The Devil's Financial Dictionary

This glossary of financial terms is inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s masterpiece The Devil’s Dictionary, which the great American satirist published sporadically between 1881 and 1906. (View free versions of Bierce’s text here or here.) Like Bierce’s brilliantly cynical definitions, the explanations presented here should not — quite — be taken as literally true. Some of these entries are adapted from articles published previously in Financial History, Money, and The Wall Street Journal.


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T

 

TAX SHELTER, n. A complicated investment that might protect the investor’s income from high taxes but surely will expose it to exorbitant commissions.

 

TICK, n.  A parasitic insect that can host viruses that often inflict neurological damage on humans; also, a single unit of change in a stock price. When markets are open for trading, the two meanings of the word may be indistinguishable.

 

TIP, n. The extreme end of a shark’s fin projecting above the surface of the ocean; by visual analogy, a rumor offered to a naive investor by someone either pretending to understand the market or manipulating it.

 


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