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The Meaning of Liff #1

The Meaning of Liff

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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.

191 pages, Paperback

First published November 11, 1983

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About the author

Douglas Adams

82 books21.6k followers
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 completed after Adams' death. The series has also been adapted for live theatre using various scripts; the earliest such productions used material newly written by Adams. He was known to some fans as Bop Ad (after his illegible signature), or by his initials "DNA".

In addition to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams wrote or co-wrote three stories of the science fiction television series Doctor Who and served as Script Editor during the seventeenth season. His other written works include the Dirk Gently novels, and he co-wrote two Liff books and Last Chance to See, itself based on a radio series. Adams also originated the idea for the computer game Starship Titanic, which was produced by a company that Adams co-founded, and adapted into a novel by Terry Jones. A posthumous collection of essays and other material, including an incomplete novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

His fans and friends also knew Adams as an environmental activist and a lover of fast cars, cameras, the Macintosh computer, and other "techno gizmos".

Toward the end of his life he was a sought-after lecturer on topics including technology and the environment.

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5 stars
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996 (23%)
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46 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 168 reviews
Profile Image for Joshua Nomen-Mutatio.
333 reviews873 followers
December 4, 2009
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 words it's a list of observations of "the little things" but not in a groan-inducing early 90's Seinfeld stand-up comedy way whatsoever. It's like an intelligent, irreverent, childlike-curiosity-driven, British version of the "Didja ever notice when...", "...airplane peanuts...", etc, tiresome bullshit routine we all know, loathe, and were sick of mocking a decade ago. It combines that basic style of observational humor with an eye for the truly tiny details and a sensitive finger on the pulse of absurdity lurking behind, well, most things in daily life.

E.g. at random:

A point made for the seventh time to somebody who insists that they know exactly what you mean but clearly hasn’t got the faintest idea.

OSHKOSH (n., vb.)
The noise made by someone who has just been grossly flattered and is trying to make light of it.

A frilly spare-toilet-roll-cosy.

Small brass wind instrument used for summoning Vikings to lunch when they’re off on their longships, playing.

OBWESTRY (abs.n.)
Bloody-minded determination on part of a storyteller to continue a story which both the teller and the listeners know has become desperately tedious.

Someone you don’t want to invite to a party but whom you know you have to as a matter of duty.

OUNDLE (vb.)
To walk along leaning sideways, with one arm hanging limp and dragging one leg behind the other. Most commonly used by actors in amateur production of Richard III, or by people carrying a heavy suitcase in one hand.

OZARK (n.)
One who offers to help just after all the work has been done.

The melodious whistling, chanting and humming tone of the milwaukee can be heard whenever a public lavatory is entered. It is the way the occupants of the cubicles have of telling you there’s no lock on their door and you can’t come in.

NAZEING (participial vb.)
The rather unconvincing noises of pretended interest which an adult has to make when brought a small dull object for admiration by a child.

Part of traditional mating rite. During the first hot day of spring, all the men in the tube start giving up their seats to ladies and straphanging. The purpose of pitsligo is for them to demonstrate their manhood by displaying the wet patches under their arms.

PLEELEY (adj.)
Descriptive of a drunk person’s attempt to be endearing.

To relate an amusing story to someone without remembering that it was they who told it to you in the first place.

The (pointless) knob on top of a war memorial.

Read ABOUT it here.


Read the entire thing online here.

"In Life*, there are many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist.

On the other hand, the world is littererd with thousands of spare words which spend their time doing nothing but loafing about on signposts pointing at places.

Our job, as wee see it, is to get these words dow off the signposts and into the mouths of babes and sucklings and so on, where they can start earning their keep in everyday conversation and make a more positive contribution to society.

*And, indeed, in Liff.

-The Authors
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,535 reviews1,790 followers
May 27, 2019
The Meaning of Liff is a Fictionary concepts for which as of yet there are no single words to sum them up are given place names with the aim of getting them out and about and into the English language.

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

Note that it is a humorous dictionary and not a continuous text or something with a plot. Not that Mr Adams was a huge friend of the plot, if he said hello to a plot and held out his arms open to it, then one could be sure that it was with the idea in his mind of tripping it up and sending it sprawling towards the dog's bed.

I am 73.65% sure that I got this from the second hand book sale stall which weekly would be put out for our temptation in the student's union ballroom on trestle tables by a fairly washed out looking bloke who drove around the universities of middle England, out of the kindest of his heart offering students the opportunity to part with their money - for is it not written that money is the root of all evil? Or maybe I got it somewhere entirely different, eventually I parted company with the book for we are all wanderers through this wide and wicked world - particular the books among us which wander, given a chance, more than most..
Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
686 reviews567 followers
November 27, 2020
71st book of 2020.

I actually bought this from a wonderful bookshop in my University City whilst I was living and studying there several years ago. Naturally, I spent some time reading some of the words out, and my housemate and I tried to incorporate them into our vocabulary, though the only one that stuck was:

Scullet n.
The last teaspoon in the washing up.

But, because this is a difficult time, I have sat down and read the whole book, and here are some of the ones that jumped out at me, but honestly there are many more. Adams was a genius.

Bathel vb.
To pretend to have read the book under discussion when in fact you’ve only seen the TV series.

Blithbury n.
A look someone gives you which indicates that they’re much too drunk to have understood anything you’ve said to them in the last twenty minutes.

Firebag n.
A remark intended to cue applause at a Tory party conference.

Lemvig n.
A person who can be relied upon to be doing worse than you.

Thrupp vb.
To hold a ruler on one end of a desk and make the other end go bbddbbddbbrrbrrddrr.

Trispen n.
A form of intelligent grass. It grows a single, tough stalk and makes its home on lawns. When it sees the lawnmower coming it lies down and pops up again after it has gone by.

Ventnor n.
One who, having been visited as a child by a mysterious gypsy lady, is gifted with the strange power of being able to operate the air-nozzles above aeroplane seats.

Wimbledon n.
The last drop which, no matter how much you shake it, always goes down your trouser leg.

Woking ptcpl.vb.
Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for.
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,467 reviews121 followers
September 11, 2017
I think that the only reason I put off reading this book for so long is that this is the last thing I'll ever read of the amazing Douglas Adams. There's plenty of books and scraps to his name that are 'based on an idea for a draft of a shopping list' and I'm sure I'll get to them eventually. But this is pure Douglas and that should be enough if you still harbor doubts.

No review of "Liff" is complete without a few examples, so please, accompany me in the enjoyment of the definitely missing words of:

ABILENE - Descriptive of the pleasing coolness on the reverse side of the pillow.

ESHER - One of these push taps installed in public washrooms enabling the user to wash their trousers without actually getting into the basin. The most powerful esher of recent years was 'damped down' by Red Astair after an incredible sixty-eight days' fight in Manchester's Piccadilly Station.

I have a couple that you are most welcome to guess how I came to note especially:

SHOEBURYNESS (abs.n.) The vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else's bottom.

MOFFAT (n. tailoring term) That part of your coat which is designed to be sat on by the person next to you on the bus.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters in the air, here's to Douglas.

Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,937 reviews427 followers
January 8, 2016
Only on page 11 and find that I can safely and assuredly rate 'The Meaning of Liff' 5 out of 5. Pure humour, pure quintessential Britishness and pure, unadulterated Douglas Adams.
Profile Image for Akshay.
Author 9 books11 followers
October 12, 2011
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 any way is of course the dictionary, which in the words of the great E. Blackadder is, "...the most pointless book since How To Learn French was translated into French."

The Meaning of Liff on the other hand is a rip-roaring and riotous read that does that I think every single one of us would love to do - give words to things other then just the same-old blah-blah mundanities, bring meaning to the things that truly need it! For example:
Alcoy (adj.): Wanting to be bullied into having another drink.
Mugeary (n.): (Medical) The substance from which the unpleasant little yellow globules in the corners of a sleepy person's eyes are made.
Sneem (n.): Particular kind of frozen smile bestowed on a small child by a parent in mixed company when question, 'Mummy, what's this?' appear to require the answer, 'Er... it's a rubber johnny, darling.'
Willimantic (adj.): Of a person whose heart is in the wrong place (i.e. between their legs).

There was another one about a protector you wear when picking thistles in a kilt, but couldn't remember/find that one at the moment!
But all jokes aside - this is another excellent example of the creativity and humour that was such a defining feature and part of everything that Adams did and that made him a global favourite writer. Highly recommended for any and all fans of his work and sense of humour - and also the appetite for something a little different (because believe me, it is!).

And for anyone that was not happy with my choice of descriptions for the dictionary, allow me to retort: "Oh, I'm sorry, sir. I'm anispeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation."

Cheers and good day folks, till next time!
Profile Image for Tim.
114 reviews33 followers
May 11, 2013
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
Profile Image for Karnika Kapoor.
54 reviews85 followers
February 10, 2017
I am a huge Douglas Adams's fan! and frankly, I will sit and read even a "liff" by him. It is amusing and nostalgic. Surprisingly made me realize how small things have changed over time(way of living). Anyone who has conscious memories of mid-1990's or past will be able to relate to most of the incidents. I enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Janne Paananen.
985 reviews29 followers
August 6, 2018
"HITURA (s.)
Mikä tahansa radiosta kuultu musiikkikappale, jota on kuunneltava hyvin tarkkaan voidakseen päätellä onko kyseessä mainosralli vai oikea levy. Hituroiden lisääntyminen on toinen keskeisistä syistä siihen, että ihmisten kiinnostus rock-musiikkia kohtaan on romahtanut. Toinen on Rod Stewart."

Douglas Adamsin ja John Lloydin hirtehisen "Meaning of Liffin" suomenkielinen sovitus on varsin nerokas tekele. Kyseisen teoksen suomentaminen sellaisenaan olisikin liki mahdottomuus, sillä kirjassa esitellään paikannimiä ja niille uudet merkitykset. Tyyliin: Hartola (s.): lyhyt, mutta järkähtämättömän vakava kiitosrukous, jolla luostarissa siunataan voileipäkeksit ennen teehetkeä.

Elimäen tarkoitus kannattaa nauttia pieninä erinä kerrallaan, jottei pääse syntymään puutumista. Parhaimmillaan lukukokemus oli koko perheen kanssa jaettua röhönaurua. Paikannimet selityksineen on aakkosjärjestyksessä ja kirjaimen vaihtuessa näytetään kartalta, missä paikannimet sijaitsevat. Lopussa on myös temaattisesti rakennettu hakemisto paikannimistä. Hyvin monen nimen kohdalla mietin, että onko oikeasti Suomessa sen nimistä paikkaa (esimerkiksi Muhlu, Römppee, Tönnö, Syllödä tai Helsinki ;-).
Profile Image for Eustachio.
692 reviews57 followers
February 1, 2017
Da tenere a portata di mano e sfogliare quando capita alla ricerca della parola adatta per ogni occasione. Nonostante per apprezzare alcune parole bisognerebbe essere inglesi, Adams e Lloyd individuano cose, atteggiamenti, situazioni e pensieri in cui tutti si possono immedesimare: le risate suscitate dalle foto sui passaporti (Happas), il vago fastidio quando ci si siede in un posto già scaldato da qualcun altro (Shoeburyness), il pezzo di carta o simili usato per bilanciare un tavolo o una sedia traballante (Ludlow), il modo in cui si sta in piedi quando si esaminano le librerie degli altri (Ahenny) e così via.
La sorpresa di questo dizionario — che spiega anche perché non sia stato tradotto in italiano — è che le parole in sé non sono state inventate, ma provengono da posti di tutto il mondo. La logica conseguenza è che gli autori hanno prima trovato nomi curiosi e poi si sono inventati una definizione. È così che ho scoperto che Memus (il trucchetto per ricordarsi qual è la destra e qual è la sinistra) è un paesino in Scozia, o che Prungle (fingere di essere orgogliosi di essere single) per quanto sembri un neologismo sincratico tra "proud" e "single" in realtà è una località in Australia.

Segue il mio umile tentativo di dare un nome a concetti che mi sono venuti in mente in questi giorni. Al contrario di Adams e Lloyd, però, le località scelte sono quasi completamente a caso.

Rapido recupero del libro/dei libri dietro il prossimo film/telefilm del momento.

Antica arte praticata generalmente su Twitter da chi ti segue solo per guadagnare un nuovo follower. Che tu ricambi il follow o meno, questa persona ti unfollowerà nel giro di poco, così da mantenere grande il divario tra follower e following. Per essere professionisti della Chiclayo basta solo avere molto tempo libero.

Oggetto perduto per strada che nessuno ha intenzione di raccogliere e che il proprietario non tornerà mai a reclamare. Dopo giorni scompare in misteriose circostanze. Di solito si tratta di un guanto.

Quando dimostrare di avere un'ampia conoscenza di qualcosa di particolare passa dall'essere meritevole di stima allo svelare quanto tu sia sfigato.
Es. «Il nome originale di Piton è Snape, che potrebbe sembrare una storpiatura di "snake", ma in realtà è il nome di un paesino».
«Il secondo nome di Hermione è Jean, all'inizio era Jane, ma la Rowling l'ha cambiato perché avrebbe finito per condividere lo stesso secondo nome della Umbridge».
«Non sapevo neanche questo».
«Vuoi che ti elenchi tutti gli incantesimi in ordine alfabetico o preferisci in ordine di apparizione nei libri?»
«Facciamo la prossima volta, ora devo andare a toglierti dagli amici di Facebook».

Chi va da solo al cinema di pomeriggio.

Gruppo di WhatsApp archiviato ma non cancellato perché cancellarlo significherebbe ammettere che i rapporti tra i membri non sono più quelli di prima.

Chi riporta alla luce un Wuhai.

La reazione di finta allegria in onore dei vecchi tempi dei membri di un Wuhai dopo l'intervento di un Wuhan. Dopo il Wuhu il gruppo torna comunque a essere un Wuhai.

Il tacito abbandono di massa di un Wuhan.

L'ultima persona rimasta in un Wuhai che arriva ore dopo il Wuzhong e si ritrova tradita e confusa a dover cancellare definitivamente il gruppo. Potrebbe essere la naturale evoluzione di un Wuhan.
Profile Image for Toby.
829 reviews328 followers
July 24, 2014
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 gourmet's lips. 2. The droplet of saliva which hangs from them. or Tooting Bec (n.) A car behind which one draws up at the traffic lights and hoots at when the lights go green before realising that the car is parked and there is no one inside. or even simply groaned in disbelief and the bizarre nature of town naming when confronted with Wormelow Tump (n.) Any seventeen year old who doesn't know about anything at all in the world other than bicycle gears. but then you're confronted with places names that are wholly familiar to you, places like Baldock and Luton may sound perfectly normal to somebody who grew up in Hitchin but to all you folk out there in the internets it seems that I too am the butt of a joke about horseshoe shaped rugs placed around toilet bowls. Perception is an interesting thing.

Anyway, the town I currently live in doesn't require an inventive description from a genius of comic writing, it comes with its own ready made definition. Hi guys, welcome to the City of Cockburn.
Profile Image for Metin Yılmaz.
979 reviews95 followers
January 1, 2019
Merak ettiğim bir kitaptı ve beklentim oldukça yüksekti. Oldukça komik olacak sandım ama çeviri yüzünden isimler bizim dilimize komik gelmeyen, ya da telafuzundan dolayı gelemeyen kelimeler olduğundan belki olmadı. Ama şunu kabul etmek gerekir oldukça yaratıcı tanımlamalar var ve bunlar az biraz gülümsetiyor. Çok iyi bir klasik eser sonrasında ya da sağlam bir edebi eser sonrasında okumazsanız, ara ara bakmalık güldürmesini umduğunuz zamanlarda okursanız belki çok daha iyi bir etki verebilir.
Profile Image for Colin.
1,345 reviews33 followers
March 11, 2018
Everything Douglas Adams did was brilliant.
Profile Image for Catherine.
189 reviews2 followers
July 6, 2014
Totally silly, useless and pythonesque dictionary. Also hilarious. Goodreaders will appreciate the words Ahenny and Ballycumber.
Profile Image for Helen Hnin.
869 reviews34 followers
December 26, 2021
3.5 stars rounded up to 4!

It was very fun. I've never made so many highlights in a book before. You should read this in very small increments to really appreciate the humor! I'm not British but I really understood most of this humor, except for some very specific social scenarios that I've neither experienced nor have seen in media/book etc. I can't choose my favorite words yet so I guess TBC!
Profile Image for Marilyn.
1,121 reviews24 followers
December 2, 2017
Would have been more enjoyable to read slowly bit by bit over time instead of trying to plow right through my library copy. I didn’t realize this is a “dictionary” of place names. Some of this was really funny and spot on and some was less so. Still, Douglas Adams was such an amazing observer of life and some definitions were so hilarious that I give this a 4stars.
Profile Image for Divya Pal Singh.
479 reviews55 followers
June 2, 2020
Douglas Adams never fails to delight. Here are some quotes to whet your appetite for more:
Liff n. A common object or experience for which no word yet exists.
Albacete n. A single surprisingly long hair growing in the middle of nowhere.
Kurdistan n. Hard stare given by a husband to his wife when he notices a sharp increase in the number of times he answers the phone to be told, ‘Sorry, wrong number.’
Affcot n. The sort of fart you hope people will talk after.
Spuzzum n. A wee-wee which resembles a lawn sprinkler, caused by a shred of tissue paper covering the exit hole of the penis.
Budle vb. To fart underwater.
Elsrickle n. A bead of sweat which runs down your bottom cleavage
Glororum n. One who takes pleasure in informing others about their bowel movements.
Joliette n. (OLD FRENCH) Polite word for a well-proportioned dog-turd.
Laxobigging ptcpl.vb. Struggling to extrude an extremely large turd.
Riber n. The barely soiled sheet of toilet paper which signals the end of the bottom-wiping process.
Abilene adj. Descriptive of the pleasing coolness on the reverse side of the pillow.
Leeming ptcpl.vb. The business of making silly faces at babies.
Dufton n. The last page of a document that you always leave face down in the photocopier and have to go and retrieve later.
Kerry n. The small twist of skin which separates each sausage on a string.
Rochester n. One who is able to gain occupation of the armrests on both sides of their cinema or aircraft seat.
Bepton n. One who beams benignly after burping.
Henstridge n. A dried yellow substance found between the prongs of forks in restaurants.
Coilantogle n. (VULGAR) Long elasticated loop of snot which connects a pulled bogey to a nose.
Deal n. The gummy substance found between damp toes.
Longniddry n. A droplet which persists in running out of your nose.
Scurlage n. A duck-web of snot caused by sneezing into your hand.
Skegness n. Nose excreta of a malleable consistency.
Beccles pl. n. The small bone buttons placed in bacon sandwiches by unemployed dentists.
Bauple n. An indeterminate pustule which could be either a spot or a bite.
Belper n. A knob of someone else’s chewing gum which you unexpectedly find your hand resting on under the passenger seat of your car or on somebody’s thigh under their skirt.
Botusfleming n. (MEDICAL) A small, long-handled steel trowel used by surgeons to remove the contents of a patient’s nostrils prior to a sinus operation.
Grobister n. One who continually and publicly rearranges the position of his genitals.
Misool n. A mixture of toothpaste and saliva in a wash-basin.
Scronkey n. Something that hits the window as a result of a violent sneeze.
Skenfrith n. The flakes of athlete’s foot found inside socks.
Baughurst n. That kind of large fierce ugly woman who owns a small fierce ugly dog.
Eriboll n. A brown bubble of cheese containing gaseous matter which grows on welsh rarebit. It was Sir Alexander Fleming’s study of eribolls which led, indirectly, to his discovery of the fact that he didn’t like welsh rarebit much.
Scraptoft n. The absurd flap of hair a vain and balding man grows long above one ear to comb it plastered over the top of his head to the other ear
Addis Ababa n. The torrent of incomprehensible gibberish which emanates from the loudspeakers on top of cars covered in stickers.
Gallipoli adj. Of the behaviour of a bottom lip trying to spit out mouthwash after an injection at the dentist. Hence, loose, floppy, useless.
Lingle vb. To touch battery terminals with one’s tongue.
Nazeing ptcpl.vb. The rather unconvincing noises of pretended interest which an adult has to make when brought a small dull object for admiration by a child.
Abruzzo n. The worn patch of ground under a swing.
Ewelme n. The smile bestowed on you by an air hostess.
Meath adj. Warm and very slightly clammy. Descriptive of the texture of your hands after you’ve tried to dry them on a hot-air-blowing automatic hand-drying machine.
Limassol n. The correct name for one of those little paper umbrellas which come in cocktails with too much pineapple juice in them.
Beppu n. The triumphant slamming shut of a book after reading the final page.
Clun n. A leg which has gone to sleep and has to be hauled around after you.
Nyarling ptcpl.vb. Of married couples, using a term of endearment as a term of censure or reproach.
Polyphant n. The mythical beast – part bird, part snake, part jam stain – which invariably wins children’s painting competitions in the 5–7 age group.
Stibbard n. The invisible brake pedal on the passenger’s side of the car.
Boinka n. The noise through the wall which tells you that the people next door enjoy a better sex life than you do.
Stebbing n. The erection you cannot conceal because you are not wearing a jacket.
Farrancassidy n. A long and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to undo someone’s bra.
Hobarris n. (MEDICAL) A sperm which carries a high risk of becoming a bank manager.
Huby n. A half-erection large enough to be a publicly embarrassing bulge in the trousers, but not large enough to be of any use to anybody.
Humby n. An erection which won’t go down when a gentleman has to go to the lavatory in the middle of dallying with a lady.
Meadle vb. To blunder around a woman’s breasts in a way which does absolutely nothing for her.
Moisie adj. The condition of one’s face after performing cunnilingus.
Southwick n. A left-handed wanker.
Sublime Poetic
Ardelve vb. To make a big display of searching all your pockets when approached by a charity collector.
Cloates Point n. The precise instant at which scrambled eggs are ready.
Grimbister n. Large body of cars on a motorway all travelling at exactly the speed limit because one of them is a police
Gubblecote n. Deformation of the palate caused by biting into too many Toblerones.
Oswestry adj. Unable to find a comfortable position in bed.
Manitoba n. A re-courtship ritual. The tentative and reluctant touching of spouses’ toes in bed after a row.
Pofadder n. A snake that can’t be bothered to bite you.
Nybster n. The sort of person who takes the lift to travel one floor.
Aigburth n. Any piece of readily identifiable anatomy found amongst cooked meat.
Beccles pl. n. The small bone buttons placed in bacon sandwiches by unemployed dentists.
Belding n. The technical name for a stallion after its first ball has been cut off. Any notice which reads ‘Beware of the Belding’ should be taken very, very seriously.
Anantnag vb. (ESKIMO) To bang your thumbs between the oars when rowing.
Brecon n. The part of the toenail which is designed to snag on nylon sheets.
Minchinhampton n. The expression on a man’s face when he has just zipped his trousers up without due care and attention.
A glossary that is longer than the book is helpfully appended at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Navaneeta.
144 reviews181 followers
October 9, 2011
Some definitions in typical 'Douglese':

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.

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

A knob of someone else's chewing gum which you unexpectedly find your hand
resting on under a deck's top, under the passenger seat of your car or on
somebody's thigh under their skirt.

CLIXBY (adj.)
Politely rude. Briskly vague. Firmly uninformative.

The moment at which two people approaching from opposite ends of a long
passageway, recognise each other and immediately pretend they haven't. This is to
avoid the ghastly embarrassment of having to continue recognising each other the
whole length of the corridor.

A mood of irrational irritation with everyone and everything.

DIDLING (participial vb.)
The process of trying to work out who did it when reading a whodunnit, and trying
to keep your options open so that when you find out you can allow yourself to
think that you knew perfectly well who it was all along.

DIBBLE (vb.)
To try to remove a sticky something from one hand with the other, thus causing it
to get stuck to the other hand and eventually to anything else you try to remove it

A street dance. The two partners approach from opposite directions and try
politely to get out of each other's way. They step to the left, step to the right,
apologise, step to the left again, apologise again, bump into each other and
repeat as often as unnecessary.

Sudden realisation, as you lie in bed waiting for the alarm to go off, that it should
have gone off an hour ago.

ELY (n.)
The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone terribly

Someone you don't want to invite to a party but whom you know you have to as a
matter of duty.

To relate an amusing story to someone without remembering that it was they who
told it to you in the first place.

He even has a word for someone who washes all the dishes and stuff but refuses to clean the cooking pans. Well, since I am one of those I have desisted from including that.
Profile Image for Astrid Terese.
741 reviews20 followers
March 3, 2018
Jeg leste The meaning of Liff for mange år siden, senere kom også boken The deeper meaning of Liff og i går fikk jeg After Liff i posten. Og da ble det absolutt på tide å skrive litt om dem. The meaning of Liff er en bitteliten bok skrevet av Douglas Adams og John Lloyd. Den kom ut i 1983 og var forfatternes første forsøk å å bruke vanlige, engelske stedsnavn til å beskrive følelser, hendelser og ting som ikke har et navn. Et godt eksempel er;

DES MOINES (pl. n.)
The two litle lines which come down from your nose.
Fitting exactly and satifyingly.
The cardbord box that slides neatly into an exact space in a garage, or the last book which exactly fills a bookshelf, is said to fit «real nice and kentucky».
2 reviews
January 15, 2018
Thought-provoking, deep, amazing! Makes you look at life differently, giving a new kind of appreciation for details in life you probably never think about, bringing a feeling of universal connection between all things, living or not. A dictionary that reaches beyond the boundaries that separate us all and bring us together; a life-changing read, one that will bring an idea of what the meaning of life could possibly be as seen through the lens of ordinary yet extraordinary life. This dictionary shows us how extraordinary life can be found in ordinary, everyday life.

Closely linked to the thinking of Ambroce Bierce with his Devil's Dictionary or Carl Jung's idea of Archetypes/a universal consciousness & memory; yet not any less spectacular. I will remember this read forever.
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,148 reviews
February 6, 2013
I am so pleased I discovered this book - having owned and read The Deeper meaning of Liff for some time I thought I would never find the original edition but no here it is. Its a fun and creative list of words and their explainations which shows perfectly the commical and ironic thoughts of Douglas Adams. If you can find it, its worth reading
Profile Image for Linds.
114 reviews
December 31, 2019
Douglas Adams is amazing as expected. It can get a little tiresome to read this book straight through, but I think it's fantastic for random flipping. I was very impressed with how well Adams and Lloyd seemed to know the random scenarios/things which could use definitions.
Profile Image for Michi.
434 reviews3 followers
January 6, 2023
This is really more of a coffee table/toilet entertainment book and shouldn't really be read cover to cover, but I did anyway. It's decent - at least one minor chuckle every two pages or so, a pretty equal mixture of incredibly dated and timeless humour.
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