*** JDR's Liff Collection ***
by Dave (JD) Rogers
Note; This is just a page where I store the “Liff” definitions that I’ve written myself. Some of these (slightly edited), plus LOADS more that have been written by other people, are in the main collection … “The Even Deeper Meaning of Liff, The Saga Continues” … A846065.
The collection below includes all the definitions from my previous h2g2 pages, starting in 1999, plus some new ones, collected together into one big Load of Liff.
Introduction;- The basic idea behind the “Meaning of Liff” books, by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, was to use place-names as the basis of dictionary-style definitions that describe objects or situations that had previously had no name. Adams et al used place names from all over the world, I’ve only used British ones so far.
Note; “see liff” refers to a definition in one of the original books.
Further notes; see end.
--------- A ---------
Aberlemno (n.) The little shelf on a Wimbledon umpire's stepladder used for holding soft drinks.
Abernant (vb.) Absolutely refusing to admit that it was you who was seen on holiday in Rhyl.
Abertillery (n.) Highly unsuccessful medieval Welsh military machines which fired high-velocity leeks and entirely failed to bring down the walls of Caernarfon castle.
Acharacle (n.) The sound of someone having a really good scratch.
Achnacloich (vb.) A panic-stricken lunge to knock off the spider that has just been spotted in the Achnaha (q.v.).
Achnagarron (n.) The feeling of horror upon realising that the Achnacloich (q.v.) has only succeeded in sending the spider scurrying for cover into your nether-garments.
Achnaha (vb.) To suddenly notice the large hairy spider that has been crawling up your leg or constructing a web between your knees.
Acton Trussel (n. archaic) A close friend to whom a Knight bound for the Crusades would entrust the keys to his wife's chastity belt. A large percentage of the British population are thought to be direct descendents of Acton Trussels.
Adbolton (n.) A patch that you have to download from the Internet in order to make a program actually do what it said it would do on the box.
Adversane (adj.) Resistant to advertising. (See also; Radnage)
Affleck (vb.) To pebbledash someone's best suit by talking at them with a mouthfull of crisps. Unlike Satterthwaite (see Liff), Afflecking is a deliberate act done for humorous effect.
Ainstable (n.) A type of Quantum Oscillator which will only oscillate if there is nobody there to notice it.
Alfold Crossways (n.) The latticework of lines and creases left on a letter by failed attempts at folding it to fit the envelope, which show the recipient that you are quite capable of making a complete mess of a simple job like folding a piece of paper.
Allerton (n.) A person who appears to be allergic to absolutely everything and everybody.
Altcreich (n.) Sound effect used when a cartoon character is speeding towards the edge of a cliff, rooftop, etc, but is unable to stop. (see also Zigong, Liff).
Altofts (n.) Springy bits of hair that no matter which way you comb them pop up again as soon as you turn away from the mirror.
Alton Priors (n.) The impossibility of folding a road-map back into the configuration it was in when you bought it.
Ampfield (n.) At a rock concert, the percentage of the venue occupied by the PA-system, amplifiers and speaker stacks.
Ampney Crucis (n.) The critical point at which the size of the Ampfield (qv) starts to look silly, for example when there is no room left for the actual audience.
Ampton (n.) A power-mad lead guitarist (i.e. any lead guitarist).
Ancrum (n.) Any small object from around the house tied to a child's Helium balloon to stop it from drifting off.
Angmering (vb.) Threatening to complain about the TV programme you are watching but with no intention of actually doing anything.
Apperknowle (n.) A schoolboy who can tell you the exact location of all the spy-holes into the girls showers and changing rooms.
Ardechive (n. technical, computing) A compressor utility that saves 0.01 % of your disk space whilst making your files 50 times more difficult to get at.
Ardentinny (n.technical. Alt. usage; see Liff) A die-hard hi-fi fanatic who still swears that CD's will never catch on because they can never sound quite as good as a vinyl LP played through a proper valve amp.
Ardminish (n.) A one-note guitar chord favoured by thrash-metal practitioners on the grounds that Harmonic Intervals are for wimps.
Ashbocking (vb.) A lengthy procedure undertaken by old steam-engine drivers after a day's work, whereby they, or their wife, would attempt to pick all the bits of coal, clinker and accumulated smutts out of their nose, ears, hair, teeth, eyebrows, gums, etc.
Ashcombe (n.) An implement used during Ashbocking (q.v.).
Ashmansworth (n.) The little mound of muck collected after a thorough Ashbocking (q.v.). In a symbolic act of rebellion against the job, drivers would occasionally mix the Ashmansworth with a bit of pipe-tobacco and smoke it.
Ashwicken (n.) Commencement of the Smethwick (q.v.) season.
Asknish (vb.) In a state of nervous indecision as to whether you should ask a question that you may not like the answer to, or remain forever in happy ignorance e.g. “can I have a rise”, or “so what do you think of this draft of my new novel”, or “how was it for you”.
Attercliffe (n.) A hill or rock-face that is just asking to be climbed up.
Audlem (n.) The deafening chaos into which bands descend during practice sessions as each musician gradually turns up their own volume to drown out the others.
Audley End (n.) The self-limiting point of Audlem (qv), whereby after many rounds of volume-incrementing the power amps are clipping, the circuit boards are approaching meltdown, but at least some sort of enforced balance is attained.
--------- B ---------
Bacup (vb.) A computer hiccup during which all existing copies of a vital file are simultaneously trashed by a freak mains-spike.
Badgeworth (n.) A boy-scout so proficient that his uniform now consists entirely of badges sewn together end-to-end.
Bainshole (n.) Scottish version of a Littleton Pannell (q.v.).
Balnapaling (vb.) The English occupation of dozing-off whilst watching the cricket. 75% of a test-match audience will, on average, be balnapaling.
Baltasound (n.) Collective term for the chaotic din that emanates from car repair workshops. (The exact composition of Baltasound varies, but normally includes a certain amount of battering with hammers, rending of metal and revving of dying engines, along with the whining of various pumps, drills and dissatisfied customers, plus one or more painfully loud and distorted transistor radios and a few macho mechanics shouting, blaspheming and farting ad lib).
Bapchild (n.) One who is just asking to be thumped.
Barcombe Cross (n.) The principal stroke used in creating a Scaptoft (see Liff) hairstyle.
Bargoed (vb.) Forced against one's will into buying the next round.
Barton Bendish (n.) The person whose fault it always is that what starts off as a “quick pint” ends up as a marathon pub-crawl.
Barton in the Beans (n.) The mysterious ingredient in baked beans responsible for their legendary intestinal gas generating powers. It is estimated that if chemists ever succeed in synthesising pure “barton”, then there will be an awful lot of people wishing that they hadn't.
Barwick in Elmet (n. archaic) In Arthurian legend, a lusty knight who is undergoing a voluntary period of chastity in order to work up a keen sense of anger before a battle. The “elmet” refers to the special headgear which was worn to indicate to the general populace that this person is *not* in a good mood and should be given as wide a berth as possible.
Beaver Green (n.) That part of the park favoured by secretaries for sunbathing in the lunch hour (and therefore not uncoincidentally favoured by the male office population as well).
Beddgellert (vb.) One who actually looks forward to having the 'flu, as being confined to bed is the only way they can get a bit of peace and quiet and catch up with all the reading that they've been meaning to do for ages but could never find the time.
Bickerstaffe (noun, Archaic. see Liff for modern usage) A ceremonial wooden pole that was kept in medieval villages for the purpose of settling disputes between argumentative women. Basically, they were each given a Bickerstaffe and then left to beat the crap out of each other.
Bidston (n.) Someone with an unmissable facial tic who insists on their right to attend auctions, thereby causing alarming escalation of the prices.
Billinge (n.) Collective term for the mundane drivel to be found in letters between penfriends who have absolutely nothing in common, yet neither of whom can bring themselves to be the first to stop replying to the other's increasingly pointless letters.
Bingley (n.) Cheerfully insane as a result of incessant Bingo playing. Typical usage; “poor old soul, she's gone bingley you know”.
Birdlip (n.) Swingin' 60's term for the verbal abuse received from one's girlfriend when the bottoms of one's flares failed to meet the regulation circumference.
Bishop's Nympton (n.) A secret device used by the clergy for discreetly scratching itchy bits under the cassock during long services.
Blubberhouses (n.) 99.999% of the households in Britain immediately after the draw for the National Lottery.
Blundellsands (n.) Areas of coastal sand dunes which, from a distance, look perfectly clean, but which upon actually reaching them are found to be full of litter, broken bottles, used condoms and pools of stagnant green water full of dead frogs.
Bobbington (n.) The lone idiot at every rock concert who can be seen leaping up and down completely out of time with the music.
Bodfari (n.) A daring and reckless expedition into Wales, particularly on a Bank Holiday.
Bogue (n.) The art of remaining cool and fashionable whilst on the toilet.
Bo'ness (vb.) The irresistible desire to nod off whilst having a haircut.
Boohay (vb.) Unsure whether to laugh or cry.
Boswinger (n.) One prone to involuntary nocturnal limb thrashing.
Bowerchalke (n.) A reserve cache of chalk kept by teacher's for throwing at aberrant pupils.
Braeface (n.) An expressionless expression worn to hide the fact that you loathe and detest the person you're talking to.
Braegrum (n.) The true expression hiding beneath the Braeface (q.v.) which may briefly reassert itself whenever the offending person looks away.
Bran End (n.) Medical condition characterised by posterior discomfort. Caused by the consumption of far too much roughage.
Branksome (adj.) Pug-ugly but considered highly attractive by dint of rank, power or bank balance.
Brasted (vb.) Shot by Elmer Fudd.
Bromborough (n.) A motor-cyclist who takes pleasure in sneaking up behind people and suddenly revving up very loudly.
Bulpham (n.) The b*$!ard who sneaks into the local park at night to dig up all the daffodil bulbs for his own garden.
Buttonoak (n.) One who walks around all day oblivious to the fact that they have fastened their coat Cardurnock-style (q.v.).
Bwlchgwyn (n. onomatopoeic) The sound made by one's stomach when a large pocket of wind decides that it's time to move.
--------- C ---------
Cabbage Hall (n.) A special room at English boarding-schools set aside for the punishment of aberrant pupils by the force-feeding of steamed cabbage for periods lasting anything up to a week. Now outlawed under the European Parliament's bill of human rights.
Caerphilly (n.) A suspiciously over-helpful male nurse.
Calderstones (pl.n.) Irritating bits of gravel that get into your shoes and force you to hop about on one leg to remove the shoe and shake them out. This is a complete waste of time, since they will by now have worked their way inside your socks and between your toes.
Caputh (vb.) Broken, but in such a manner as could go unnoticed for years, e.g. the F-11 key on a PC keyboard, top D-sharp on a piano, etc.
Cardurnock (n.) A man who habitually fastens the buttons on his cardigan one-out-of-step with the holes.
Carlops (n.) A vehicle approaching in the darkness which appears to be a motorcycle but which turns out to be a car or lorry with a missing headlamp. The odds are 50/50 for guessing the correct side on which to pass it.
Carlton Scroop (n.) A makeshift windscreen ice-scraper (often a plastic bank card)
Catcott Burtle (n.) The sound of a feline in digestive difficulties (see also; Duddlestone)
Chinley (adj.) The art of using the lower-jaw as a third hand when folding newly ironed clothes or freshly laundered sheets. A prehensile chin.
Clevancy (n.) The ability (some might say a gift) to see clearly that at least 99% of “the paranormal” is complete bunk.
Clinkham Wood (n.) The material from which Morris Dancers make their Whiffling Sticks. Great care is taken in selecting only wood with the right acoustic properties. This is traditionally done by a select band of Morris Men entering a consecrated forest on the first night of the full moon during the month immediately prior to the Vernal Equinox and gently tapping on the trunks of mature Oaks with a bent silver teaspoon whilst whistling “The Floral Dance” in F sharp minor. If nobody laughs, the tree is deemed suitable.
Clovulin (n.) A protein extracted from four-leaf-clovers and sold as “concentrated luck” to those who lack Clevancy (qv)
Congleton (n.) A metal tray dropped onto a kitchen floor at 3 or 4 a.m., the resounding clang from which echoes around the neighbourhood waking everybody up. The recommended position to adopt during this is with hands clenched on top of the head and eyes tightly shut.
Cottered (vb.) Whacked over the head without warning by a rattle-wielding baby.
Crosby (vb.) Feeling cheated by the fact that despite having hundreds of cable TV channels you can now find fewer programmes actually worth watching than when you only had four.
Crossens (n.) An affliction of the eyeballs caused by trying to make sense of drawings by M.C.Escher.
Crunwear (n.) A collection of comfortable old clothes kept specifically for doing D.I.Y. in. The more holes, burns, paint-splashes and solvent-smells the Crunwear accumulates the prouder of it will be the owner. Unfortunately, having reached this condition it is likely to be “accidentally” thrown in the bin by a disgusted partner.
Cullompton (n.) Someone who just cannot do anything quietly.
Cylibebyll (n.) The barely audible purring of a perfectly-tuned internal combustion engine.
--------- D ---------
Debach (vb.) To disengage gracefully from a cello.
Diggle (n.) To procrastinate as to where exactly to plant a row of peas.
Dihewyd (adj.) Able to speak English but reverting to Welsh in the presence of tourists.
Drumwhirn (n.) Unnecessary stick-juggling at the end of a song by a rock percussionist.
Duddlestone (n.) A small rock or pebble placed in the garden by a child to mark the spot where the goldfish, budgie, etc, now rests in peace. The Duddlestone soon disappears when the cat comes along to disinter and eat the deceased (see also; Catcott Burtle)
Dunaverty (n.) Morbid fear of using Australian outside toilets (see also; Duncton)
Duncton (n.) Generic term for any of the lethally poisonous varieties of spider which habitually lurk under Australian toilet seats.
Dundonald (n.) A reckless Australian male who adopts a cavalier attitude to Dunctons (qv) in order to to gain machismo at the possible expense of losing his life.
Dunipace (n.) Measure of speed, being the maximum velocity attainable whilst running with trousers half way up the legs after spotting a Duncton in the Dunny.
Dunphial (n.) The extremely fragile test-tube or glass bottle used to contain a deadly apocalyptic virus in sci-fi films.
Dunrod (n.) A small stick kept in Australian outdoor toilets for whacking or dislodging Dunctons (qv)
Dunvegan (n.) A relapsed vegetarian.
Dyffryn Cellwen (n.) Someone who always knows someone else with a much better mobile phone than your's.
--------- E ---------
Edwyn Ralph (n.) Someone with a quite ordinary name who suddenly decides it would be cool to adopt an exotic spelling e.g. Joww Bhlogze, Deyv Rodjairz.
Elburton (n.) Painful dig in the ribs intended as a friendly adjunct to the climax of a joke.
Empshott (n.) The half-finished e-mail which hides among the finished ones in your Outbox and gets sent by mistake.
Ensay (vb.) To hastily write an apologetic e-mail to chase after the Empshott (qv) explaining that any insults were unintentional, that you really didn't meant it, it was just a joke, etc, etc.
Ensis (n.) The state of frozen helplessness as you watch the Empshott (qv) whizz off into cyberspace, knowing that nothing you do can now prevent it from reaching it's destination.
Erdington (n.) A person who knows the end of the witty story you are relating but allows you to carry on so that he can pre-empt the punch line and deflate you in front of all your friends.
--------- F ---------
Falls of Blarghour (n.) Date of the end of the Party Political conference season in Blackpool.
Farnworth (n.) An olfactory measure, defined as the amount of farmyard smell that is sufficient to convince day-trippers that they are “out in the country”, but not enough to actually make them throw up all over the coach. Some rural councils, eager to encourage tourism, are said to be experimenting with computer co-ordinated cowsheds which maintain the optimum concentration of whiff in the local atmosphere.
Felindre (n.) A post-Mogerhanger (qv) cat, trapped inside the bin but rather enjoying it while the food-scraps last out.
Felixstowe (n.) A cat which has the knack of always being in the right place to be trodden on or tripped over.
Fionnphort (n.) An entirely inoffensive ladylike breaking of wind.
Flecknoe (n.) The art of disposing of bits of Skegness (see Liff) by flicking them across the room, under chairs, etc, when no one is looking.
Flyford Flavell (n.) An apprentice member of a TV studio floor-crew whose job it is to check that everyone's flies are done up before going on-camera.
Fogo (n.) see Nebo.
Frosterley (vb.) Feeling not ungrateful that Winter has arrived because you can slouch about indoors doing next to nothing for a few months without feeling too guilty about it.
Fynnongroew (n.) Fertiliser for Astroturf. Plantfood for plastic flowers. A generic term for a completely unnecessary commercial product.
--------- G ---------
Garbity (n.) That which actually gets recorded as opposed to that which you intended to record when setting the video-timer.
Garmouth (vb.) To use as many words as possible whilst conveying the absolute minimum of information, to inflate sentences to ten times the necessary length, to insert meaningless waffle and cliched cool-talk ... y'know what I'm sayin', yo, check it out ... etc. Technically, anything with a signal-to-crap ratio of less than 10dD (deci-drivels).
Gillmoss (n.) The ever-thickening viscous green sludge in which pet goldfish have to live because their owners are too stupid to ever think of changing the water.
Glapwell (vb.) To finely judge the angle of tilt when pouring a bottle of wine so as to elicit the most sumptuous sound effect. Some idea of the ideal sound to aim for can be obtained by repeating the word “glap” out loud to yourself at about 2.5 times per second.
Grassendale (n.) A Residential Home for retired pot-heads.
Great Sankey (n.) The final resting place of model boats and yachts. i.e. the bottom of the local park lake.
Great Yarmouth (n.) The first, jaw-dislocating yawn of the day.
Grimscote (n.) The patina, or crust, of deceased flying insects accumulated on the windscreens of high-speed trains.
Guelph (n.) Dehydrated bird-droppings on clothing.
Gumfreston (n.) A bedside-table false teeth holder, with or without integral clock and barometer.
--------- H ---------
Hacklinge (n.) The momentary twinge of guilt felt when installing pirated or cracked software.
Hackness (n.) The complete lack of concern or guilt once the software that caused the Hacklinge (qv) has been in use for about a week.
Haddo (n.) Verbal greeting by Bill or Ben the flowerpot men.
Halsnead (n.) The latent period in a Newsham (q.v.) during which the sneeze is gathering momentum and deciding when is the most inconvenient moment to re-erupt.
Halton (n.) A motorist who maintains a steady speed of 15 mph because he prides himself on being a safe driver but who leaves a trail of accidents in his wake due to frustrated drivers trying to overtake.
Hamstall Ridware (n.) Transparently untrue excuse given on the spur of the moment to deter door-to-door salespersons e.g. I really must go, I'm repotting a cactus.
Hanging Langford (n.) A hideous decoration that gets brought down from the attic every Christmas just in case the person who bought it for you happens to visit.
Harleyholm (n.) Valhalla for Hell's Angels and other species of bikers.
Havering-atte-Bower (vb.) Challenging the garden shed to a fight whilst in a state of advanced inebriation.
Havyat (vb.) A common sequel to Havering-atte-Bower (qv) involving a fencing-match with the trellis.
Haxted (vb.) At a rock concert, to be repeatedly elbowed in the ribs by the person next to you playing air-guitar. (Legend has it that an ac/dc fan was once Haxted to death.)
Henglers (n.) Many of those sitting on a canal bank dangling a line in the water are actually trying to catch fish, others are just there to get away from the wife. The latter are known as Henglers.
Hightown (n.) Any urban area containing more than it's fair share of pot-heads per square mile.
Hinton Blewett (vb.) To miss your chance by being so subtle for so long about something that the other person never even realises that you were after anything in the first place.
Hockering (n.) The period just before an opera or recital begins, during which the audience tries to get all the coughing, grunting and nose-blowing over and done with.
Hough Green (n.) That which sometimes comes up after an unsuccessful Thornton Hough (q.v.).
Hounslow (n.) In dog racing, the one that you chance all your remaining money on which then comes in last.
Hoylake (n.) A specially constructed pond at the back of Naval colleges, where trainees are sent to practise ship-to-ship shouting (a much sought after skill in the event of loss of radio contact at sea).
Huish (n.) In the mood to peruse paint-colour-charts and wallpaper patterns in a leisurely manner. This normally progresses quite rapidly to Huish Champflower (q.v.)
Huish Champflower (n.) A long drawn out war of attrition between man and wife when trying to agree on a paint colour or wallpaper pattern.
Huish Episcopi (n.) Sudden unexpected convergence of choice which mercifully brings to an end the Huish Champflower (q.v.)
--------- I/J ---------
Icklesham (n.) A tactic employed by human females when arguing with males, involving the affectation of a “baby-voice” in order to arouse a confusing array of primal instincts in the male.
Idvies (n.) Psychosomatically-induced itching and scratching whilst watching wildlife documentaries about insects. Idvies are becoming increasingly common as modern photographic techniques provide ever-more hideously enlarged images.
Ingst (n.) Acute anxiety upon noticing the long-expired “eat by” date on the packaging of the meal that you have just consumed.
Inverguseran (adj.) Resistant to changing one's accustomed brand or style of underpants.
Inverquharity (vb.) The irresistable urge to laugh during occasions that demand dignified silence. The ability to suppress the urge is inversely proportional to the solemnity of the occasion.
Inverquhomery (n.) Grovelling apologies made afterwards to atone for one's Inverquharity (q.v.).
Islivig (adj.) Unable or unwilling to kill slugs.
--------- K ---------
Keckwick (n.) The gentle art of “Keckwick” was developed by bored Edwardian ladies who decorated everything from teapots to entire rooms with nothing more than string. The only tools required are a pair of scissors, some string and a little varnish, with which you can transform any ordinary household object into exactly the same ordinary household object covered in string.
Killadysert (n.) The moment when a cinema audience realises that the alien/lunatic/monster that they had presumed dead, isn't, but is in fact about to get up and kill/squash/eat the victim.
Kinkell Bridge (n.) A point of chirality-reversal in a Stisted (qv) telephone lead, which can only be removed by painstakingly coaxing it along to one end.
Kinlet (n.) Allowing the offspring of visiting relatives to run riot in your house. This is normally followed, immediately they leave, by a condemnation of the lack of discipline from modern parents.
Kinsham (vb.) Pretending to enjoy the company of mad Uncles and dotty old Aunts in the hope of being included in their Will.
Kintra (n.) A silent prayer, or mantra, recited in the weeks prior to Christmas to ward off excess visiting relatives.
Kippax (n. Brand-name) Exploding correction fluid for really big mistakes.
Kirkbuddo (n.) Generic term for the expendable crew-member who accompanies the Captain of the Enterprise on away missions.
Kirkby Overblow (n.) Last-minute adjustments to Mr Shatner's wig.
Kirkdale (n.) A rest-home for the care and rehabilitation of old Star Trek fans. (Residents at Kirkdale are considered to be well on the road to recovery once they can grasp the basic concepts, if only haltingly at first, that Star Trek is not real, and that Billiam Shatner is just an actor and not a particularly good one at that.)
Knotty Ash (n.) The charred remains of an unbelievably important and irreplaceable document that you accidentally set on fire, which you are now trying to think of a way to reconstruct even though you know full well that combustion is generally a one-way process.
Kylestrome (n.) The flood of hormones unleashed in the pubescent human female which for the next ten years rules out any hope of logical communication with the male of the species.
--------- L ---------
Ladbroke (n.) Male equivalent of the Kylestrome (qv). Equally if not more debilitating.
Lelant (n.) A pose designed to appear casual yet defiant, e.g. of a teenager when refusing to bow to parental authority.
Lephin (adj.) Of intermediate stature between an Elf and a Leprechaun.
Libanus (n. Ancient Roman) The practice of mooning at the Forum.
Liscard (n.) A person who spends more time cataloguing, classifying and cross-indexing his CD collection than actually listening to it. Nowadays, most Liscards use a home computer, but the name originates from the days when it was all done with card-indexes.
Litherland (n.) Name of a shop that sells nothing but different types of soap.
Little Altcar (n.) A type of scruffy kid that lives in car parks and offers to “mind your car for you mister?”, which roughly translates as “give me 50p or you'll never see your hub caps again”.
Little Bongs (n.) A play-school and creche for the children of pot-heads.
Littleton Pannel (n.) A slightly larger version of a cat-flap, designed to allow small children access to and from the garden without having to bother the parents. (See also; Bainshole).
Long Eaton (n.) A late-night malingerer of the sort that the staff of restaurants wish would bloody well finish their meal and go home so that they can.
Lower Whatley (n. Technical) In the programming language “C”, a closing-bracket in a deeply-nested subroutine which appears to be unrelated to any particular opening-bracket, and which takes longer to debug than it took to write the whole bloody program in the first place.
Lugsdale (n.) A farming valley in Yorkshire famous for breeding sheep with unnecessarily large earlobes. Easy to spot, as they resemble small albino elephants.
Lydiate (n.) Someone who is so stupid that they are unable to grasp just how abysmally stupid they really are.
--------- M ---------
Madeley (n.) A girl who makes it quite clear to everybody by her demeanour that she is only out on a date with this idiot because her so-called “friends” arranged it for her.
Madron (n.) A hypothetical sub-quark-sized particle which is thought to be the absolutely fundamental constituent of all other particles and which obeys hardly any laws at all, thereby explaining quite a lot. The wave function of a Madron mostly evolves deterministically but suffers from occasional fits of vertigo due to excessive spin. As a particle, it obeys a Triple Uncertainty Principle, whereby you can know where it came from, where it is now, or where it is going, but never any two of these at the same time.
Maghull (n.) The gunge at the bottom of a fisherman's tackle box. Consisting typically of dead worms, maggott pupae and mouldy bits of sandwiches dampened with pond water. Many anglers consider it unlucky to ever clear this out, but curiously it eventually ceases to increase in volume, possibly due to the emergence of some sort of localised self-regulating ecosystem.
Mamble (n.) To converse with your dentist through a mouthfull of assorted dental equipment, cotton wadding, suction devices, etc.
Maufant (vb.) Having the uneasy feeling that Woody Allen is about to release another movie.
Melling (vb.) A strange dance performed in A-level chemistry labs; The student will attempt to identify the gaseous product of a chemical reaction by gently wafting his hand across the top of the test-tube towards his nose, thereby hoping to catch the merest whiff. Despite this cautious approach, the student inhales a lungfull of noxious vapour, and is seen to exit the lab staggering and choking. Occasionally the performance will end with the student declaring “it smells like bitter-almonds”, thereby correctly identifying the gas as Hydrogen Cyanide just before expiring.
Micklehead (vb.) Involuntary scalp-scratching that often accompanies Penketh (q.v.).
Mid Lavant (n.) The precise moment during a bath or shower when statistically the phone is most likely to ring, this being when the bather is entirely covered in soap.
Middle Chinnock (n.) A latent triple-chin.
Mill Craig (n.) An irresistable urge felt by watercolour artists to seek out weed-choked canals and derelict windmills.
Mogerhanger (n.) A cat that has just attempted to walk across a swing-lid bin. (see also; Felindre)
Monimail (n.) One of at least ten thousand identical letters sent out by Readers Digest which apparently means that that you, personally, have definitely, without a shadow of doubt, been personally selected to receive a special, personal, limited-edition prize, personally.
Moreton (vb.) Cringeingly afraid of tightening a new guitar string any further in case it snaps.
Murkle (vb.) To blob and bloop in the manner of boiling mud, molten lava or simmering porridge.
Murroes (n.) Tram-lines formed by dragging a fork across mashed potato.
--------- N ---------
Nebo (n.) One of two generic names used by graffitti writers when they can't remember their own. (see also; Fogo). Some inner-city areas appear, to the casual observer, to be inhabited solely by idiots with these names.
Nedging (vb.) Making short-range shuffling movements to close the gaps in a queue. The resulting physical compaction has no effect whatsoever on the actual waiting time, but anyone who forgets or refuses to Nedge will invariably receive very dark looks from the rest of the queue.
Nereabolls (n.) Pimples, blackheads or boils on the threshold of eruption.
Nether Stowey (n.) A spare hanky kept tucked into the underpants.
Nethercleuch (vb.) Of human males, to experience a queasy sympathetic reaction in the nether regions upon hearing the words “eunuch” or “castration”.
Netherwitton (n.) The serial-heckler at the back of the audience who thinks he is more entertaining than the person onstage.
New Brighton (n.) A blatant geographical misnomer (the place in question is anything but New and hardly ever Bright).
Newburgh (vb.) To bestow a fresh name upon a place in the hope that it will fool the public into forgetting whatever vile event took place there. e.g. Windscale became Sellafield after the radiation leaks, Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd for political reasons, Trumpton was renamed Camberwick Green after the scandal of the secret biological-weapons factory under the band-concert podium.
Newsham (n.) A sneeze that almost happens, goes away for a bit, then returns with renewed vigour just when you're least expecting it. Newshams account for some 50% of Page Moss (q.v.). See also; Halsnead.
Newton Poppleford (n.) A crackpot theorist who believes that he will overturn science and the laws of physics as we know them. Since the rise of the Internet, Newton Popplefords have received more public attention than real scientists.
Newton Purcell (n.) A subcutaneous cluster of cells, or “proto-zit”, which waits beneath a Nereaboll (qv) to immediately start a new one.
Newton-le-Willows (n.) A little-known member of Robin Hood's band whose job it was to calculate the optimum height from which to drop out of the trees during an ambush. The formula used was; dPo/dPy = (d-(s+h/2)).G.T-2, Where Po,Py are the probabilities of knocking out your opponent or yourself, d,s,h are the heights of drop, sherriff's man and his horse, G is acceleration due to gravity, and T is the the Square Root of the tree.
Newtonloan (n.) A phenomenon similar to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle whereby cartoon characters can “borrow” negative gravitational energy just long enough to facilitate a scramble back onto whatever it is they fell off.
Newtown of Beltrees (n.) Any 1960's housing estate as it appears on the architects plans, with cute little graphics denoting trees, elegant plazas and happy strolling pedestrians on elevated walkways. This bears little or no resemblance to the grim inhuman concrete jungle that is actually built.
Norton Malreward (n.) Someone who revels in telling you that “only the good die young” or “no good deed goes unpunished” or “a good samaritan is just a good target”. A believer in Reverse Karma.
--------- O ---------
Old Fletton (n.) Generic term for the remnants of old schoolroom projectiles (mostly chewed up balls of paper) festooning desks, ceilings, backs of teacher's heads, etc. English boarding-schools boast some of the finest patinas of Old Fletton in the world, having been accumulating it far longer than most.
Orrell (n.) A nasty after-taste caused by Penketh (q.v.) on a pencil with a cheap gritty rubber on the top.
Overstowey (n.) The sort of person who keeps a 5-year supply of frozen food in the cellar just in case we're invaded by Martians.
--------- P ---------
Page Moss (n. collective) The unidentifiable discolourations and stains in library books which make you wonder what the hell the previous borrowers were eating, drinking or doing whilst reading them. (see also; Newsham).
Painters Forstal (n.) A short speech, or preamble, given by garage staff to those who have come to collect their car after re-spraying. Phrases such as “it may not be an EXACT colour match” are employed to prepare the customer for the shock.
Palnackie (n.) A drunk who drapes himself around your neck and won't let go until you have agreed with him at least seven times that he is your best mate (or vice versa).
Path of Condie (n.) A complex mathematical function describing the random-walk taken by a salt-shaker during a meal in a restaurant. It is one of the pivotal equations of Bistromathics. Also known as the Travelling Saltcellar Problem, it is only soluble in polynomial brine.
Pease Pottage (n.) A home-made meal of your grannie's devising which you have never tasted the like of since and have never been able to duplicate despite having all the necessary ingredients. The missing ingredient is in fact a set of youthful taste-buds unsullied by years of abuse with alcohol, tobacco or curries.
Peasley Cross (vb.) A diversionary tactic used on infants who refuse to eat their vegetables. Basically, it involves waving some interesting-looking object around to divert their attention long enough to ram a spoonfull of dinner into their open mouth.
Pebmarsh (n.) The area of floor within a 6 foot radius of a baby's feeding chair.
Penderyn (vb.) Wondering where the hell the pencil you had a second ago has got to. The quickest way to find it is to go and get another one, as this will immediately render the lost one visible again.
Penketh (vb.) Involuntary chewing or nibbling at the tops of pens and pencils during deep thought or serious pondering. (Watson, writing of Holmes; “it was clearly a three pencil problem”.)
Perkins Village (n.) A “Psycho” theme park.
Peterstonsuper-ely (n.) Dismally unsuccesful British attempt at a computer game character to rival Sonic the Hedgehog.
Pillerton Priors (n.) The feeling that you're never going to be able to swallow the enormous tablets you've just been prescribed.
Pinwherry (n.) The nagging feeling that someone, somewhere, knows all of your Personal Identification Numbers and Internet Passwords and is not afraid to use them.
Plaish (n.) The sound of a wet fish being introduced to a hot frying pan.
Polgooth (n.) A Monty Python fan who can recite the Parrott Sketch verbatim.
Portwrinkle (n.) An affliction of seafarers after shore leave in the less salubrious parts of the world.
Posso (n.) Collective term for the crowd of drunks who form an appreciative audience around somebody even drunker. The most inebriated member of the Posso may in turn become the focus should the original become unconscious.
Poulton-cum-Spittle (n.) A publishing house specialising in books on the history, design and manufacture of ceramic urinals and spittoons.
Presnerb (n.) A youth who cannot walk past a pedestrian-crossing without unnecessarily pressing the button.
Prudhoe (n.) An old or unserviceable rake, hoe or other handled implement retained by farmers for the purpose of poking dead sheep to see if they really are dead.
Pumpherston (n.) One who feels the need to plump up all the cushions in a room before they can settle down to do anything else.
--------- Q ---------
Quakers Yard (n.) That corner of the garden which fills up with retching drunks towards the tail end of a party.
--------- R ---------
Radnage (n.) Psychological unit, being a measure of the wear-and-tear on one's sanity from Advertising. (See also; Adversane)
Rainhill Stoops (n.) A stereotype posture, shoulders hunched, collar up, head down, hands in pockets, adopted by actors when walking through deserted city streets at night, especially in the wind and rain. A master of this moody posture was Bumphrey Gocart, who was said to have spent up to 3 hours per day perfecting it, and to have been secretly flown to Wigan for two weeks every year to seek out exactly the right sort of dismal weather conditions to practise it in.
Raploch (n.) A condition afflicting certain musicians, whereby they are unable to escape from a tiny localised basin of attraction within the almost boundless landscapes of harmonic/melodic/rhythmic phase-space.
Rhandirmwyn (n.) An over-amorous sheep farmer.
Rhosybol (adj.) Descriptive of the impossibly vigorous, bushy and colourful appearance of plants and flowers in gardening catalogs.
Rochdale (n.) A retirement-home for pot-heads, similar to Grassendale (see above), but covering the North of England (a third home, “Dunspliffin”, is situated in Scotland).
Rudgeway (n.) A pathway eroded by people taking the shortest route across a park or grassy area instead of the slightly longer official one. Enlightened planners have now learned to defer the laying of paths until Rudgeways have formed naturally, as these can then be paved-over and adopted as the official routes.
Ruecastle (vb.) To feel rather sad when the tide obliterates your lovingly constructed sandcastle.
Rumbach (n.) A Welsh ballroom dance.
Rushock (n.) That part of a horror film where the slow/lumbering/limping monster/alien/psychopath unexpectedly leaps out in front of the victim, who despite running much faster for the past half-hour has apparently gained no ground whatsoever.
Rusper (n.) One who is skilled in the art of opening packets of sweets very quietly inside their pocket so that they don't have to share them with anyone.
--------- S ---------
Sarclet (n.) A child in training to be an insulting and sarcastic adult.
Sawtry (n.) The 5 or 6 token strokes you make with a hand-saw before deciding to go and get the electric one.
Sedgeberrow (n.) A neighbour who neither owns nor intends to buy any gardening equipment because he has most of your's on permanent loan.
Shelfanger (n.) Supermarket Rage.
Shoeburyness (n. of animals, see Liff for other usage) A mood that comes over domestic dogs, whereby they feel compelled to carry off your possessions and bury them in the flower bed.
Shurlock Row (n.) A rigged police line-up in which the suspect sticks out like a sore thumb.
Shutlanger (n.) That part of a garage door designed to cause the most noise.
Slacks of Cairnbanno (n.) Male trousering so gaudy that even golf clubs won’t allow them.
Smailholm (n.) A holiday postcard which takes longer to get back home than the sender.
Smethwick (n.) A game invented by entertainment-starved monks. The winner is the one who can snuff out the most candles using only their tongue.
Snig’s End (n.) The moment when a suppressed guffaw can be contained no longer. (see also; Inverquharity)
South Creake (n.) A grinding or scraping noise in the lower-joints which tells you that you are getting far too old to be doing whatever it is you're doing.
Splottlands (n.) What's left of a forest after use as a paintball range.
St Cleer (n.) The patron saint of catalytic convertors.
St Helens (n.) The patron saint of Volcanoes.
St Michaels (n.) The patron saint of Underwear.
St Pauls Cray (n.) A little-known early mechanical calculating device, pre-dating Babbage's “difference engine” by several centuries, but never developed further because for some reason it worked in Base 13 using Reverse Sideways Polish Notation and gave the answer in Roman Numerals.
Standish (vb.) To be lingering at the foot of the stairs with the TV-remote in one hand, about to go to bed, but unable to actually go because you keep finding just one more interesting item to watch. Some people have been known to watch entire movies whilst caught in a Standish condition. Others have been discovered the next morning, still there, insisting that “just another five minutes” and they'll be off to bed.
Stisted (adj) Stretched, twisted, kinked and knotted in the manner of the average telephone-cord or hairdryer-lead, etc. Helical or coiled leads may also feature a Kinkell Bridge (qv)
Stoneley (vb.) Wistfully desirous of giving up ones job and going off to live in a Stoneycroft (q.v.).
Stoney Stanton (n.) Someone who refuses to join in the fun.
Stoneycroft (n.) The sort of picturesque rural cottage that looks idyllic on a postcard, but which to those who actually have to live in it is a cold, damp, decaying pile of bug-infested rubble.
Stour Provost (n.) Someone who tries to get a Stoney Stanton (qv) to join in the fun.
Stow Bardolph (n.) Someone who tries to get a Stour Provost (qv) to give up trying to get a Stoney Stanton (qv) to join in the fun.
Strang (n.) The sound of an electric guitar falling over whilst still plugged in. (The actual chord produced by the open strings is Em7add2, or Em11no9, or G6/9, or A11no3rd. Such is the silliness of chord nomenclature).
Strathcoil (n.) The Holy Grail of talentless lead guitarists … a mythical replacement pickup which when fitted to your guitar will instantly make you sound like Hendrix, Clapton, etc.
Strathpeffer (vb.) To play about with the controls of an aircraft so as to leave rude morse-code messages in the contrail.
Stretton Grandison (n.) Characteristic stance adopted by members of Status Quo. Stretton Minor appears similar but involves more animation in the legs e.g. early John Lennon.
Strone (vb.) Completely exhausted after a long session of air guitar.
Strumpshaw (n.) A lead-guitarist who considers Chords (or anyone who plays them) as beneath his dignity.
Suishnish (adj.) In the mood to pull back curtains with a flourish.
Sunwick (n.) Someone for whom the weather can never be too hot.
Surfleet (vb.) Able to receive far more satellite-TV channels than you could ever possibly have a use for.
Sutton Leach (n.) A person who maintains that they don't like or even understand computer games, yet who upon being introduced to one won't let anyone else get near it for the next 10 hours. “Tetris” on the Gameboy is particularly prone to Sutton Leaches.
Swefling (vb.) To rotate in pursuit of a second armhole when donning a coat, sweater or other sleeved garment. The human equivalent of a dog chasing it's own tail. Normally observed only in small children, drunks and Norman Wisdom.
Swyre (vb.) To narrowly avert swearing by hasty substitution of trailing syllables (e.g. oh shiiiiaaaame)
Sychtyn (vb.) Use of anti-synchronous body-language , for example deliberately walking out-of-step with someone you don't like.
--------- T ---------
Tadcaster (n.) The member of a TV news team who delivers the novelty item at the end, prefacing it with the words “and finally”. Items considered suitable for Tadcasting are;- 1. celebrity gossip. 2. humorous incidents. 3. inconsequential trivia. 4. groundbreaking scientific discoveries and achievements.
Tangmere (n.) Collective term for the unorganised mass of cables festooning the average PC.
Theddingworth (n..) A D.I.Y. enthusiast who can produce the maximum amount of noise and vibration for the minimum number of jobs actually done. (May indicate the presence of a Low Eggborough (see Liff))
Thingwall (n.) A brick wall which stands entirely on it's own in the middle of nowhere, has been there for as long as anyone can remember, serves no purpose whatsoever, but is never, ever, pulled down. Most towns in Britain have at least one Thingwall, usually a vestigial fragment of some larger structure long since demolished, which has somehow survived, and is now meticulously maintained by the council whilst all around it falls into decay.
Thirlspot (n.) The place where a domestic cat, in deference to inherited ancestral urges, turns around three times to flatten the grass before it settles down, even though it is quite clearly standing on solid concrete.
Thornton Hough (n.) A very gentle and cautious half-cough performed by a person with an extremely sore throat and/or masses of loose mucus.
Thurstaston (n.) A small card that police officers carry, on which are written unpronounceable tongue-twisters which they ask you to recite as a test for drunkenness (and also, one suspects, for their own personal amusement).
Tifty (vb.) Just bursting to have a pointless argument about something completely irrelevant for no reason whatsoever.
Timpanheck (vb.) To admit defeat after a long hard struggle with the video timer.
Timworth (n.) A child who condescendingly instructs parents on how to set the video timer.
Tranmere (n. collective) The stampede of people trying to get out of the cinema the instant the credits start to roll. (Not many people are aware of the small print on some cinema tickets which states “the management cannot be held legally responsible for injuries sustained to patrons during the Tranmere”).
Trewalder (vb.) To involuntarily lurch about while playing joystick-controlled computer games. (see also Imber, Liff).
Trewoon (vb.) To Trewalder (q.v.) to such an extent that you fall off the chair.
--------- U/V ---------
Ulrome (vb.) To curl the tip of the tongue around and play with the two spongy pads underneath. May on occasion precipitate a Skoonspruit (see Liff)
Up Sydling (vb.) Corrective sequential re-allocation of buttons on a garment being worn Cardurnock (qv) style.
Upper Godney (n.) The more persistent of the pair of Jehovah's Witnesses at your front door.
Upper Nobut (n.) The vacant top button-hole on a garment being worn Cardurnock (qv) style.
Vatten (vb.) To annihilate a fledgling business by application of tax.
--------- W ---------
Wadshelf (n.) External fleshy protrusion formed when your dentist rams you full of cotton wool. Some dentists make use of the Wadshelf as a temporary tool-rest.
Wallasey (vb.) Descriptive of the depleted state of a church organist who has just played the whole of Bach's Toccata in D minor at twice the normal speed because he misread the tempo at the beginning.
Warbreck (n. archaic) Traditional Scottish method for initiating a pub-fight. The Warbreck, consisting of a long strip of tartan cloth, is laid on the floor in front of the intended opponent, who is then warned; “See that! Cross it and I'll kill ye!”. (Nowadays of course this has all been simplified to the much more succinct “did you spill my pint”).
Wargrave (adj.) Tone of voice deemed necessary when doing voice-overs for serious documentaries.
Warrington (n, collective.) A gang of hooligans that suddenly appears where seconds earlier there was a perfectly polite and orderly bus-queue, the transformation being triggered by the arrival of an actual bus.
Wavertree (vb.) Unable to decide whether to hang about for 1p change on a £9.99 item. To wait shows that you're a miser. To not wait seems impolite. A possible compromise is to run out shouting “you can keep the Kibblesworth”, in the hope that those present may have read The Meaning of Liff.
Wem (n.) Permanent thin-ness of the lips brought about by sucking too many lemons.
Willaston (n.) Someone who only goes to the races in the hope of seeing a spectacular accident (at least half the punters on any given day will be Willastons).
Windermere (n.) An almost-invisible, porous, grommet-like device fitted to double-glazing units. It's function is to allow the window to steam-up and become useless about a week after the guarantee runs out, and to allow just enough oxygen in to facilitate the survival of Harbottles (see Liff)
Windle (vb.) The diminution of inadequately insulated male genitalia in very cold weather.
Windlehurst (n.) A thermal insert for the prevention of Windle-ing (q.v.). Not to be confused with a Glenwhilly (see Liff).
Windy Arbour (n.) A type of concrete-and-glass “shelter” found uniquely along the prom at British seaside resorts. They are apparently designed to make one feel even colder, wetter and more windblown than if one had stayed outside. Special architectural features include carefully-angled roof slats to focus the rain onto the occupants, neck-level draught-enhancers, ankle-level gust-gaps, and overhead struts from where the seagulls can get a good steady aim when crapping onto your sandwiches.
Winwick (n.) In monasteries, the start of the Smethwick (q.v.) season.
Wistanstow (vb.) A process which prevents lofts or attics from ever being cleared out. Items for sorting are unpacked, dusted off, fondly reminisced over, then shoved into a different corner of the loft for another 10 years.
Witherenden (n.) Feeling of panic upon noticing it's the last Viagra in the pack.
Wivelrod (n.) A tremolo arm for a trumpet.
Wolfclyde (n.) Honorary title given to the member of a gang of workmen who is posted as look-out for females to letch at.
Woodhey (adj.) The horsey-ness of words like “Gymkhana” and “Johdpurs”.
Woodplumpton (n.) Common name for a herb, extracts of which were once thought to have Viagra-like properties (Botanical name; Gladiolus Expandiferum)
Woolfardisworthy (n.) Old English by-law, stating that escaped sheep wandering three or more furlongs from home may be captured and sold back to the farmer at one third their market value in the next village in the direction they were last travelling.
--------- X/Y/Z ---------
Yetts O'Muckhart (n.archaic) Traditional street cry of the travelling manure salesman as he pushes his barrow, one hopes swiftly, by. The phrase may have evolved via increasingly slurred renditions of “loads of muck on the cart”.
*** NOTES ***
All the place names I’ve used are real, and all have been British up to now, partly because I find British place names more humorous, but mostly because the only map books I own are the “A.A. Complete Atlas of Britain” and the “A-to-Z of Liverpool”.
In the original Liff books, most of the definitions described objects or events in the real world, but there was also a sub-set of "archaic" definitions which were entirely fictitious, and this tendency often carries on when others such as myself make up definitions.
Thanks to Paul and Peter Kenny for the “Cardurnock” idea.
“Strumpshaw” was Wingpig's idea with my wording, and it also prompted me to do some of the musical ones.
The two definitions “Haxted” and “Henglers” are not true Liff-isms as they use Street names, not place names. However, with so many place names being already used up I think it’s about time we started raiding streets, roads and avenues, etc.
A few of the Liff-isms in this collection were used several years ago in a fanzine called “Asparagus Mustard”, published by Stuart Bruce and “Chog”. I'm sure they won't mind them being included here. Most were written at various times since then.
IF I have accidentally duplicated any existing Liff-isms please let me know. For example I’m sure the ideas in “Empshott” and “Windermere” will have already been done by somebody somewhere, or maybe not.
Some of my personal favourites in the above collection are … Ainstable, Audlem, Havering-atte-Bower, Hinton Blewett, Trewoon.
The reason for using a particular place-name is sometimes blindingly obvious (as in "Ashcombe"), sometimes a bit less so (as in "Apperknowle" - which was suggestive of "apertures, a knowledge of"), and sometimes quite subtle, calling upon vague linguistic resonances and even vaguer associations between images and memories from disparate and dusty corners of the Collective Unconscious. Except, of course, that there is NO such thing as the Collective Unconscious ... or Synchronicity ... or Psychokinesis ... or Zeus ... or genuine crop circles ... or Feng Shui "energies" ... or spontaneous human combustion, etc, etc.
Dave Rogers, Walton, Liverpool.