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The Meaning of Liff (The Meaning of Liff #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,303 ratings  ·  94 reviews
In life and, indeed, in liff, there are many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist. This text uses place names to describe some of these meanings.
Hardcover, 122 pages
Published March 7th 1984 by Random House Value Publishing (first published November 11th 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
When I first encountered this book in a friend's bathroom I definitely thought it was called The Meaning of Life at first glance and this (undoubtedly common) optical aberration made what I discovered inside so much funnier.

This is a wonderfully creative book. It’s a list of definitions which can be read randomly. All the terms are actual places--many being towns in England and America--and the definitions for things and happenings for which there was no single term for beforehand. In other word
...more
Akshay
Oh man I remember this book... it really gave me a load of great laughs!

I have to admit right off that I've always been a HUGE fan of the style and wit of Douglas Adams from the very first chapter I ever read of his famous "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy".
I had finished the series and even the Dirk Gently stories, but then one day in the book store came across this... thing... this weird little book filled with the most bizarre stuff I've read in a while!

The only book this is comparable to in
...more
Tfitoby
There's not much room for books of "humour" in my life, why waste time reading delightfully inventive meanings for those place names that you just cannot believe are real when you could be reading a deep and heartfelt narrative of loss and despair? But Douglas Adams co-created this collection and that's reason enough for anything.

We've all seen and heard of them, place names that cause you to wonder what drugs the founders were taking when they decided Berry Pomeroy (n.) 1. The shape of a gourme
...more
Tim
This book made me go all gallipoli. And it's not the great tosson, so it fits on your bookshelf just nice and kentucky. It's usefulness in life is such that it'll never be just some old ballycumber that lies around, but instead, the first book you reach for when the great wakering sets in.

It also has some quotes from the great writers to illustrate how they have used words from this nifty little dictionary:

"Jasmine yorked politely, loathing him to the depths of her being." Virginia Woolf
Navaneeta
Oct 09, 2011 Navaneeta rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: me and my likes--mad fans of Adams.
Shelves: humour
Some definitions in typical 'Douglese':

AINDERBY STEEPLE (n.)
One who asks you a question with the apparent motive of wanting to hear your
answer, but who cuts short your opening sentence by leaning forward and saying
'and I'll tell you why I ask...' and then talking solidly for the next hour.

BANFF
Pertaining to, or descriptive of, that kind of facial expression which is impossible to
achieve except when having a passport photograph taken.

BELPER
A knob of someone else's chewing gum which you unexpected
...more
Kitty Mulholland
It's always great to read something comical every now and then. It helps prevent me getting stuck in the same genre all the time. I've always admired Douglas Adams' work and, ever since the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, I have been hooked on the humour.
Written in collaboration with John Lloyd, who also writes for the well-loved British panel show QI, hosted by the adorable Stephen Fry, it has a similar humour which I find among some of the most entertaining that British TV has to offer right
...more
Jan-Maat
Sep 21, 2011 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only for fans of John Lloyd and Douglas Adams
Concepts for which as of yet there are no single word definitions are given place names with the aim of getting them out and about and into the English language.

You need to right (or maybe the wrong) type of sense of humour to enjoy this book.

Note that it is a humourous dictionary and not continuous text or something with a plot.
Amy Mckee
Jan 03, 2015 Amy Mckee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to laugh at the little things
Shelves: goodreads-2014
This was a fun book which I thought I would just glance at every now and again but ended up reading in a matter of days.

I'm a bog fan of the hitchhikers guide so I've made it my mission to read some of Adam's other works, the top of my list? The meaning of liff. I really enjoyed this book, it's insightful and full of fun and funny observations that you can't help but relate to your life. Far from becoming dated it seems to change and fit whatever age and year a person decides to pick it up. I f
...more
Rudy Gate
I didn't really like it, but I think it was because of the Czech translation...
Chalchihut
If only I can remember every single word in it.
Zack
Synopsis: Adams & Lloyd set out to define inexpressible but ubiquitous occurrences of late 20th century life.

Thoughts: The simple premise that the authors riff upon is that the scope of human experience is so vast, and yet there are no single words to describe petty annoyances or little triumphs that people undergo every day. For example, we all could probably think of someone we know who is all eager to help once it's clear that all the real work is finished, but why isn't there a simple wo
...more
M.T. McGuire
If you've ever wondered what to call those marks you get on the backs of your legs after you've sat on a wickerwork chair in shorts (kettering) or what to call the wheel on a supermarket trolly which wants to go in a completely different direction to the others (motspur)? Do you need a word to describe the sound of the noise it makes when you break that hymen thing over the top of a new pot of instant coffee with a spoon? Have you ever wondered what those little cheesy bits in the corners of you ...more
Krollo
Bloody brilliant.

There are certain experiences in life that you seem to experience a little too often to ignore completely, but a little too infrequently to actually do anything about. This book is a compendium of those moments - I can guarantee that in certain sections, you will laugh out loud as you realise that the lives we lead are not all too different after all.
Anna
Simply one of the funniest things I've ever read. I just dip in and out of it whenever I want to have a therapeutic laugh, it never fails.
WARNING: do not read in public, eg on trains/waiting rooms/coffee shops etc if you are prone to crying with laughter as you will undoubtedly draw attention to yourself
Anastasia Price
Great to just open at random and start light reading from anywhere. It seems I'm not the only one that thought a) that it was called The Meaning of Life and b) that 'Liff' was a typo. Not what I would usually choose to read; I got it for my birthday from a friend. But it has proven itself in my eyes!
Alessia
LIFF (n.): a book, the contents of which are totally belied by its cover. For istance, any book the dust jacket of which bears the words "This book will change your life".

Geniale tentativo di Adams di trovare un nome per ogni cosa, situazione, atteggiamento, etc etc etc che un nome ancora non ha! Il tutto realizzato come un simpatico vocabolario con una copertina elegantissima ... il tutto è molto elegante, in netto contrasto con la natura ironica del volumetto.

Ad esempio, Kirby (small but repu
...more
Kathy Doll
Dec 08, 2014 Kathy Doll rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathy by: Brian McCall
Reading this book while working at Neu-Art Signs in Toronto. Brian McCall was reading over my shoulder and we were both laughing so hard, tears running out, gasping for air...
Oceana2602
Apr 03, 2008 Oceana2602 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone, fans
Another book about words that I didn't really read, but pick up to read through randomly from time to time. This one is by Douglas Adams, so my fannish self would have bought it even if it wasn't good, and it contains such useful definitions as

"Tolob - A crease or fold in an underblanket, the removal of which involves getting out of bed and largely remaking it" (a common occurence in my bedroom, now that it is getting colder)
and
"Oughterby . Someone you don't want to invite to a party but whom
...more
Catherine
Totally silly, useless and pythonesque dictionary. Also hilarious. Goodreaders will appreciate the words Ahenny and Ballycumber.
Gavin Williams
Marvelous, silly, ridiculous fun with the English language, as only can be had with the English language.
Jennifer Evans
A giggly tiny coffee table book of definitions. Always good for a laugh!
Isman
An ingenious solution.

For years, people have been complaining that nowadays we only use a tiny fraction of English vocabulary. On the other hand, there are words we need to fit into our brain, because it's important (names of cities, streets, etc.)

Why not combine them both? Drop the unused words. Then add approriate definitions to the names of places.

For instance:
WHAPLODE DROVE (n.)
A homicidal golf stroke.

It'll even spice up your pillow talk!

"Honey, was it good for you as it was good for me?
...more
Emily Davies
This was cute, for what it was.
Jason
Oct 02, 2007 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like words
I've read this book for years (while sitting on the john, mostly). Recently my friends expressed disgust at this practice and now refuse to pick up the volume when visiting. This, of course, is their loss, because this book is the next best dictionary after the OED. Impress your friends (or alienate them, depending) by displaying vocabulary for the simplest moments in daily life that never had a one-word expression before. Probably also a fun game to play while drinking (that's how the book was ...more
BMK
Jul 24, 2014 BMK rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Utter genius.
Alexis
Love Douglas Adams. Fun for what it is. But that's about it.
Geoff Gander
Finally, a use for place names like "Middle Wallop", "Agglethorpe", and "Aird of Sleat"!
Matt Britton
Totally hilarious, I read the whole thing straight through during a slow day at work. If you don't enjoy the humor of Hitchhiker's guide (like my poor girlfriend who will have to listen to me spouting favorite definitions for the next few days), then this may not be for you. Douglas Adams is a master of incongruity, of a deeply absurd, lightly terrifying kind of humor (terrifying when you actually reflect on how real many of the people he names in here actually are).
Lisa
I was given this book as a gift by one of Norway's most infamous black metal sons. Life's like that sometimes.

And what a joy it is, for them that likes giggling: and chucking: and guffawing: and sometimes laughing like a drain, in public, on trains.

Its genius is simple - use bizarre place names to describe all those things in life that we have no words for. Perfect bog book, begs to be read and read and read again.



Lindsay
This is a delightful little books full of wonderful meanings. It's amazing how many of them are relevant, and how often I can imagine thinking "Now what's the word for that from that Meaning of Liff book". Unfortunately there is no word in there for "searching for a word when you know the meaning, and possibly gesturing with silly hand movements at the same time". Possibly in the sequel?
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Douglas Noël Adams was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Hitchhiker's began on radio, and developed into a "trilogy" of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was comp ...more
More about Douglas Adams...

Other Books in the Series

The Meaning of Liff (3 books)
  • The Deeper Meaning of Liff
  • Afterliff: The New Dictionary Of Things There Should Be Words For
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1) The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #1-5) The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker's Guide, #2) Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker's Guide, #3) So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker's Guide, #4)

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“DETCHANT (n.)
That part of a hymn (usually a few notes at the end of a verse) where the tune goes so high or low that you suddenly have to change octaves to accommodate it.”
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