the deeper meaning of liff

If you ever wondered what placenames such as Wendens Ambo, Tooting Bec or Penge really mean, this book is for you.

More importantly though, if you ever were struggling in vain to remember a name for a thing for which there isn’t a word in English or any other language you know, this book again is for you. Of course, the words for this second use would be impossible to find if not for Index of Meanings which goes like this:

components, small: Pimlico
holes in brogues: Tockholes
letters to editor: Dalderby
noises, distant: Amersham
smiles, shiny: Ewelme

The picture on the cover of this particular edition is that of Glenwhilly.

The Deeper Meaning of Liff

Epping (ptcpl. vb.)
The futile movements of forefingers and eyebrows used when failing to attract the attention of waiters and barmen.

Exeter (n.)
All light household and electrical goods contain a number of vital components plus at least one exeter.
If you’ve just mended a fuse, changed a bulb or fixed a blender, the exeter is the small plastic piece left over which means you have to undo everything and start all over again.

Gretna Green (adj.)
A shade of green which makes you wish you’d painted whatever it was a different colour.

Ipswich (n.)
The sound at the other end of the telephone which tells you that the automatic exchange is working very hard but is intending not actually to connect you this time, merely to let you know how difficult it is.

Swaffham Bulbeck (n.)
An entire picnic lunchtime spent fighting off wasps.

Thrupp (vb.)
To hold a ruler on one end on a desk and make the other end go bbddbbddbbrrbrrrddrr.

Yarmouth (vb.)
To shout at foreigners in the belief that the louder you speak, the better they’ll understand you.

Zumbo (n.)
One who pretends not to know that the exhaust has fallen off his car.

Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, The Deeper Meaning of Liff


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