The Meaning of Liff

by Douglas Adams & John Lloyd

Better known for authoring a book with the words 'Don't Panic' on the cover, Douglas Adams also spawned a book sporting the slightly less catchy 'This book will change your life'. The book attaches meanings in search of words to place-names in search of meanings. While much of the book is amusing the examples below have been chosen because they are the Liff words which I have actually adopted into my vocabulary (I was inspired to add this page to my site while searching for a ludlow). For a full version in Windows help format follow this link.

Duntish (adj.)
Mentally incapacitated by a severe hangover.
Limassol (n.) *
The correct name for one of those little paper umbrellas which come in cocktails with too much pineapple juice in them.
Ludlow (n.)
A wad of newspaper, folded table-napkin or lump of cardboard put under a wobbly table or chair to make it stand up straight. [I often use small stacks of penny coins as ludlows for bookcases to stop them leaning forward.]
Sidcup (n.)
One of those hats made from tying knots in the corners of a handkerchief.
Uphall (vb.) *
To adjust an erection through the trouser pocket so that it lies upwards, kept in place by the waistband of your pants. This eases the probus (qv).

* From the Official Supplement to the Meaning of Liff by John Lloyd and Douglas Adams with Stephen Fry, published in the Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book, 1986.

The following words are not place names but appear to be meanings left out of Liff.

Arble Farble (n., vb.)
Garbled speech resulting from the brain not taking into account how long it takes to say things and going ahead with the next bit anyway.
Baalambed (adj.)
Drunk without (much) alcohol. Synonyme of euphoric.
Pedslump (n.)
The action whereby your socks remove themselves from your feet, inside your boots, ending up by wedging themselves in the toe of your footwear. Comes in single and double forms, according to one or both feet. If double pedslump occurs, it is time to buy new socks.
Raisin (n.)
Current plan. Esp. 'What's the raisin?'
Siblet (n.)
Anyone who has siblings from the same pregnancy.

The following words are French in origin but I use them in English with somewhat modified/specified meanings.

Boff (exclam.)
I shrug my shoulders in your general direction.
Nuit blanche (n.)
A night spent awake through choice (i.e. not a sleepless night in the sense of restless).
Tranche (n.)
Something which would be called a slice except that it was not created by slicing, especially used for egg noodles which come in packets containing three separate blocks. [One tranche or two?]
Tree (vb.) [From trier]
To sort a mixed collection of items into seperate piles.

This page was last updated on 16/12/99.

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