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Literature and Ideas

hangman

n.

The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce

An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity have recently been ordered — the first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen.