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The Meaning of Liff

(The Meaning of Liff #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,752 ratings  ·  145 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.
Paperback, 191 pages
Published November 1st 1983 by MacMillan General Books
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  3,752 ratings  ·  145 reviews


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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
...more
Jan-Maat
Aug 16, 2011 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only for fans of John Lloyd and Douglas Adams
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
...more
Thomas Strömquist
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-collection
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
...more
Joey Woolfardis
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Chalchihut
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If only I can remember every single word in it.
Tim
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Akshay
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Karnika Kapoor
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Toby
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny
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
...more
Colin
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Everything Douglas Adams did was brilliant.
Maria
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you like "tasting" words you will enjoy this book.
itchy
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: electronic
such outré!
and to think that it's the first book in a trilogy
Marilyn B
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny
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.
Michael
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, fiction-non
If I encounter someone using these words in everyday conversation, I think we will become fast friends.
Dirk
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-longer-owned
Just read it. He fell of dead from his own hometrainer. Like his death, such are his books.
Navaneeta
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
...more
JulySnow2
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Linds
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Gavin Williams
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous, silly, ridiculous fun with the English language, as only can be had with the English language.
Catherine
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Totally silly, useless and pythonesque dictionary. Also hilarious. Goodreaders will appreciate the words Ahenny and Ballycumber.
Jennifer Evans
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A giggly tiny coffee table book of definitions. Always good for a laugh!
Kathy Doll
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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...
Rudy Gate
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I didn't really like it, but I think it was because of the Czech translation...
Robert Day
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I prefer DA's other books; the ones about the galaxy. Not that this book is without merit; there's not really enough. Not for me. Some of the items resonated with me and others made sense to me, but there were very few that made me laugh and even fewer that taught me something about human nature that I hadn't already realised all by myself without any help.

Someone wrote, in their review, that "no review of "Liff" is complete without a few examples". I guess then that this review is going to be
...more
Versuvio
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book if you enjoy practicing your pronunciation. It's fun trying to guess how to pronounce words like "Bindle" - because of the similarity in meaning, I decided to let it rhyme with swindle - "Brecon", "Hobarris", and "Warleggan".
If you do not seek to hone your creative pattern recognition skills, this still is worth a read in case you
- enjoy reading dictionaries in general
- share Douglas Adams' humor
- need a book to read on the train
- play a game of "look at this smart word I know" with
...more
Natalie
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love the creativity of Douglas Adams, how he can be so random and whimsical and funny at the same time. My only suggestion with this book is that it not be read all at once. It's really best read it small pieces at a time, or used as a reference book. Because every definition is utterly made up, all the randomness can lose its novelty fairly quickly.
I like cake
I didn't really find it that funny and lots of the situations I didn't recognise. A few a did, but it was more like "oh yes that thing.." rather than laugh out loud funny. I don't think my humour is very verbal-based. It also seemed like lots of stuff was related to posh stuff/different culture to me, and/or men so that might also explain why I didn't 'get' lots of it.
Michi
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Clive
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
One of the great toilet books of our time.
Kim
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this about 20 years ago and have referred to it often since. So many of the words have found their use in my life. Scullet, Duntish, Dungeness, Listowel, Chicago, Cromarty, Throcking etc etc.
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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 ...more

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
“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.”
4 likes
“DIDLING (participal 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.”
3 likes
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