A Liff is a common object or experience for which no word yet exists. The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd humorous dictionary which uses place names to describe some of these meanings. Liff is in fact a small hamlet northwest of Dundee in Angus, Scotland. Here is a selection of my favourites:
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.
ACLE (n.) The rouge pin which shirtmakers conceal in the most improbable fold of a new shirt. Its function is to stab you when you don the garment.
ADLESTROP (n.) That part of a suitcase which is designed to get snarled up on conveyor belts at airports. Some of the more modern adlestrop designs have a special ‘quick release’ feature which enables the case to lip open at this point and fling your underclothes into the conveyor belt’s gearing mechanism.
AHENNY (adj.) The way people stand when examining other people’s bookshelves.
AINDERBY QUERNHOW (n.) One who continually bemoans the ‘loss’ of the word ‘gay’ to the English language, even though they had never used the word in any context at all until they started complaining that they couldn’t use it any more.
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.
AITH (n.) The single bristle that sticks out sideways on a cheap paintbrush.
BANFF (adj.) Pertaining to, or descriptive of, that kind of facial expression which is impossible to achieve except when having a passport photograph taken.
BECCLES (pl. n.) The small bone buttons placed in bacon sandwiches by unemployed guerrilla dentist.
BLEAN (n.) Scientific measure of luminosity : 1 glimmer = 100,000 bleans. Usherettes’ torches are designed to produce between 2.5 and 4 bleans, enabling them to assist you in falling downstairs, treading on people or putting your hand into a Neapolitan tub when reaching for change.
BOTLEY (n.) The prominent stain on a man’s trouser crotch seen on his return from the lavatory. A botley proper is caused by an accident with the push taps, and should not be confused with any stain caused by insufficient waggling of the willy.
BRISBANE (n.) A perfectly reasonable explanation (Such as the one offered by a person with a gurgling cough which has nothing to do with the fact that they smoke fifty cigarettes a day.)
BRYMBO (n.) The single unappetising bun left in a baker’s shop after four p.m.
BURBAGE (n.) The sound made by a liftful of people all trying to breathe politely through their noses.
CHICAGO (n.) The foul-smelling wind which precedes an underground railway train.
CORFU (n.) The dullest person you met during the course of your holiday. Also the only one who failed to understand that the exchanging of addresses at the end of a holiday is merely a social ritual and is absolutely not an invitation to phone you up and turn up unannounced on your doorstep three months later.
CROMARTY (n.) The brittle sludge which clings to the top of ketchup bottles and plastic tomatoes in nasty cafes.
DIDCOT (n.) The tiny oddly-shaped bit of card which a ticket inspector cuts out of a ticket with his clipper for no apparent reason. It is a little-known fact that the confetti at Princess Margaret’s wedding was made up of thousands of didcots collected by inspectors on the Royal Train.
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 with.
DREBLEY (n.) Name for a shop which is supposed to be witty but is in fact wearisome, e.g. ‘The Frock Exchange’, ‘Hair Apparent’, etc.
DUGGLEBY (n.) The person in front of you in the supermarket queue who has just unloaded a bulging trolley on to the conveyor belt and is now in the process of trying to work out which pocket they left their cheque book in, and indeed which pair of trousers.
DUNBOYNE (n.) The moment of realisation that the train you have just patiently watched pulling out of the station was the one you were meant to be on.
DUNGENESS (n.) The uneasy feeling that the plastic handles of the overloaded supermarket carrier bag you are carrying are getting steadily longer.
DUNTISH (adj.) Mentally incapacitated by severe hangover.
EPPING (participial vb.) The futile movements of forefingers and eyebrows used when failing to attract the attention of waiters and barmen.
EPSOM (n.) An entry in a diary (such as a date or a set of initials) or a name and address in your address book, which you haven’t the faintest idea what it’s doing there.
EVERSCREECH (n.) The look given by a group of polite, angry people to a rude, calm queuebarger.
FINUGE (vb.) In any division of foodstuffs equally between several people, to give yourself the extra slice left over.
FIUNARY (n.) The safe place you put something and then forget where it was.
FROLESWORTH (n.) Measure. The minimum time it is necessary to spend frowning in deep concentration at each picture in an art gallery in order that everyone else doesn’t think you’ve a complete moron.
GLORORUM (n.) One who takes pleasure in informing others about their bowel movements.
GOLANT (adj.) Blank, sly and faintly embarrassed. Pertaining to the expression seen on the face of someone who has clearly forgotten your name.
GREAT WAKERING (participial vb.) Panic which sets in when you badly need to go to the lavatory and cannot make up your mind about what book or magazine to take with you.
GREELEY (n.) Someone who continually annoys you by continually apologising for annoying you.
HAPPLE (vb.) To annoy people by finishing their sentences for them and then telling them what they really meant to say.
HASTINGS (pl.n.) Things said on the spur of the moment to explain to someone who comes into a room unexpectedly precisely what it is you are doing.
HATHERSAGE (n.) The tiny snippets of beard which coat the inside of a washbasin after shaving in it.
HEATON PUNCHARDON (n.) A violent argument which breaks out in the car on the way home from a party between a couple who have had to be polite to each other in company all evening.
HEVER (n.) The panic caused by half-hearing a tannoy in an airport.
HIDCOTE BARTRAM (n.) To be caught in a hidcote bartram is to say a series of protracted and final goodbyes to a group of people, leave the house and then realise
HOFF (vb.) To deny indignantly something which is palpably true.
IPING (participial vb.) The increasingly anxious shifting from leg to leg you go through when you are desperate to go to the lavatory and the person you are talking to keeps on remembering a few final things he want to mention.
KALAMI (n.) The ancient Eastern art of being able to fold road-maps properly.
KELLING (participial vb.) A person searching for something, who has reached the futile stage of re-looking in all the places they have looked once already, is said to be kelling.
KENTUCKY (adv.) Fitting exactly and satisfyingly. The cardboard 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 andkentucky’.
LAMLASH (n.) The folder on hotel dressing-tables full of astoundingly dull information.
LINDISFARNE (adj.) Descriptive of the pleasant smell of an empty biscuit tin.
LOWTHER (vb.) (Of a large group of people who have been to the cinema together.) To stand aimlessly about on the pavement and argue about whether to go and eat either a Chinese meal nearby or an Indian meal at a restaurant which somebody says is very good but isn’t certain where it is, or have a drink and think about it, or just go home, or have a Chinese meal nearby – until by the time agreement is reached everything is shut.
MELCOMBE REGIS (n.) The name of the style of decoration used in cocktail lounges in mock Tudor hotels inSurrey.
MILWAUKEE (n.) The melodious whistling, chanting and humming tone of themilwaukee 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.
MOFFAT (n. tailoring term) That part of your coat which is designed to be sat on by the person next of you on the bus.
MOTSPUR (n.) The fourth wheel of a supermarket trolley which looks identical to the other tree but renders the trolley completely uncontrollable.
NAD (n.) Measure defined as the distance between a driver’s outstretched fingertips and the ticket machine in an automatic car-park. 1 nad =18.4 cm.
NANHORON (n. medical) A tiny valve concealed in the inner ear which enables a deaf grandmother to converse quite normally when she feels like it, but which excludes completely anything that sounds like a request to help with laying the table.
NANTWICH (n.) A late-night snack, invented by the Earl of Nantwich, which consists of the dampest thing in the fridge, pressed between two of the driest things in the fridge. The Earl, who lived in a flat in Clapham, invented the nantwich to avoid having to go shopping.
NAUGATUCK (n.) A plastic sachet containing shampoo, polyfilla, etc., which is impossible to open except by biting off the corners.
NOTTAGE (n.) Nottage is the collective name for things which you find a use for immediately after you’ve thrown them away. For instance, your greenhouse has been cluttered up for years with a huge piece of cardboard and great fronds of gardening string. You at last decide to clear all this stuff out, and you burn it. Within twenty-four hours you will urgently need to wrap a large parcel, and suddenly remember that luckily in your greenhouse there is some cardb…
OZARK (n.) One who offers to help just after all the work has been done.
PITLOCHRY (n.) The background gurgling noise heard in Wimpy Bars caused by people trying to get the last bubbles out of their milkshakes by slurping loudly through their straws.
QUEDGELEY (n.) A rabidly left-wing politician who can afford to be that way because he married a millionairess.
RAMSGATE (n.) All institutional buildings must, by law, contain at least twenty ramsgates. These are doors which open the opposite way to the one you expect.
SCONSER (n.) A person who looks around then when talking to you, to see if there’s anyone more interesting about.
SHOEBURYNESS (abstract n.) The vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else’s bottom.
SOLENT (adj.) Descriptive of the state of serene self-knowledge reached through drink.
SPOFFORTH (vb.) To tidy up a room before the cleaning lady arrives.
THEAKSTONE (n.) Ancient mad tramp who jabbers to himself and swears loudly and obscenely on station platforms and traffic islands.
TODDING (vb.) he business of talking amiably and aimlessly to the barman at the local.
TUAMGRANEY (n.) A hideous wooden ornament that people hang over the mantelpiece to prove they’ve been toAfrica.
WINKLEY (n.) A lost object which turns up immediately you’ve gone and bought a replacement for it.
WOKING (participial vb.) Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for.
WORKSOP (n.) A person who never actually gets round to doing anything because he spends all his time writing out lists headed ‘Things to Do (Urgent)’.
WRABNESS (n.) The feeling after having tried to dry oneself with a damp towel.
WYOMING (participial vb.) Moving in hurried desperation from one cubicle to another in a public lavatory trying to find one which has a lock on the door, a seat on the bowl and no brown steaks on the seat.