Whence do Stockholm Syndrome and Broken Window Theory derive their names? What is the common root of aristocracy and democracy? Who gets diagnosed with Anarchia and Drapetomania? How did voting kill Edgar Allen Poe, and why is a crater on the dark side of the moon named for the man who blew up the Tsar? Alternately scathing and sublime, Contradictionary pulls back the curtain from the war within every word, revealing the conflict behind the façade of the commonplace.

In the tradition of The Devil’s Dictionary, our Contradictionary assembles a wide range of wit and whimsy. This is no mere miscellany, but a lighthearted work of serious literature, concentrating a wealth of ideas and history into aphorisms and anecdotes.

word of the week / December 15th, 2013


In Delhi, the poor must walk everywhere, pushing through the crowds that throng the sidewalks—and dwell on them. Here, one sees poverty close up: festering injuries, untreated illnesses, chronic malnourishment, despair and desperation. Those with a little money in their pockets can ride in a rickshaw or taxi, rendering the streets a less troubling blur. The truly wealthy move in limousines and private airplanes from one walled bubble to another (see Mediation), shielded from everything so they can speak unironically of investment opportunities while millions go hungry; as their vehicles belch exhaust into the outside world, they literally breathe different air than the unfortunates around them.

Contrary to bourgeois mythology, the greater a person’s wealth and privilege, the less likely it is that he or she will be well informed. Privilege means insulation from the effects of one’s own actions as well as other inconveniences; often, those who contribute the most to suffering and devastation are the least aware of it. Who knows more about waste treatment facilities—the people who discuss them in boardrooms, or the ones who live in their shadow?

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Tech specs

Printing: Faux-black-leather vinyl cover with gold foil stamp, and two colors (black & sepia) with full bleeds throughout.

Perfectbound w/ PUR glue

Weight: 7.7 ounces

Size: 4.25" x 5.5" x .735"

Pages: 320 + cover

Definitions: 519

Words: 45,478

Illustrations: 64

Photographs: 20