I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language,
ICHOR, n. A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of
Fair Venus, speared by Diomed,
Restrained the raging chief and said:
"Behold, rash mortal, whom you've bled --
Your soul's stained white with ichorshed!"
ICONOCLAST, n. A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are
IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in
IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of
IGNORAMUS, n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge
Dumble was an ignoramus,
Mumble was for learning famous.
Mumble said one day to Dumble:
"Ignorance should be more humble.
Not a spark have you of knowledge
That was got in any college."
Dumble said to Mumble: "Truly
You're self-satisfied unduly.
Of things in college I'm denied
A knowledge -- you of all beside."
ILLUMINATI, n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the
ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and
IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint
IMBECILITY, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting
IMMIGRANT, n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better
IMMODEST, adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with
There was once a man in Ispahan
Ever and ever so long ago,
And he had a head, the phrenologists said,
That fitted him for a show.
For his modesty's bump was so large a lump
(Nature, they said, had taken a freak)
That its summit stood far above the wood
Of his hair, like a mountain peak.
So modest a man in all Ispahan,
Over and over again they swore --
So humble and meek, you would vainly seek;
None ever was found before.
Meantime the hump of that awful bump
Into the heavens contrived to get
To so great a height that they called the wight
The man with the minaret.
There wasn't a man in all Ispahan
Prouder, or louder in praise of his chump:
With a tireless tongue and a brazen lung
He bragged of that beautiful bump
Till the Shah in a rage sent a trusty page
Bearing a sack and a bow-string too,
And that gentle child explained as he smiled:
"A little present for you."
The saddest man in all Ispahan,
Sniffed at the gift, yet accepted the same.
"If I'd lived," said he, "my humility
Had given me deathless fame!"
IMMORAL, adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard
A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed
Would be right proud
Eternally to die for.
IMPALE, v.t. In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains
IMPARTIAL, adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage
IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between
IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.
IMPOSITION, n. The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on
"Lo! by the laying on of hands,"
Say parson, priest and dervise,
"We consecrate your cash and lands
To ecclesiastical service.
No doubt you'll swear till all is blue
At such an imposition. Do."
IMPOSTOR n. A rival aspirant to public honors.
His tale he told with a solemn face
And a tender, melancholy grace.
Improbable 'twas, no doubt,
When you came to think it out,
But the fascinated crowd
Their deep surprise avowed
And all with a single voice averred
'Twas the most amazing thing they'd heard --
All save one who spake never a word,
But sat as mum
As if deaf and dumb,
Serene, indifferent and unstirred.
Then all the others turned to him
And scrutinized him limb from limb --
Scanned him alive;
But he seemed to thrive
And tranquiler grow each minute,
As if there were nothing in it.
"What! what!" cried one, "are you not amazed
At what our friend has told?" He raised
Soberly then his eyes and gazed
In a natural way
And proceeded to say,
As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:
"O no -- not at all; I'm a liar myself."
IMPROVIDENCE, n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues
IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.
INADMISSIBLE, adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain
But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily
INAUSPICIOUSLY, adv. In an unpromising manner, the auspices being
A Roman slave appeared one day
Before the Augur. "Tell me, pray,
If --" here the Augur, smiling, made
A checking gesture and displayed
His open palm, which plainly itched,
For visibly its surface twitched.
A denarius (the Latin nickel)
Successfully allayed the tickle,
And then the slave proceeded: "Please
Inform me whether Fate decrees
Success or failure in what I
To-night (if it be dark) shall try.
Its nature? Never mind -- I think
'Tis writ on this" -- and with a wink
Which darkened half the earth, he drew
Another denarius to view,
Its shining face attentive scanned,
Then slipped it into the good man's hand,
Who with great gravity said: "Wait
While I retire to question Fate."
That holy person then withdrew
His scared clay and, passing through
The temple's rearward gate, cried "Shoo!"
Waving his robe of office. Straight
Each sacred peacock and its mate
(Maintained for Juno's favor) fled
With clamor from the trees o'erhead,
Where they were perching for the night.
The temple's roof received their flight,
For thither they would always go,
When danger threatened them below.
Back to the slave the Augur went:
"My son, forecasting the event
By flight of birds, I must confess
The auspices deny success."
That slave retired, a sadder man,
Abandoning his secret plan --
Which was (as well the craft seer
Had from the first divined) to clear
The wall and fraudulently seize
On Juno's poultry in the trees.
INCOME, n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of
INCOMPATIBILITY, n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly
INCOMPOSSIBLE, adj. Unable to exist if something else exists. Two
INCUBUS, n. One of a race of highly improper demons who, though
incubae and succubae, see the Liber Demonorum of Protassus
(Paris, 1328), which contains much curious information that would be
Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself --
INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
INDECISION, n. The chief element of success; "for whereas," saith Sir
"Your prompt decision to attack," said Genera Grant on a certain
"Yes, sir," answered the victorious subordinate, "it is a great
"Do you mean to say that's what you did this time?"
"Yes, General; but for Heaven's sake don't reprimand me: I
INDIFFERENT, adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.
"You tiresome man!" cried Indolentio's wife,
"You've grown indifferent to all in life."
"Indifferent?" he drawled with a slow smile;
"I would be, dear, but it is not worth while."
Apuleius M. Gokul
INDIGESTION, n. A disease which the patient and his friends
INDISCRETION, n. The guilt of woman.
INEXPEDIENT, adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests.
INFANCY, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth,
INFERIAE,n. [Latin] Among the Greeks and Romans, sacrifices for
INFIDEL, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian
INFLUENCE, n. In politics, a visionary quo given in exchange for a
INFALAPSARIAN, n. One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have
Two theologues once, as they wended their way
To chapel, engaged in colloquial fray --
An earnest logomachy, bitter as gall,
Concerning poor Adam and what made him fall.
"'Twas Predestination," cried one -- "for the Lord
Decreed he should fall of his own accord."
"Not so -- 'twas Free will," the other maintained,
"Which led him to choose what the Lord had ordained."
So fierce and so fiery grew the debate
That nothing but bloodshed their dudgeon could sate;
So off flew their cassocks and caps to the ground
And, moved by the spirit, their hands went round.
Ere either had proved his theology right
By winning, or even beginning, the fight,
A gray old professor of Latin came by,
A staff in his hand and a scowl in his eye,
And learning the cause of their quarrel (for still
As they clumsily sparred they disputed with skill
Of foreordination freedom of will)
Cried: "Sirrahs! this reasonless warfare compose:
Atwixt ye's no difference worthy of blows.
The sects ye belong to -- I'm ready to swear
Ye wrongly interpret the names that they bear.
You -- Infralapsarian son of a clown! --
Should only contend that Adam slipped down;
While you -- you Supralapsarian pup! --
Should nothing aver but that Adam slipped up.
It's all the same whether up or down
You slip on a peel of banana brown.
Even Adam analyzed not his blunder,
But thought he had slipped on a peal of thunder!
INGRATE, n. One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise
"All men are ingrates," sneered the cynic. "Nay,"
The good philanthropist replied;
"I did great service to a man one day
Who never since has cursed me to repay,
"Ho!" cried the cynic, "lead me to him straight --
With veneration I am overcome,
And fain would have his blessing." "Sad your fate --
He cannot bless you, for AI grieve to state
This man is dumb."
INJURY, n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.
INJUSTICE, n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others
INK, n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and
INNATE, adj. Natural, inherent -- as innate ideas, that is to say,
IN'ARDS, n. The stomach, heart, soul and other bowels. Many eminent
INSCRIPTION, n. Something written on another thing. Inscriptions are
"In the sky my soul is found,
And my body in the ground.
By and by my body'll rise
To my spirit in the skies,
Soaring up to Heaven's gate.
"Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862,
"Affliction sore long time she boar,
Phisicians was in vain,
Till Deth released the dear deceased
And left her a remain.
Gone to join Ananias in the regions of bliss."
"The clay that rests beneath this stone
As Silas Wood was widely known.
Now, lying here, I ask what good
It was to let me be S. Wood.
O Man, let not ambition trouble you,
Is the advice of Silas W."
"Richard Haymon, of Heaven. Fell to Earth Jan. 20, 1807, and had
"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."
INSURANCE, n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player
INSURANCE AGENT: My dear sir, that is a fine house -- pray let me
HOUSE OWNER: With pleasure. Please make the annual premium so
low that by the time when, according to the tables of your
actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have
paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
INSURANCE AGENT: O dear, no -- we could not afford to do that.
We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
HOUSE OWNER: How, then, can I afford that?
INSURANCE AGENT: Why, your house may burn down at any time.
There was Smith's house, for example, which --
HOUSE OWNER: Spare me -- there were Brown's house, on the
contrary, and Jones's house, and Robinson's house, which --
INSURANCE AGENT: Spare me!
HOUSE OWNER: Let us understand each other. You want me to pay
you money on the supposition that something will occur
previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence. In
other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last
so long as you say that it will probably last.
INSURANCE AGENT: But if your house burns without insurance it
will be a total loss.
HOUSE OWNER: Beg your pardon -- by your own actuary's tables I
shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I
would otherwise have paid to you -- amounting to more than the
face of the policy they would have bought. But suppose it to
burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are
based. If I could not afford that, how could you if it were
INSURANCE AGENT: O, we should make ourselves whole from our
luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay your
HOUSE OWNER: And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their
losses? Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before
they have paid you as much as you must pay them? The case
stands this way: you expect to take more money from your
clients than you pay to them, do you not?
INSURANCE AGENT: Certainly; if we did not --
HOUSE OWNER: I would not trust you with my money. Very well
then. If it is certain, with reference to the whole body of
your clients, that they lose money on you it is probable,
with reference to any one of them, that he will. It is
these individual probabilities that make the aggregate
INSURANCE AGENT: I will not deny it -- but look at the figures in
this pamph --
HOUSE OWNER: Heaven forbid!
INSURANCE AGENT: You spoke of saving the premiums which you would
otherwise pay to me. Will you not be more likely to squander
them? We offer you an incentive to thrift.
HOUSE OWNER: The willingness of A to take care of B's money is
not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you
command esteem. Deign to accept its expression from a
INSURRECTION, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure
INTENTION, n. The mind's sense of the prevalence of one set of
INTERPRETER, n. One who enables two persons of different languages to
INTERREGNUM, n. The period during which a monarchical country is
INTIMACY, n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for
Two Seidlitz powders, one in blue
And one in white, together drew
And having each a pleasant sense
Of t'other powder's excellence,
Forsook their jackets for the snug
Enjoyment of a common mug.
So close their intimacy grew
One paper would have held the two.
To confidences straight they fell,
Less anxious each to hear than tell;
Then each remorsefully confessed
To all the virtues he possessed,
Acknowledging he had them in
So high degree it was a sin.
The more they said, the more they felt
Their spirits with emotion melt,
Till tears of sentiment expressed
Their feelings. Then they effervesced!
So Nature executes her feats
Of wrath on friends and sympathetes
The good old rule who don't apply,
That you are you and I am I.
INTRODUCTION, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to
make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an
incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the
liberty to introduce persons to one another without first
ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and
the pursuit of another's happiness with a running pack of
INVENTOR, n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels,
IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
ITCH, n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.