DO YOU KNOW THE MEANING OF LIFF?

15 August 2013

By Rosanna Boscawen

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the-meaning-of-liff-978075222759701_1A liff, in case you don’t know, is a place name that previously had no definition, but which ought to have one. THE MEANING OF LIFF is a dictionary of these, first compiled in 1983 by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. It is just reissued in hardback this year for its 30th anniversary, which gives these liffs meaning.

John Lloyd and Jon Canter have published a sequel, AFTERLIFF, so we in team Tor have been eagerly rifling through both books to see if the places we hold nearest and dearest have merited an entry in the catalogue. No such luck for the village I grew up in, but the local town, Framlingham, has a lengthy entry:

'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 routine at 5.31 p.m. on a Friday evening and do not get turned off till 9.20 a.m. on Monday morning.'

Sounds very useful.

© ell brown/flickr.com

Team Tor’s Maddy Beresford was intrigued to learn that Swanage, where she once went on holiday, is also a noun meaning ‘the diversionary tactics used when trying to cover up a glossop (q.v.).' *

Dan, our Digital Producer, was less enthused to learn that his home town of Grimsby is in fact ‘a lump of something gristly and foul-tasting concealed in a mouthful of stew or pie.’

My personal favourite (though I may well have changed my mind by the time you read this post) is ‘Woking ptcpl. vb. Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for.’

I do that at least once a day. 

Does your town have a liff? Do you wish it did? Tell us below what it would be and we’ll send a copy of THE MEANING OF LIFF and AFTERLIFF to our two favourite suggestions. All liffs to be posted in the comments section below by midday on Monday 19th August 2013. Original entries only. Read our full terms and conditions here

Thanks to everyone who suggested liffs! The competition has now closed and winners have been notified by email, but if you have any further meanings of liff you'd like to share we'd be delighted to read them in the comments below. 

 *glossop is ‘a rogue blob of food. Glossops… invariably fall off your spoon and onto the surface of your host’s highly polished antique rosewood dining table.’

Blast from the past: take a look at the covers-gone-by of science fiction greats Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick