The Cynic's Dictionary
by Rick Bayan
ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION: Procreation without recreation.
BOOKCASE: A piece of furniture used in America to house bowling trophies and
BULIMIA: Retched excess.
CHIC: Considered smart without the deadening implication of intelligence.
CLIQUE: A group of insiders who greet outsiders with their backsides; a
closed circle of asses.
CONSULTANT: A jobless person who shows executives how to work.
DENTURES: Two rows of artificial ivories that may be removed periodically to
frighten one's grandchildren or provide accompaniment to Spanish
DNA: A complex organic molecule characterized as the building block of life
and appropriately shaped like a spiral staircase to nowhere.
ERUDITE: Exhibiting a degree of book learning fatal to success in any
business or romantic enterprise.
FIBER: Edible wood-pulp said to aid digestion and prolong life, so that we
might enjoy another six or eight years in which to consume wood-pulp.
FUNERAL HOME: A stately manse occupied by transients who continually receive
visitors but lack the energy and inclination to entertain them.
GENETIC ENGINEERING: Tampering with chromosomes so that science might develop
a new miracle cure or a rabbit that plays the banjo.
HIP: Smartly attuned to the latest cutting-edge cliches.
JOB: A state of employment everyone wants but few look forward to on a Monday
LAWYER: A professional advocate hired to bend the law on behalf of a paying
client; for this reason considered the most suitable background for
entry into politics.
LECHER: A stud with liver spots.
LOOTING: A public shopping spree generously sponsored by local merchants in
the wake of a riot.
LOTTERY: The equivalent of betting that the next pope will be from Duluth, or
that the parrot in the pet store window speaks Flemish.
MATH ANXIETY: An intense lifelong fear of two trains approaching each other
at speeds of 60 and 80 mph.
MUGGER: A benevolent citizen of the streets who frequently spares the lives
of total strangers in exchange for any cash and valuables in their
NEGOTIATING: The art of persuading your opponent to take the nice shiny
copper penny and give you the wrinkled old paper money.
NEUROTIC: Sane but unhappy about it.
OBITUARY: A final summation of our lives that, for most of us, occupies about
three inches of space in what will shortly become cage liner for our
POSITIVE THINKING: Self-improvement through self-deception.
QUALITY OF LIFE: What an industrialized nation is said to offer when enough
of its citizens are suffering from terminal stress.
REVOLUTIONARY: An oppressed person wating for the opportunity to become an
SHALLOWNESS: The root cause of chronic good health, high school popularity,
appearance on the fiction bestseller lists, and gainful employment
on local TV news broadcasts.
STAR: A performer who makes more than his or her agent. Also SUPERSTAR: A
performer who makes more than Guatemala.
TABOO: Any strict cultural prohibition that, when breached, causes everyone
in the group to gasp; e.g., cannibalism, public nudity, serving fried
pork rinds at a Hasidic wedding, or answering the question "How are
you?" in the negative.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The usual alternative to overwork.
URINAL: The one place where all men are peers.
VIRGIN: A young innocent who in former times was sacrificed to the gods but
who now merely lives in disgrace.
WAKE: 1. A convivial soiree with a preserved corpse in the room. 2. What the
mourners would be visibly startled to see the corpse do, especially
those expecting a sizable inheritance.
X-CHROMOSOME: A genetic double-cross that empowers women with the ability to
bear children and reserves for men the right to be color-blind
ZOMBIE: A mirthless creature beloved by teenage horror movie fans and those
in charge of the hiring at accounting firms.
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