The Meaning of Liff.

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A little dab'll do
Aug 13, 2004
I bought this book many years ago and it still raises a smile when I dip into it from time to time. Oh to have that comedic creative gene. [:D]

The Meaning of Liff

By Douglas Adams and John Lloyd

In Life*, there are many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist.
On the other hand, the world is littererd with thousands of spare words which spend their time doing nothing but loafing about on signposts pointing at places.
Our job, as we see it, is to get these words down off the signposts and into the mouths of babes and sucklings and so on, where they can start earning their keep in everyday conversation and make a more positive contribution to society.

A liqueur made only for drinking at the end of a revoltingly long bottle party when all the drinkable drink has been drunk.

Of amateur actors, to adopt a Mexican accent when called upon to play any variety of foreigner (except Pakistanis - from whom a Welsh accent is considered sufficient).

To strongly desire to swing from the pole on the rear foot plate of a bus.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The centrepiece of a merry-go-round on which the man with the tickets stands unnervingly still.

The sort of fart you hope people will talk after.

A puddle which is hidden under a pivoted paving stone. You only know it's there when you step on the paving stone and the puddle shoots up your leg.

A dispute between two pooves in a boutique.

AHENNY (adj.)
The way people stand when examining other people's bookshelves.

Any piece of readily identifiable anatomy found amongst cooked meat.

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.

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.

The length of time it takes to get served in a camera shop. Hence, also, how long we will have to wait for the abolition of income tax or the Second Coming.

AIRD OF SLEAT (n. archaic)
Ancient Scottish curse placed from afar on the stretch of land now occupied by Heathrow Airport.

AITH (n.)
The single bristle that sticks out sideways on a cheap paintbrush.

A shapeless squiggle which is utterly unlike your normal signature, but which is, nevertheless, all you are able to produce when asked formally to identify yourself. Muslims, whose religion forbids the making of graven images, use albuquerques to d******e their towels, menu cards and pyjamas.

One who collects ten-year-old telephone directories.

The ancient art of being able to balance the hot and cold shower taps.

A talk given about the Facts of Life by a father to his son whilst walking in the garden on a Sunday afternoon.

The sneeze which tickles but never comes. (Thought to derive from the Metropolitan Line tube station of the same name where the rails always rattle but the train never arrives.)

A British Rail sandwich which has been kept soft by being regularly washed and resealed in clingfilm.

ARAGLIN (n. archaic)
A medieval practical joke played by young squires on a knight aspirant the afternoon he is due to start his vigil. As the knight arrives at the castle the squires attempt to raise the drawbridge very suddenly as the knight and his charger step on to it.

A remote acquaintance passed off as 'a very good friend of mine' by someone trying to impress people.

Excuse made by rural Welsh hairdresser for completely massacring your hair.

Excuse made by rural Welsh hairdresser for deep wounds inflicted on your scalp in an attempt to rectify whatever it was that induced the ardscalpsie (q.v.).

Adjective which describes the behaviour of Sellotape when you are tired.

A clever architectural construction designed to give the illusion from the top deck of a bus that it is far too big for the road.

AYNHO (vb.)
Of waiters, never to have a pen.

Something which justifies having a really good cry.

The sharp prong on the top of a tree stump where the tree has snapped off before being completely sawn through.

One of the six half-read books lying somewhere in your bed.

BANFF (adj.)
Pertaining to, or descriptive of, that kind of facial expression which is impossible to achieve except when having a passport photograph taken.

BANTEER (n. archaic)
A lusty and raucous old ballad sung after a particularly spectacular araglin (q.v.) has been pulled off.

A humorous device such as a china horse or small naked porcelain infant which jocular hosts use to mick water into your Scotch with.

That kind of large fierce ugly woman who owns a small fierce ugly dog.

A fitted eleasticated bottom sheet which turns your mattress bananashaped.

BEALINGS (pl. n. archaic)
The unsavoury parts of a moat which a knight has to pour out of his armour after being the victim of an araglin (q.v.). In medieval Flanders, soup made from bealings was a very slightly sought-after delicacy.

The optimum vantage point from which one to view people undressing in the bedroom across the street.

BECCLES (pl. n.)
The small bone buttons placed in bacon sandwiches by unemployed guerrilla dentist.

A lurching sensation in the pit of the stomach experienced at breakfast in a hotel, occasioned by the realisation that it is about now that the chamber- maid will have discovered the embarrassing stain on your bottom sheet.

A knob of someone else's chewing gum which you unexpectedly find your hand resting on under a desk top, under the passenger seat of your car or on somebody's thigh under their skirt.

The sort of man who becomes a returning officer.

The irrevocable and sturdy fart released in the presence of royalty, which sounds quite like a small motorbike passing by (but not enough to be confused with one).

The massive three-course midmorning blow-out enjoyed by a dieter who has already done his or her slimming duty by having a teaspoonful of cottage cheese for breakfast.

1. The shape of a gourmet's lips.
2. The droplet of saliva which hangs from them.

A pimple so hideous and enormous that you have to cover it with sticking plaster and pretend you've cut yourself shaving.

An opening gambit before a game of chess whereby the missing pieces are replaced by small ornaments from the mantelpiece.

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.

A look someone gives you by which you become aware that they're much too drunk to have understood anything you've said to them in the last twenty minutes.

The little slivers of bamboo picked off a cane chair by a nervous guest which litter the carpet beneath and tell the chair's owner that the whole piece of furniture is about to uncoil terribly and slowly until it resembles a giant pencil sharpening.

The irrational and inevitable discrepancy between the amount pooled and the amount needed when a large group of people try to pay a bill together after a meal.

One of those brown plastic trays with bumps on, placed upside down in boxes of chocolates to make you think you're-getting two layers.

Of plumbing in old hotels, to make loud and unexplained noises in the night, particularly at about five o'clock in the morning.

BOOLTEENS (pl. n.)
The small scatterings of foreign coins and half-p's which inhabit dressing tables. Since they are never used and never thrown away boolteens account for a significant drain on the world's money supply.

1. The man in the pub who slaps people on the back as if they were old friends, when in fact he has no friends, largely on account of this habit. 2. Any story told by Robert Morley on chat shows.

A huge pyramid of tin cans placed just inside the entrance to a supermarket.

One who spends all day loafing about near pedestrian crossing looking as if he's about to cross.

The principle by which British roads are signposted.

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.

Huge benign tumours which archdeacons and old chemistry teachers affect to wear on the sides of their noses.

A small, long-handled steel trowel used by surgeons to remove the contents of a patient's nostrils prior to a sinus operation.

A school teacher's old hairy jacket, now severely discoloured by chalk dust, ink, egg and the precipitations of unedifying chemical reactions.

One who is skilled in the art of naming loaves.

BRECON (n. anatomical trem)
That part of the toenail which is designed to snag on nylon sheets.

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.)

BROATS (pl. n.)
A pair of trousers with a career behind them. Broats are most commonly seen on elderly retired army officers. Originally the brats were part of their best suit back in the thirties; then in the fifties they were demonted and used for gardening. Recently pensions not being what they were, the broats have been called out of retirement and reinstated as part of the best suit again.

A bromton is that which is said to have been committed when you are convinced you are about to blow off with a resounding trumpeting noise in a public place and all that actually slips out is a tiny 'pfpt'.

Any urban environment containing a small amount of dogturd and about forty-five tons of bent steel pylon or a lump of concrete with holes claiming to be sculpture. 'Oh, come my dear, and come with me. And wander 'neath the bromsgrove tree' - Betjeman.

One who has been working at that same desk in the same office for fifteen years and has very much his own ideas about why he is continually passed over for promotion.

The fake antique plastic seal on a pretentious whisky bottle.

The single unappetising bun left in a baker's shop after four p.m.

BUDBY (n.)
A nipple clearly defined through flimsy or wet material.

BUDE (n.)
A polite joke reserved for use in the presence of vicars.

a virulent red-coloured pus which generally accompanies clonmult (q.v.) and sandberge (q.v.)

The sound made by a liftful of people all trying to breathe politely through their noses.

BURES (n. medical)
The scabs on knees and elbows formed by a compulsion to make love on cheap Habitat floor-matting.

BURLESTON (n., vb.)
That peculiarly tuneless humming and whistling adopted by people who are extremely angry.

BURLINGJOBB (n.archaic)
A seventeenth-century crime by which excrement is thrown into the street from a ground-floor window.

BURNT YATES (pl. n.)
Condition to which yates (q.v.) will suddenly pass without any apparent interviewing period, after the spirit of the throckmorton (q.v.) has finally been summoned by incessant throcking (q.v.)

The bluebottle one is too tired to get up and start, but not tired enough to sleep through.

A bunch of keys found in a drawer whose purpose has long been forgotten, and which can therefore now be used only for dropping down people's backs as a cure for nose-bleeds.

The pleasurable cool sloosh of puddle water over the toes of your gumboots.

The high-pitched and insistent cry of the young female human urging one of its peer group to do something dangerous on a cliff-edge or piece of toxic waste ground.

A large piece of dried dung found in mountainous terrain above the cowline which leads the experienced tracker to believe that hikers have recently passed.

CAMER (n.)
A mis-tossed caber.

In any box of After Eight Mints, there is always a large number of empty envelopes and no more that four or five actual mints. The cannock chase is the process by which, no matter which part of the box you insert your fingers into, or how often, you will always extract most of the empty sachets before pinning down an actual mint, or 'cannock'. The cannock chase also occurs with people who put their dead matches back in the matchbox, and then embarrass themselves at parties trying to light cigarettes with tree quarters of an inch of charcoal. The term is also used to describe futile attempts to pursue unscrupulous advertising agencies who nick your ideas to sell chocolates with.

CHENIES (pl.n.)
The last few sprigs or tassels of last Christmas's decoration you notice on the ceiling while lying on the sofa on an August afternoon.

The foul-smelling wind which precedes an underground railway train.

The disgust and embarrassment (or 'ongar') felt by an observer in the presence of a person festooned with kirbies (q.v.) when they don't know them well enough to tell them to wipe them off, invariably this 'ongar' is accompanied by an involuntary staccato twitching of the leg (or 'chipping').

CLABBY (adj.)
A 'clabby' conversation is one stuck up by a commissionare or cleaning lady in order to avoid any further actual work. The opening gambit is usually designed to provoke the maximum confusion, and therefore the longest possible clabby conversation. It is vitally important to learn the correct, or 'clixby' (q.v.), responses to a clabby gambit, and not to get trapped by a 'ditherington' (q.v.). For instance, if confronted with a clabby gambit such as 'Oh, Mr Smith, I didn't know you'd had your leg off', the ditherington response is 'I haven't....' whereas the clixby is 'good.'

Technical BBC term for a page of dialogue from Blake's Seven.

The sound made by knocking over an elephant's-foot umbrella stand full of walking sticks. Hence name for a particular kind of disco drum riff.

CLATHY (adj.)
Nervously indecisive about how safely to dispose of a dead lightbulb.

CLENCHWARTON (n. archaic)
One who assists an exorcist by squeezing whichever part of the possessed the exorcist deems useful.

CLIXBY (adj.)
Politely rude. Bliskly vague. Firmly uninformative.

A yellow ooze usually found near secretions of buldoo (q.v.) and sadberge (q.v.).

CLOVIS (q.v.)
One who actually looks forward to putting up the Christmas decorations in the office.

CLUN (n.)
A leg which has gone to sleep and has to be hauled around after you.

CLUNES (pl.n.)
People who just won't go.

One who is employed to stand about all day browsing through the magazine racks in the newsagent.

CONG (n.)
Strange-shaped metal utensil found at the back of the saucepan cupboard. Many authorities believe that congs provide conclusive proof of the existence of a now extinct form of yellow vegetable which the Victorians used to boil mercilessly.

CORFE (n.)
An object which is almost totally indistinguishable from a newspaper, the one crucial difference being tat it belongs to somebody else and is unaccountably much more interesting that your own - which may otherwise appear to be in all respects identical. Though it is a rule of life that a train or other public place may contain any number of corfes but only one newspaper, it is quite possible to transform your own perfectly ordinary newspaper into a corfe by the simple expedient of letting somebody else read it.

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.

The moment at which two people approaching from opposite ends of a long passageway, recognise each other and immediately pretend they haven't. This is to avoid the ghastly embarrassment of having to continue recognising each other the whole length of the corridor.

To avert the horrors of corrievorrie (q.v.) corriecravie is usually employed. This is the cowardly but highly skilled process by which both protagonists continue to approach while keeping up the pretence that they haven't noticed each other - by staring furiously at their feet, grimacing into a notebook, or studying the walls closely as if in a mood of deep irritation.

The crucial moment of false recognition in a long passageway encounter. Though both people are perfectly well aware that the other is approaching, they must eventually pretend sudden recognition. They now look up with a glassy smile, as if having spotted each other for the first time, (and are particularly delighted to have done so) shouting out 'Haaaaaallllloooo!' as if to say 'Good grief!! You!! Here!! Of all people! Will I never. Coo. Stap me vitals, etc.'

The dreadful sinking sensation in a long passageway encounter when both protagonists immediately realise they have plumped for the corriedoo (q.v.) much too early as they are still a good thirty yards apart. They were embarrassed by the pretence of corriecravie (q.v.) and decided to make use of the corriedoo because they felt silly. This was a mistake as corrievorrie (q.v.) will make them seem far sillier.

Corridor etiquette demands that one a corriedoo (q.v.) has been declared, corrievorrie must be employed. Both protagonists must now embellish their approach with an embarrassing combination of waving, grinning, making idiot faces, doing pirate impressions, and waggling the head from side to side while holding the other person's eyes as the smile drips off their face, until with great relief, they pass each other.

Word describing the kind of person who can make a complete mess of a simple job like walking down a corridor.

A very short peremptory service held in monasteries prior to teatime to offer thanks for the benediction of digestive biscuits.

A piece of wood used to stir paint and thereafter stored uselessly in a shed in perpetuity.

CRAIL (n. mineral)
Crail is a common kind of rock or gravel found widely across the British Isles. Each individual stone (due to an as yet undiscovered gravitational property) is charged with 'negative buoyancy'. This means that no matter how much crail you remove from the garden, more of it will rise to the surface. Crail is much employed by the Royal Navy for making the paperweights and ashtrays used inside submarines.

A mood of irrational irritation with everyone and everything.

The brittle sludge which clings to the top of ketchup bottles and plastic tomatoes in nasty cafes.

A large wooden or rubber cub which poachers use to despatch cats or other game which they can only sell to Indian restaurants. For particularly small cats the price obtainable is not worth the cost of expending ammunition.

Dalarymples are the things you pay extra for on pieces of hand-made craftwork - the rough edges, the paint smudges and the holes in the glazing.

A certain facial expression which actors are required to demonstrate their mastery of before they are allowed to play Macbeth.

Measure = 0.0000176 mg. Defined as that amount of margarine capable of covering one hundred slices of bread to the depth of one molecule. This is the legal maximum allowed in sandwich bars in Greater London.

DEAL (n.)
The gummy substance found between damp toes.

What street-wise kids do at Christmas. They hide on the rooftops waiting for Santa Claus so that if he arrives and goes down the chimney, they can rip stuff off from his sleigh.

DES MOINES (pl.n.)
The two little lines which come down from your nose.

That part of a hymn (usually a few notes at the end of a verse) where the tune goes so high or low that you suddenly have to change octaves to accommodate it.

(Of the hands or feet.) Prunelike after an overlong bath.

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.

DIDLING (participial vb.)
The process of trying to work out who did it when reading a whodunit, and trying to keep your options open so that when you find out you can allow yourself to think that you knew perfectly well who it was all along.

The kind of bath plug which for some unaccountable reason is actually designed to sit on top of the hole rather than fit into it.

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.

Sudden access to panic experienced by one who realises that he is being drawn inexorably into a clabby (q.v.) conversation, i.e. one he has no hope of enjoying, benefiting from or understanding.

Any music you hear on the radio to which you have to listen very carefully to determine whether it is an advertising jingle or a bona fide record.

DOBWALLS (pl.n.)
The now hard-boiled bits of nastiness which have to be prised off crockery by hand after it has been through a dishwasher.

Facetious behaviour adopted by an accused man in the mistaken belief that this will endear him to the judge.

Of dog-owners, to adopt the absurd pretence that the animal ****ting in the gutter is nothing to do with them.

The clump, or cluster, of bored, quietly enraged, mildly embarrassed men waiting for their wives to come out of a changing room in a dress shop.

A throaty cough by someone else so timed as to obscure the crucial part of the rather amusing remark you've just made.

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 tyres'.

An infuriating person who always manages to look much more dashing that anyone else by turning up unshaven and hungover at a formal party.

Name for a shop which is supposed to be witty but is in fact wearisome, e.g. 'The Frock Exchange', 'Hair Apparent', etc.

A street dance. The two partners approach from opposite directions and try politely to get out of each other's way. They step to the left, step to the right, apologise, step to the left again, apologise again, bump into each other and repeat as often as unnecessary.

A look given by a superior person to someone who has arrived wearing the wrong sort of shoes.

DUDOO (n.)
The most deformed potato in any given collection of potatoes.

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.

Sudden realisation, as you lie in bed waiting for the alarm to go off, that it should have gone off an hour ago.

DULUTH (adj.)
The smell of a taxi out of which people have just got.

A highly specialised fiscal term used solely by turnstile operatives at Regent's Park zoo. It refers to the variable amount of increase in the variable gate takings on a Sunday afternoon, caused by persons going to the zoo because they are in love and believe that the feeling of romance will be somehow enhanced by the smell of panther sweat and rank incontinence in the reptile house.

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.

The name of Charles Bronson's retirement cottage.

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.

The same as west wittering (q.v.) only it's you they've trying to get away from.

The spare seat-cushion carried by a London bus, which is placed against the rear bumper when the driver wishes to indicate that the bus has broken down. No one knows how this charming old custom originated or how long it will continue.

ELY (n.)
The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.

Measure of time and noiselessness defined as the moment between the doors of a lift closing and it beginning to move.

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.

The precise value of the usefulness of epping (q.v.). It is a little-known fact than an earlier draft of the final line of the film Gone with the Wind had Clark Gable saying 'Frankly my dear, i don't give an epworth', the line being eventually changed on the grounds that it might not be understood in Cleveland.

A brown bubble of cheese containing gaseous matter which grows on Welsh rarebit. It was Sir Alexander Flemming's study of eribolls which led, indirectly, to his discovery of the fact that he didn't like Welsh rarebit very much.

ESHER (n.)
One of those push tapes installed in public washrooms enabling the user to wash their trousers without actually getting into the basin. The most powerful esher of recent years was 'damped down' by Red Adair after an incredible sixty-eight days' fight in Manchester's Piccadilly Station.

The look given by a group of polite, angry people to a rude, calm queuebarger.

The smile bestowed on you by an air hostess.

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, flat or round plastic or bakelite piece left over which means you have to undo everything and start all over again.

Polite word for buggery.

FARDUCKMANTON (n. archaic)
An ancient edict, mysteriously omitted from the Doomsday Book, requiring that the feeding of fowl on village ponds should be carried out equitably.

The feeling you get about four o'clock in the afternoon when you haven't got enough done.

A long and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to undo someone's bra.

FEAKLE (vb.)
To make facial expressions similar to those that old gentlemen make to young girls in the playground.

FINUGE (vb.)
In any division of foodstuffs equally between several people, to give yourself the extra slice left over.

The safe place you put something and then forget where it was.

One of those irritating handle-less slippery translucent plastic bags you get in supermarkets which, no matter how you hold them, always contrive to let something fall out.

An ankle-length gabardine or oilskin tarpaulin worn by deep-sea herring fishermen in Arbroath and publicans in Glasgow.

To queue-jump very 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.

A taxi driver's gesture, a raised hand pointed out of the window which purports to mean 'thank you' and actually means '**** off out of the way'.

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.

A kind of burglar alarm usage. It is cunningly designed so that it can ring at full volume in the street without apparently disturbing anyone. Other types of framlingams are burglar alarms fitted to business premises in residential areas, which go off as a matter of regular routine at 5.31 p.m. on a Friday evening and do not get turned off til 9.20 a.m. on Monday morning.

FRANT (n.)
Measure. The legal minimum distance between two trains on the District and Circle line of the London Underground. A frant, which must be not less than 122 chains (or 8 leagues) long, is not connected in any way with the adjective 'frantic' which comes to us by a completely different route (as indeed do the trains).

The shade of green which is supposed to make you feel comfortable in hospitals, industrious in schools and uneasy in police stations.

Exaggerated carefree saunter adopted by Norman Wisdom as an immediate prelude to dropping down an open manhole.

FRING (n.)
The noise made by light bulb which has just shone its last.

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.

FROSSES (pl.n.)
The lecherous looks exchanged between sixteen-year-olds at a party given by someone's parents.

FULKING (participial vb.)
Pretending not to be in when the carol-singers come round.

A form of particularly long sparse sideburns which are part of the mandatory uniform of British Rail guards.

Of the behaviour of a bottom lip trying to spit mouthwash after an injection at the dentist. Hence, loose, floppy, useless. 'She went suddenly Gallipoli in his arms' - Noel Coward.

GANGES (n. rare : colonial Indian)
Leg-rash contracted from playing too much polo. (It is a little-known fact that Prince Charles is troubled by ganges down the inside of his arms.)
Useful specially new-coined word for an illegitimate child (in order to distinguish it from soneone who merely carves you up on the motorway, etc.)

Descriptive of a joke someone tells you which starts well, but which becomes so embellished in the telling that you start to weary of it after scarcely half an hour.

GIPPING (participial vb.)
The fish-like opening and closing of the jaws seen amongst people who have recently been to the dentist and are puzzled as to whether their teeth have been put back the right way up.

The feeling of infinite sadness engendered when walking through a place filled with happy people fifteen years younger than yourself.

A seaside pebble which was shiny and interesting when wet, and which is now a lump of rock, which children nevertheless insist on filing their suitcases with after the holiday.

The state of a barrister's flat greasy hair after wearing a wig all day.

The kind of guilt which you'd completely forgotten about which comes roaring back on discovering an old letter in a cupboard.

A particular kind of tartan hold-all, made exclusive under licence for British Airways. When waiting to collect your luggage from an airport conveyor belt, you will notice that on the next conveyor belt along there is always a single, solitary bag going round and round uncollected. This is a glentaggart, which has been placed there by the baggage-handling staff to take your mind off the fact that your own luggage will shortly be landing in Murmansk.

GLENTIES (pl.n.)
Series of small steps by which someone who has made a serious tactical error in a conversion or argument moves from complete disagreement to wholehearted agreement.

A small tartan pouch worn beneath the kilt during the thistle-harvest.

A hat which politicians buy to go to Russia in.

One who takes pleasure in informing others about their bowel movements.

A rouge blob of food. Glossops, which are generally streaming hot and highly adhesive invariably fall off your spoon and on to the surface of your host's highly polished antique-rosewood dining table. If this has not, or may not have, been noticed by the company present, swanage (q.v.) may be employed.

The place where food can be stored after having a tooth extracted. Some Arabs can go without sustenance for up to six weeks on a full glutt lodge, hence the expression 'the **** of the dessert'.

Someone who stops Jon Cleese on the street and demands that he does a funny walk.

Wonderful rush of relief on discovering that the ely (q.v.) and the wembley (q.v.) were in fact false alarms.

GOLANT (adj.)
Blank, sly and faintly embarrassed. Pertaining to the expression seen on the face of someone who has clearly forgotten your name.

GOOLE (n.)
The puddle on the bar into which the barman puts your change.

GOOSECRUIVES (pl. n. archaic)
A pair of wooden trousers worn by poultry-keepers in the Middle Ages.

Something left over from preparing or eating a meal, which you store in the fridge despite the fact that you know full well you will never ever use it.

A fat book containing four words and six cartoons which cost 6.95.

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.

Someone who continually annoys you by continually apologising for annoying you.

A shade of green which makes you wish you'd painted whatever it was a different colour.

A small bush from which cartoon characters dangle over the edge of a cliff.

A lump of something gristly and foul tasting concealed in a mouthful of stew or pie. Grimsbies are sometimes merely the result of careless cookery, but more often they are placed there deliberately by Freemasons. Grimsbies can be purchased in bulk from any respectable Masonic butcher on giving him the secret Masonic handbag. One is then placed in a guests food to see if he knows the correct masonic method of dealing with it. If the guest is not a Mason, the host may find it entertaining to watch how he handles the obnoxious object. It may be

(a) manfully swallowed, invariably bringing tears to the eyes,

(b) chewed with resolution for up to twenty minutes before eventually resorting to method (a),

(c) choked on fatally.

The Masonic handshake is easily recognised by another Mason incidentally, for by it a used grimsby is passed from hand to hand. The secret Masonic method for dealing with a grimsby is as follows : remove it carefully with the silver tongs provided, using the left hand. Cross the room to your host, hopping on one leg, and ram the grimsby firmly up his nose, shouting, 'Take that, you smug Masonic b*****d.'

The state of a lady's clothing after she has been to powder her nose and has hitched up her tights over her skirt at the back, thus exposing her bottom, and has walked out without noticing it.

Queasy but unbowed. The kind of feeling one gets when discovering a plastic compartment in a fridge in which thing are growing.

GWEEK (n.)
A coat hanger recycled as a car aerial.

A sharp instrument placed in the washing-up bowl which makes it easier to cut yourself.

Someone who looked a lot more attractive in the disco than they do in your bed the next morning.

An adhesive fibrous cloth used to hold babies' clothes together. Thousands of tiny pieces of jam 'hook' on to thousands of tiny-pieces of dribble, enabling the cloth to become 'sticky'.

The green synthetic astroturf on which greengrocers display their vegetables.

The sound of a single-engined aircraft flying by, heard whilst lying in a summer field in England, which somehow concentrates the silence and sense of space and timelessness and leaves one with a profound feeling of something or other.

HAPPLE (vb.)
To annoy people by finishing their sentences for them and then telling them what they really meant to say.

To manoeuvre a double mattress down a winding staircase.

A particular kind of fly which lives inside double glazing.

The coda to a phone conversion, consisting of about eight exchanges, by which people try gracefully to get off the line.

A mechanical device for cleaning combs invented during the industrial revolution at the same time as Arkwright's Spinning Jenny, but which didn't catch on in the same way.

The pocket down the back of an armchair used for storing two-shilling bits and pieces of Lego.

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.

The tiny snippets of beard which coat the inside of a washbasin after shaving in it.

One who loudly informs other diners in a restaurant what kind of man he is by calling for the chef by his christian name from the lobby.

HAXBY (n.)
Any garden implement found in a potting shed whose exact purpose is unclear.

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.

The dried yellow substance found between the prongs of forks in restaurants.

The correct name for the gold medallion worn by someone who is in the habit of wearing their shirt open to the waist.

HEVER (n.)
The panic caused by half-hearing Tannoy in an airport.

The marks left on the outside breast pocket of a storekeeper's overall where he has put away his pen and missed.

HICKLING (participial vb.)
The practice of infuriating theatregoers by not only arriving late to a centre-row seat, but also loudly apologising to and patting each member of the audience in turn.

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 you've left your hat behind.

The topmost tread of a staircase which disappears when you've climbing the stairs in the darkness.

Gossnargh (q.v.) three weeks later.

The awkward leaping manoeuvre a girl has to go through in bed in order to make him sleep on the wet patch.

An 'injured' footballer's limb back into the game which draws applause but doesn't fool anybody.

The wooden safety platform supported by scaffolding round a building under construction from which the builders (at almost no personal risk) can drop pieces of cement on passers-by.

HOFF (vb.)
To deny indignantly something which is palpably true.

The action of overshaking a pair of dice in a cup in the mistaken belief that this will affect the eventual outcome in your favour and not irritate everyone else.

The combination of little helpful grunts, nodding movements of the head, considerate smiles, upward frowns and serious pauses that a group of people join in making in trying to elicit the next pronouncement of somebody with a dreadful stutter.

HOVE (adj.)
Descriptive of the expression seen on the face of one person in the presence of another who clearly isn't going to stop talking for a very long time.

The pool of edible gravy which surrounds an inedible and disgusting lump of meat - eaten to give the impression that the person is 'just not very hungry, but mmm this is delicious'. Cf. Peaslake - a similar experience had by vegetarians.

HUBY (n.)
A half-erection large enough to be a publicly embarrassing bulge in the trousers, not large enough to be of any use to anybody.

To crouch upwards: as in the movement of a seated person's feet and legs made in order to allow a cleaner's hoover to pass beneath them.

HULL (adj.)
Descriptive of the smell of a weekend cottage.

HUMBER (vb.)
To move like the cheeks of a very fat person as their car goes over a cattle grid.

HUMBY (n.)
An erection which won't go down when a gentleman has to go for a pee in the middle of making love to someone.

HUNA (n.)
The result of coming to the wrong decision.

Medieval ceremonial brass horn with which the successful execution of an araglin (q.v.) is trumpeted from the castle battlements.

HUTLERBURN (n. archaic)
A burn sustained as a result of the behaviour of a clumsy hutler. (The precise duties of hutlers are now lost in the mists of history.)

The fibrous algae which grows in the dark, moist environment of trouser turn-ups.

Anything used to make a noise on a corrugated iron wall or clinker-built fence by dragging it along the surface while walking past it. 'Mr Bennett thoughtfully selected a stout ibstock and left the house.' - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, II.

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.

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.

JARROW (adj.)
An agricultural device which, when towed behind a tractor, enables the farmer to spread his dung evenly across the width of the road.

JAWCRAIG (n. medical)
A massive facial spasm which is brought on by being told a really astounding piece of news. A mysterious attack of jawcraig affected 40,000 sheep in Whales in 1952.

JURBY (n.)
A loose woollen garment reaching to the knees and with three or more armholes, knitted by the wearer's well- meaning but incompetent aunt.

The ancient Eastern art of being able to fold road-maps properly.

An extremely intricate knot originally used for belaying the topgallant foresheets of a gaff-rigged China clipper, and now more commonly observed when trying to get an old kite out of the cupboard under the stairs.

KEELE (adj.)
The horrible smell caused by washing ashtrays.

KELLING (participial vb.)
A person searching for something, who has reached the futile stage of re-looking i all the places they have looked once already, is said to be kelling.

KENT (adj.)
Politely determined not to help despite a violent urge to the contrary. Kent expressions are seen on the faces of people who are good at something watching someone else who can't do it at all.

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 and kentucky'.

KERRY (n.)
The small twist of skin which separates each sausage on a string.

The marks left on your bottom or thighs after sunbathing on a wickerwork chair.

The quality of not being able to pee while being watched.

The footling amount of money by which the price of a given article in a shop is less than a sensible number, in a vain hope that at least one idiot will think it cheap. For instance, the kibblesworth on a pair of shoes priced at 19.99 is 1p.

The light breeze which blows through your armpit hair when you are stretched out sunbathing.

A forty-year-old sixteen-stone man trying to commit suicide by jogging.

KIRBY (n.)
Small but repulsive piece of food prominently attached to a person's face or clothing. See also CHIPPING ONGAR.

One who kindly attempts to wipe an apparent kirby (q.v.) off another's face with a napkin, and then discovers it to be a wart or other permanent fixture, is said to have committed a 'kirby misperton'.

Man who owns all the latest sporting gadgetry and clothing (gold trolley, tee cosies, ventilated shoes, Gary Player- autographed tracksuit top, American navy cap, mirror sunglasses) but is still only on his second gold lesson.

The mysterious fluff placed in your pockets by dry-cleaning firms.

Hard stare given by a husband to his wife when he notices a sharp increase in the number of times he answers the phone to be told, 'Sorry, wrong number.'

The folder on hotel dressing-tables full of astoundingly dull information.

Motorists' name for the kind of pedestrian who stands beside a main road and waves on the traffic, as if it's their right of way.

A mere nothing, an unconsidered trifle, a negligible amount. Un touquet is often defined as the difference between the cost of a bottle of gin bought in an off-licence and one bought in a duty-free shop.

LIFF (n.)
A book, the contents of which are totally belied by its cover. For instance, any book the dust jacket of which bears the words. 'This book will change your life'.

To jar one's leg as the result of the disappearance of a stair which isn't there in the darkness.

Descriptive of the pleasant smell of an empty biscuit tin.

The small mat on the bar designed to be more absorbent than the bar, but not as absorbent as your elbows.

The member of any class who most inclines a teacher towards the view that capital punishment should be introduced in schools.

Descriptive of the waggling movement of a person's hands when shaking water from them or warming up for a piece of workshop theatre.

The long unaccomplished wail in the middle of a Scottish folk song where the pipes nip around the corner for a couple of drinks.

A droplet which persists in running out of your nose.

One of those middle-aged ladies with just a hint of a luxuriant handlebar moustache.

LOUTH (n.)
The sort of man who wears loud check jackets, has a personalised tankard behind the bar and always gets served before you do.

Seductive remark made hopefully in the back of a taxi.

A quiet little unregarded man in glasses who is building a new kind of atomic bomb in his garden shed.

Common solution to the problems of a humby (q.v.)

(a) The balls of wool which collect on nice new sweaters. (b) The correct name for 'navel fluff'.

(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.

The telltale little lump in the top of your swimming trunks which tells you are going to have to spend half an hour with a safety pin trying to pull the drawstring out again.

A wad of newspaper, folded tablenapkin or lump of cardboard put under a wobbly table or chair to make it stand up straight. It is perhaps not widely known that air-ace Sir Douglas Bader used to get about on an enormous pair of ludlows before he had his artificial legs fitted.

Feeling you get when the pubs aren't going to be open for another fortyfive minutes and the luffness is beginning to wear a bit thin.

Hearty feeling that comes from walking on the moors with gumboots and cold ears.

Measure of conversation. A lulworth defines the amount of the length, loudness and embarrassment of a statement you make when everyone else in the room unaccountably stops talking at the same time.

The piece of leather which hangs off the bottom of your shoe before you can be bothered to get it mended.

LUSBY (n.)
The fold of flesh pushing forward over the top of a bra which is too small for the lady inside it.

LUTON (n.)
The horseshoe-shaped rug which goes around a lavatory seat.

LYBSTER (n., vb.)
The artificial chuckle in the voice-over at the end of a supposedly funny television commercial.

The opposite of a mavis enderby (q.v.) An unrequited early love of your life who still causes terrible pangs though she inexplicably married a telephone engineer.

The inexpressible horror experienced on walking up in the morning and remembering that you are Andy Stewart.

MAENTWROG (n. Welsh)
Celtic word for a computer spelling mistake.

The height by which the top of a wave exceeds the height to which you have rolled up your trousers.

The small holes in a loaf of bread which give rise to the momentary suspicion that something may have made its home within.

A hideous piece of chipboard veneer furniture bought in a suburban high street furniture store and designed to hold exactly a year's supply of Sunday colour supplements.

A margate is a particular kind of commissionaire who sees you every day and is on cheerful Christian-name terms with you, then one day refuses to let you in because you've forgotten your identify card.

MARKET DEEPING (participial vb.)
Stealing one piece of fruit from a street fruit-and- vegetable stall.

The bottom drawer in the kitchen your mother keeps her paper bags in.

A person to whom, under dire injunctions of silence, you tell a secret which you wish to be fare more widely known.

Those items and particles which people who, after blowing their noses, are searching for when they look into their hankies.

(Of neckties.) Any colour which Nigel Rees rejects as unsuitable for his trousers or jacket.

The almost-completely-forgotten girlfriend from your distant past for whom your wife has a completely irrational jealousy and hatred.

MEATH (adj.)
Warm and very slightly clammy. Descriptive of the texture of your hands after the automatic drying machine has turned itself off, just damp enough to make it embarrassing if you have to shake hands with someone immediately afterwards.

One who sets off for the scene of an aircraft crash with a picnic hamper.

MEETH (n.)
Something which American doctors will shortly tell us we are all suffering from.

The name of the style of decoration used in cocktail lounges in mock Tudor hotels in Surrey.

The ghastly sound made by traditional folksingers.

A patent anti-wrinkle cream which policemen wear to keep themselves looking young.

The little bits of yellow fluff which get trapped in the hinge of the windscreen wipers after polishing the car with a new duster.

The melodious whistling, chanting and humming tone of the milwaukee 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.

The expression on a man's face when he has just zipped up his trousers without due care and attention.

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.

The kind of family that drives to the seaside and then sits in the car with all the windows closed, reading the Sunday Express and wearing sidcups (q.v.)

The bundle of hair which is left after a monk has been tonsured, which he keeps tired up with a rubber band and uses for chasing ants away.

The fourth wheel of a supermarket trolley which looks identical to the other tree but renders the trolley completely uncontrollable.

Imagine being on a vacation, and it's raining all the time, you are driving and the kids are making you a nervous wreck. Well you are definitely in Mo i Rana.

MUGEARY (n. medical)
The substance from which the unpleasant little yellow globules in the corners of a sleepy person's eyes are made.

A meadow selected, whilst driving past, as being ideal for a picnic which, from a sitting position, turns out to be full of stubble, dust and cowpats, and almost impossible to enjoy yourself in.

NAAS (n.)
The windmaking region of Albania where most of the wine that people take to bottle-parties comes from.

The 'n' with which cheap advertising copywriters replace the word 'and' (as in 'fish 'n' chips', 'mix 'n' match', 'assault 'n' battery'), in the mistaken belief that this is in some way chummy or endearing.

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.

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.

NAPLES (pl.n.)
The tiny depression in a piece of Ryvita.

The stout metal instrument used for clipping labels on to exhibits at flower shows.

A plastic sachet containing shampoo, polyfilla, etc., which is impossible to open except by biting off the corners.

NAZEING (participial vb.)
The rather unconvincing noises of pretended interest which an adult has to make when brought a small dull object for admiration by a child.

Any ensemble of especially unflattering and particular garments worn by a woman which tell you that she is right at the forefront of fashion.

The feeling experienced when driving off for the first time on a brand new motorbike.

A pair of P.J.Proby's trousers.

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...

The kind of person who has to leave before a party can relax and enjoy itself.

In a choice between two or more possible puddings, the one nobody plumps for.

Sort of person who takes the lift to travel one floor.

OCKLE (n.)
An electrical switch which appears to be off in both positions.

A point made for the seventh time to somebody who insists that they know exactly what you mean but clearly hasn't got the faintest idea.

OSHKOSH (n., vb.)
The noise made by someone who has just been grossly flattered and is trying to make light of it.

A frilly spare-toilet-roll-cosy.

Small brass wind instrument used for summoning Vikings to lunch when they're off on their longships, playing.

OBWESTRY (abs.n.)
Bloody-minded determination on part of a storyteller to continue a story which both the teller and the listeners know has become desperately tedious.

Someone you don't want to invite to a party but whom you know you have to as a matter of duty.

OUNDLE (vb.)
To walk along leaning sideways, with one arm hanging limp and dragging one leg behind the other. Most commonly used by actors in amateur production of Richard III, or by people carrying a heavy suitcase in one hand.

OZARK (n.)
One who offers to help just after all the work has been done.

PABBY (n.,vb.)
(Fencing term.) The play, or manoeuvre, where one swordsman leaps on to the table and pulls the battleaxe off the wall.

The final state of mind of retired colonel before they come to take him away.

Something drawn or modelled by a small child which you are supposed to know wait it is.

PAPPLE (vb.)
To do what babies do to soup with their spoons.

Technical term for the third take of an orgasm scene during the making of a pornographic film.

PEEBLES (pl.n.)
Small, carefully rolled pellets of skegness (q.v.)

A South American ball game. The balls are whacked against a brick wall with a stout wooden bat until the prisoner confesses.

Welsh word which literally translates as 'leaking-biro-by-the-glass-hole-of-the-clerk-of-the-bank-has-been-taken-to-another-place-leaving-only-the-special-inkwell-and-three- inches-of-tin-chain'.

The fear of peeling too few potatoes.

(English public-school slang). A prefect whose duty it is to surprise new boys at the urinal and humiliate them in a manner of his choosing.

One of those spray things used to wet ironing with.

PEVENSEY (n. archaic)
The right to collect shingle from the king's foreshore.

A trouser stain caused by a wimbledon (q.v.). Not to be confused with a botley (q.v.)

Small odd-shaped piece of plastic or curious metal component found in the bottom of kitchen rummage drawer when spring-cleaning or looking for Sellotape.

One of those rubber nodules found on the underneath side of a lavatory seat.

The background gurgling noise heard in Wimby Bars caused by people trying to get the last bubbles out of their milkshakes by slurping loudly through their straws.

Part of traditional mating rite. During the first hot day of spring, all the men in the tube start giving up their seats to ladies and straphanging. The purpose of pitsligo is for them to demonstrate their manhood by displaying the wet patches under their arms.

PLEELEY (adj.)
Descriptive of a drunk person's attempt to be endearing.

To relate an amusing story to someone without remembering that it was they who told it to you in the first place.

The (pointless) knob on top of a war memorial.

A hole drilled in chipboard lavatory walls by homosexuals for any one of a number of purposes.

POGES (pl.n.)
The lumps of dry powder that remain after cooking a packet soup.

Gifted with ability to manipulate taps using only the feet.

One of those tiny ribbed-plastic and aluminium foil tubs of milk served on trains enabling you to carry one safely back to you compartment where your legs in comfort trying to get the bloody things open.

A polperro is the ball, or muff, of soggy hair found clinging to bath overflow-holes.

POONA (n.)
Satisfied grunting noise made when sitting back after a good meal.

Dried remains of a week-old casserole, eaten when extremely drunk at two a.m.

The curious-shaped flat wads of dough left on a kitchen table after someone has been cutting scones out of it.

QUABBS (pl.n.)
The substances which emerge when you squeeze a blackhead.

QUALL (vb.)
To speak with the voice of one who requires another to do something for them.

A rabidly left-wing politician who can afford to be that way because he married a millionairess.

Something that happens when people make it up after an agglethorpe (q.v.)

A stubborn spot on a window which you spend twenty minutes trying to clean off before discovering it's on the other side of the glass.

A person that no one has ever heard of who unaccountably manages to make a living writing prefaces.

The hatefullness of words like 'relionus' and 'easiephit'.

All institutional buildings must, by law, contain at least twenty ramsgates. These are doors which open the opposite way to the one you expect.

Fashion of trying ties so that the long thin end underneath dangles below the short fat upper end.

The sort of remark only ever made during Any Questions.

RIPON (vb.)
(Of literary critics.) To include all the best jokes from the book in the review to make it look as if the critic thought of them.

One who is able to gain occupation of the armrest on both sides of their cinema or aircraft seat.

The man behind you in church who sings with terrific gusto almost tree quarters of a tone off the note.

A peeble (q.v.) which is larger that a belper (q.v.)

A violent green shrub which is ground up, mixed with twigs and gelatine and served with clonmult (q.v.) and buldoo (q.v.) in a container referred to for no known reason as a 'relish tray'.

To spray the person you are talking to with half-chewed breadcrumbs or small pieces of whitebait.

To sew municipal crests on to a windcheater in the belief that this will make the wearer appear cosmopolitan.

A small dog which resembles a throwrug and appears to be dead.

One of those peculiar beard
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