(Last update: 2004-04-20)
In May 2001, I began including a short word definition in my e-mail signature. Every few days, I update my signature to include a new word. Since I started doing this, many people have asked where the definitions come from, and could they please have a list of all of the word's that have appeared in my signature so far. Hence this web page.
All of these definitions come from The Meaning of Liff and The Deeper Meaning of Liff, both by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. All of the words are actually place names, taken mostly from locations in the UK, but also from the rest of the planet. These place names are matched with meanings that don't yet have words of their own, usually with very humorous results.
below includes all of the words that have appeared in my signature at
the time of writing. I do intend to update this list from time to time,
but if you like this sample, you should probably buy the original books.
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.
Abruzzo (n.): The worn patch of ground
under a swing.
Aigburth (n.): Any piece of readily
identifiable anatomy found amongst cooked meat.
Albacete (n.): A single surprisingly long hair growing in the middle of nowhere.
Alcoy (adj.): Wanting to be bullied into having another drink.
(n.): A British Rail sandwich which has been kept soft by being
regularly washed and resealed in clingfilm.
Anantnag (vb.): (Eskimo term) To bang your thumbs between the oars when rowing.
Balemartine (n.): The look which says, 'Stop talking to that woman at once.'
Bathel (vb.): To pretend to have read the book under discussion when in fact you've only seen the TV series.
Baughurst (n.): That kind of large fierce ugly woman who owns a small fierce ugly dog.
An indeterminate pustule which could be either a spot or a bite.
Bishop's Caundle (n.): An opening
gambit before a game of chess where the missing pieces are replaced by
small ornaments from the mantelpiece.
Boinka (n.): The noise through the
wall which tells you that the people next door enjoy a better sex life
than you do.
Brindle (vb.): To remember suddenly where it is you're meant to be going after you've already been driving for ten minutes.
Clenchwarton (n.): (Archaic) One who assists an exorcist by squeezing whichever part of the possessed the exorcist deems useful.
Climpy (adj.): Allowing yourself to be persuaded to do something and pretending to be reluctant.
(n.): The precise instant at which scrambled eggs are ready.
Clunes (pl. n.): People who just won't go.
Cong (n.): Strange-shaped metal utensil found at the back of the saucepan cupboard. Many authorities believe that congs provide conclusive proof of the exstence of a now extinct form of yellow vegetable which the Victorians used to boil mercilessly.
Astounded at what you've just managed to get away with.
Cotterstock (n.): A piece of wood used
to stir paint and thereafter stored uselessly in the shed in perpetuity.
(n.): A letter to the editor made meaningless because it refers to a
previous letter you didn't read. (See A.H. Hedgehope, July 3rd.)
(Of the hands and feet.) Prunelike after an overlong bath.
Dipple (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.
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.
Someone else's throaty cough which obscures the crucial part of the
rather amusing remark you've just made.
(n.): The last page of a document that you always leave face down in
photocopier and have to go and retrieve later.
(n.): The realization that the train you have patiently watched pulling
out of the station was the one you were meant to be on.
A small child hired to bounce at dawn on the occupants of the spare
bedroom in order to save on tea and alarm clocks.
vb.): Wondering what to do next when you've just stormed out of
Ely (n.): The first, tiniest inkling that something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.
Farnham (n.): The
feeling you get at about four o'clock in the afternoon when you haven't
got enough done.
Framlingham (n.): A kind of burglar
alarm in common usage. It is cunningly designed so that it can ring at
full volume in the street without apparently disturbing anyone. Other
types of framlinghams 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 till 9.20 a.m. on
form of particularly long sparse sideburns which are part of the
mandatory turnout of British Rail guards.
Gammersgill (n.): Embarrassed stammer you emit when a voice answers the phone and you realise that you haven't the faintest recollection of who it is you've just rung.
Garrow (n.): Narrow wiggly furrow left
after pulling a hair off a painted surface.
The ability to say 'No, there's absolutely nothing the matter, what
could possibly be the matter? And anyway I don't want to discuss it,'
without moving your lips.
The action of putting your finger in your cheek and flicking it out
with a 'pock' noise.
Gonnabarn (n.): An afternoon wasted on watching an old movie on TV.
Goole (n.): The puddle on the bar into which the barman puts your change.
Greeley (n.): Someone who continually annoys you by continually apologizing for annoying you.
Gress (vb.): (Rare) To stick to the point during a family argument.
Gribun (n.): The person in a crisis who can always be relied on to make a good anecdote out of it.
Gruids (n.): The only bits of an animal
left after even the people who make sausage rolls have been at it.
Harlosh (vb.): To redistribute the hot water in a bath.
Hepple (vb.): To sculpt the contents of a sugar bowl.
Hever (n.): The panic caused by half-hearing the Tannoy in an airport.
High Limerigg (n.): The topmost tread of a staircase which disappears when you're climbing the stairs in darkness.
Hobarris (n.): (Medical) A sperm which carries a high risk of becoming a bank manager.
(Of a TV newsreader) To continue to stare impassively into the camera
when it should have already switched to the sports report.
Descriptive of the expression on the face of a person in the presence
of another who clearly isn't going to stop talking for a very long time.
Huna (n.): The result of coming to the wrong decision.
Jofane (adj.): In breach of the laws of joke telling, e.g. giving away the punchline in advance.
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.
The horrible smell caused by washing ashtrays.
A person who can be relied upon to be doing worse than you.
Lulworth (n.): 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 moment.
Mimbridge (n.): That which two very boring people have in common which enables you to get away from them.
Motspur (n.): The fourth wheel of a
supermarket trolley which looks identical to the other three but
the trolley completely uncontrollable.
Nad (n.): Measure
defined as the distance between a driver's out-stretched fingertips and
the ticket machine in an automatic car-park. 1 nad = 18.4 cm.
The secret pocket which eats your train ticket.
Naugatuck (n.): A plastic sachet containing shampoo, polyfilla, etc., which it is impossible to open except by biting off the corners.
Nindigully (n.): One who constantly needs to be re-persuaded of something they've already agreed to.
Noak Hoak (n.): A driver who indicated left and turns right.
Nubbock (n.): The kind of person who has to leave before a party can relax and enjoy itself.
Nupend (n.): The amount of small
change found in the lining of an old jacket which just saves your bacon.
Ozark (n.): One who offers to help after all the work has been done.
Pelutho (n.): A South
American ball game. The balls are whacked against a brick wall with a
stout wooden bat until the prisoner confesses.
Someone you don't want to be friends with who rings you up at
eight-monthly intervals and suggests you get together soon.
The lumps of dry powder that remain after cooking a packet of soup.
Rhymney (n.): That part of a song
lyric which you suddenly discover you've been mishearing for years.
The particularly impressive throw of a frisbee which causes it to be
Rudge (n.): An unjust criticism of your ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.
Satterthwaite (vb.): To spray the
you are talking to with half-chewed breadcrumbs or small pieces of
Scosthrop (vb.): To make vague
or cutting movements with the hands when wandering about looking for a
tin opener, scissors, etc., in the hope that this will help in some way.
Sheepy Magna (n.): One who emerges unexpectedly from the wrong bedroom in the morning.
Shimpling (ptcpl. vb.): Lying about the state of your life in order to cheer up your parents.
Shirmers (pl. n.): Tall young men who
stand around smiling at weddings as if to suggest that they know the
bride rather well.
Sidcup (n.): A hat made from tying
knots in the corners of a handkerchief.
(n.): Something that was sticky, and is now furry, found on the carpet
under the sofa on the morning after a party.
Sudden outbreak of cones on a motorway.
Slubbery (n.): The gooey drips of wax that dribble down the sides of a candle.
The cigarette end someone discovers in the mouthful of lager they have
just swigged from a can at the end of a party.
Soller (vb.): To break something in
two while testing if you glued it together properly.
Spreakley (adj.): Irritatingly cheerful in the morning.
Spurger (n.): One who in answer to the question 'How are you?' actually tells you.
Stibbard (n.): The invisible brake
pedal on the passenger's side of the car.
(n.): The tapping movements of an index finger on glass made by a
futilely attempting to communicate with either a tropical fish or a
Post Office clerk.
(n.): The corner of a toenail from which satisfying little black spots
may be sprung.
(n.): The voice used by presenters on children's television programmes.
Tooting Bec (n.):
A car behind which one draws up at the traffic lights and hoots at when
the lights go green before realising that the car is parked and there
is no one inside.
Trunch (n.): Instinctive resentment of people younger than you.
Tumby (n.): The involuntary abdominal gurgling which fills the silence following someone else's intimate personal revelation.
A business card in your wallet belonging to someone whom you have no
recollection of meeting.
Wigan (n.): If, when talking to someone you know only has one leg, you're trying to treat them perfectly casually and normally, but find to your horror that your conversation is liberally studded with references to (a) Long John Silver, (b) Hopalong Cassidy, (c) the Hokey Cokey, (d) 'putting your foot in it', (e) 'the last leg of the UEFA competition', you are said to have committed a wigan.
Of a person whose heart is in the wrong place (i.e. between their legs).
Worksop (n.): A person who never actually gets round to doing anything because he spends all his time writing out lists headed 'Things To Do (Urgent)'.