Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary is a fine entertainment. This derivative effort is intended to be at least mildly didactic, while no doubt being a little less amusing. The abuse of language for political effect has been going on a long while, but has accelerated in recent times, with the rise to large-scale dominance of the media by right wing ideologues. Let us all do a little something about it, at least by speaking and writing properly.


The innate behavior of liberal politicians and activists in advocating
for the commonwealth, environmental sustainability or any regulation
of markets.

Of course, the real meaning is the act of dishonest dealing in return
for money or private gain, typically taking advantage of a position of
power. The abuse of the word “corruption” has become typical of Trump
and the Murdoch press. See, e.g.,

Political Correctness

Showing respect and common decency towards minorities or disadvantaged people, especially by leftists; a refusal to demonstrate the manly virtues of machismo, sexism, misogyny, racism and other forms of bigotry.

While the term “politically correct” was used by the left in a self-deprecating way in the 1970s, it has been appropriated by the right wing since to disparage those who supposedly go over the top in avoiding embarrassment to minorities, etc. The term is typically applied in response to someone simply showing ordinary courtesy and decency, revealing the lack thereof in the critic.


Government action to hobble its own ability to protect and promote the public interest, usually promoted on the grounds that government powers are abused and harmful. The latter is often true, especially when in pursuit of “reform”.

To reform something is to improve it, by, for example, removing obstacles to its proper function. But right wing politicians and media apply it when their intent is to undermine or defeat proper function.


Someone who opposes the obscenely rich taking full advantage of their wealth, for example, by wanting to tax them for the welfare of the commonwealth.

In the common usage in the rightwing media, many who endorse regulated capitalist markets are routinely denounced as socialists, e.g., Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders (who, admittedly, falsely labels himself a socialist, without any implied denunciation). But socialists properly understood advocate public ownership and control of the means of production and oppose capitalist markets. Any dictionary will confirm this, but rightwing media commentators are not often found referring to dictionaries or other reliable sources of information.