying the vulgar curiosity that serves to distinguish man from the lower animals.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  226.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Mummy (2)  |  Museum (15)

NEWTONIAN, adj. Pertaining to a philosophy of the universe, invented by Newton, who discovered that an apple will fall to the ground, but was unable to say why. His successors and disciples have advanced so far as to be able to say when.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  228.
Science quotes on:  |  Gravity (59)  |  Humour (96)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)

OBSERVATORY, n. A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses of their predecessors.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  232.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomer (28)  |  Humour (96)  |  Observatory (7)

OCEAN, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man—who has no gills.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  235.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Ocean (56)

OPIATE, n. An unlocked door in the prison of Identity. It leads into the jail yard.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  237.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Prison (3)

OSTRICH, n. A large bird to which (for its sins, doubtless) nature has denied that hinder toe in which so many pious naturalists have seen a conspicuous evidence of design. The absence of a good working pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, the ostrich does not fly.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  241.
Science quotes on:  |  Design (37)  |  Humour (96)  |  Toe (3)  |  Wing (16)

PERSEVERANCE, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  250.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Perseverance (10)  |  Success (114)

PHILOSOPHY, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  251.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Philosophy (132)

PHONOGRAPH, n. An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  251.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Noise (13)  |  Phonograph (4)

PHOTOGRAPH, n. A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  251.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Photograph (14)

PHRENOLOGY, n. The science of picking the pocket through the scalp. It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe with.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  252.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Phrenology (4)

PHYSICIAN, n. One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  252.
Science quotes on:  |  Hope (50)  |  Humour (96)  |  Physician (172)

PLAGUE, n. Nature's fortuitous manifestation of her purposeless objectionableness.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  255-256.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Nature (534)  |  Plague (30)

PLAN, v. t. To bother about the best method of accomplishing an accidental result.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  256.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (25)  |  Humour (96)  |  Plan (40)

POTABLE, n. Suitable for drinking. Water is said to be potable; indeed, some declare it our natural beverage, although even they find it palatable only when suffering from the recurrent disorder known as thirst, for which it is a medicine. Upon nothing has so great and diligent ingenuity been brought to bear in all ages and in all countries, except the most uncivilized, as upon the invention of substitutes for water. To hold that this general aversion to that liquid has no basis in the preservative instinct of the race is to be unscientific—and without science we are as the snakes and toads.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  260-261.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Medicine (185)  |  Thirst (7)  |  Water (122)

PROBOSCIS, n. The rudimentary organ of an elephant which serves him in place of the knife-and-fork that Evolution has as yet denied him.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  267.
Science quotes on:  |  Elephant (5)  |  Humour (96)

PROJECTILE, n. The final arbiter in international disputes. Formerly these disputes were settled by physical contact of the disputants, with such simple arguments as the rudimentary logic of the times could supply —the sword, the spear, and so forth. With the growth of prudence in military affairs the projectile came more and more into favor, and is now held in high esteem by the most courageous. Its capital defect is that it requires personal attendance at the point of propulsion.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  268.
Science quotes on:  |  Ammunition (2)  |  Humour (96)  |  Spear (2)  |  Sword (7)  |  War (79)

PROOF, n. Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two credible witnesses as opposed to that of only one.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  269-270.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Proof (136)

RADIUM, n. A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ that a scientist is a fool with.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  273.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Radium (13)

RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  273.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Railroad (7)

SYLLOGISM, n. A logical formula consisting of a major and a minor assumption and an inconsequent. (See LOGIC.)
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  335.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Logic (132)  |  Syllogism (3)

TELEPHONE, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  341.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Invention (174)  |  Telephone (14)

TELESCOPE, n. A device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. Luckily it is unprovided with a bell summoning us to the sacrifice.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  342.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Telephone (14)  |  Telescope (44)

TRUTH, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing with increasing activity to the end of time.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  352.
Science quotes on:  |  Humour (96)  |  Occupation (28)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Truth (450)

TZETZE, (or TSETSE) FLY, n. An African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature's most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis.)
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  353.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (170)  |  Fly (28)  |  Humour (96)

WEATHER, n. The climate of an hour. A permanent topic of conversation among persons whom it does not interest, but who have inherited the tendency to chatter about it from naked arboreal ancestors whom it keenly concerned. The setting up of official weather bureaus and their maintenance in mendacity prove that even governments are accessible to suasion by the rude forefathers of the jungle.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  362-363.
Science quotes on:  |  Climate (28)  |  Conversation (8)  |  Government (50)  |  Humour (96)  |  Jungle (5)  |  Weather (10)

ZOOLOGY, n. The science and history of the animal kingdom, including its king, the House Fly (Musca maledicta.) The father of Zoology was Aristotle, as is universally conceded, but the name of its mother has not come down to us.
— Ambrose Bierce
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  376.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (101)  |  Fly (28)  |  Humour (96)  |  Zoology (12)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton