The Meaning of Liff
Douglas Adams, John Lloyd
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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.
bus. ABERYSTWYTH (n.) A nostalgic yearning which is in itself more pleasant than the thing being yearned for. ABILENE (adj.) Descriptive of the pleasing coolness on the reverse side of the pillow. ABINGER (n.) One who washes up everything except the frying pan, the cheese grater and the saucepan which the chocolate sauce has been made in. ABOYNE (vb.) To beat an expert at a game of skill by playing so appallingly that none of his clever tactics or strategies are of any use to him.
half-chewed breadcrumbs or small pieces of whitebait. SAVERNAKE (vb.) To sew municipal crests on to a windcheater in the belief that this will make the wearer appear cosmopolitan. SCAMBLEBY (n.) A small dog which resembles a throw-rug and appears to be dead. SCETHROG (n.) One of those peculiar beards-without-moustaches worn by religious Belgians and American scientists which help them look like trolls. SCONSER (n.) A person who looks around then when talking to you, to see if
suggest to their companions that they should split the cost of the meal equally, and then orders two packets of cigarettes on the bill. WIVENHOE (n.) The cry of alacrity with which a sprightly eighty-year-old breaks the ice on the lake when going for a swim on Christmas Eve. WOKING (participial vb.) Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for. WOOLFARDISHWORTHY (n.) A mumbled, mispronounced or misheard word in a song, speech or play. Derived from the well-known mumbles
timed as to obscure the crucial part of the rather amusing remark you've just made. DORRIDGE (n.) Technical term for one of the lame excuses written in very small print on the side of packets of food or washing powder to explain why there's hardly anything inside. Examples include 'Contents may have settled in transit' and 'To keep each biscuit fresh they have been individually wrapped in silver paper and cellophane and separated with corrugated lining, a cardboard flap, and heavy industrial
discreetly by working one's way up the line without being spotted doing so. FORSINAIN (n. archaic) The right of the lord of the manor to molest dwarves on their birthdays. FOVANT (n.) A taxi driver's gesture, a raised hand pointed out of the window which purports to mean 'thank you' and actually means 'fuck off out of the way'. FRADDAM (n.) The small awkward-shaped piece of cheese which remains after grating a large regular-shaped piece of cheese and enables you to cut your fingers.