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The Devil’s Dictionary – “U”

Posted by eGZact on October 26, 2007

UBIQUITY, n. The gift or power of being in all places at one time,

but not in all places at all times, which is omnipresence, an

attribute of God and the luminiferous ether only. This important

distinction between ubiquity and omnipresence was not clear to the

mediaeval Church and there was much bloodshed about it. Certain

Lutherans, who affirmed the presence everywhere of Christ’s body were

known as Ubiquitarians. For this error they were doubtless damned,

for Christ’s body is present only in the eucharist, though that

sacrament may be performed in more than one place simultaneously. In

recent times ubiquity has not always been understood — not even by

Sir Boyle Roche, for example, who held that a man cannot be in two

places at once unless he is a bird.

UGLINESS, n. A gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue

without humility.

ULTIMATUM, n. In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to


Having received an ultimatum from Austria, the Turkish Ministry

met to consider it.

“O servant of the Prophet,” said the Sheik of the Imperial Chibouk

to the Mamoosh of the Invincible Army, “how many unconquerable

soldiers have we in arms?”

“Upholder of the Faith,” that dignitary replied after examining

his memoranda, “they are in numbers as the leaves of the forest!”

“And how many impenetrable battleships strike terror to the hearts

of all Christian swine?” he asked the Imaum of the Ever Victorious


“Uncle of the Full Moon,” was the reply, “deign to know that they

are as the waves of the ocean, the sands of the desert and the stars

of Heaven!”

For eight hours the broad brow of the Sheik of the Imperial

Chibouk was corrugated with evidences of deep thought: he was

calculating the chances of war. Then, “Sons of angels,” he said, “the

die is cast! I shall suggest to the Ulema of the Imperial Ear that he

advise inaction. In the name of Allah, the council is adjourned.”

UN-AMERICAN, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.

UNCTION, n. An oiling, or greasing. The rite of extreme unction

consists in touching with oil consecrated by a bishop several parts of

the body of one engaged in dying. Marbury relates that after the rite

had been administered to a certain wicked English nobleman it was

discovered that the oil had not been properly consecrated and no other

could be obtained. When informed of this the sick man said in anger:

“Then I’ll be damned if I die!”

“My son,” said the priest, “this is what we fear.”

UNDERSTANDING, n. A cerebral secretion that enables one having it to

know a house from a horse by the roof on the house. Its nature and

laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke, who rode a house, and

Kant, who lived in a horse.

His understanding was so keen

That all things which he’d felt, heard, seen,

He could interpret without fail

If he was in or out of jail.

He wrote at Inspiration’s call

Deep disquisitions on them all,

Then, pent at last in an asylum,

Performed the service to compile ’em.

So great a writer, all men swore,

They never had not read before.

Jorrock Wormley

UNITARIAN, n. One who denies the divinity of a Trinitarian.

UNIVERSALIST, n. One who forgoes the advantage of a Hell for persons

of another faith.

URBANITY, n. The kind of civility that urban observers ascribe to

dwellers in all cities but New York. Its commonest expression is

heard in the words, “I beg your pardon,” and it is not consistent with

disregard of the rights of others.

The owner of a powder mill

Was musing on a distant hill —

Something his mind foreboded —

When from the cloudless sky there fell

A deviled human kidney! Well,

The man’s mill had exploded.

His hat he lifted from his head;

“I beg your pardon, sir,” he said;

“I didn’t know ’twas loaded.”


USAGE, n. The First Person of the literary Trinity, the Second and

Third being Custom and Conventionality. Imbued with a decent

reverence for this Holy Triad an industrious writer may hope to

produce books that will live as long as the fashion.

UXORIOUSNESS, n. A perverted affection that has strayed to one’s own


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