The Meaning of Liff

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Meaning_of_Liff_front_cover.jpg
Front cover of the US hardcover edition of The Meaning of Liff, 1984.
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Deeper_Meaning_of_Liff_front_cover.jpg
Front cover of the US hardcover edition of The Deeper Meaning of Liff, 1990.

The Meaning of Liff (UK Edition: ISBN 0330281216, US Edition: ISBN 0517553473) is a humorous dictionary written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, published in Britain in 1983 (and received its first publication in the USA in 1984). A revised and expanded edition of the original book, with about twice as many definitions, was more broadly published in 1990 as The Deeper Meaning of Liff (UK Edition: ISBN 0330316060, US Edition: ISBN 0517585979). Some of the new words in Deeper had previous appeared in a Liff piece by Adams, Lloyd and Stephen Fry in The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book (1986). The main differences between the two editions (for either version of the book) are simply those of American English vs. British English spellings.

It is a "dictionary of things that there aren't any words for yet": all the words listed are place names, and describe common feelings and objects for which there is no current English word. For example:

Shoeburyness (abs.n.)
The vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else's bottom

A partial list of other examples is also available.

According to Adams' account in The Salmon of Doubt, the Meaning of Liff grew out of an old school game, and started when he and Lloyd were on holiday together. The book is named after the town of Liff in Scotland.

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