30 Things In Life There Should Be Words For

Ever wondered what you'd call an adolescent male's first attempt at sideburns? Or the tilt of an imaginary pint glass to see if your mate wants a drink? The Yorkshire Meaning of Liff will reveal all...
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Inspired by Douglas Adams’ and John Lloyd’s cult-classic The Meaning of Liff, first published thirty years ago, The Yorkshire Meaning of Liff recycles the lesser known place names of God’s own county, and twins them with all things in life there should be words for (aka ‘liffs’)…

John Lloyd (QI, Spitting Image, Black Adder, Have I got News for You, Hitchhikers Guide…) who introduces the book, said: “After 40 years in radio and television, I think I’m right in saying I have never produced a show, directed a movie or got involved in a book based on a script sent to me out of the blue by someone I’ve never met. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s never happened yet. Until now, that is.

“Joe first wrote to me earlier this year, after hearing an appeal on Radio 4 for contributions to a programme called The Meaning of Liff At 30. Designed to mark three decades in print of a book I wrote with Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in 1983, listeners were invited to submit new ‘liffs’ – definitions of ‘things there should be words for’ brought to life by attaching them to a place name. Some 400 people responded to the BBC’s call and the standard of entries was impressively high, but one person in particular stood out. He had not, like most contributors, come up with one or two ideas, he had written an entire book.”

Arksey (n.) The tilt of an imaginary pint glass to ask if someone on the other side of a noisy pub wants a drink.

Baliff Bridge (n.)The point halfway through an amusing anecdote where you hand over to a better storyteller who was also involved.

Blubberhouses (pl.n.) Holding areas used for guests on The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Clayton (n.)A small trowel-like implement used by cabin crew to apply foundation.

Copt Hewick (n.)An amusing or inappropriate word produced by predictive text.

Croome (v.)To lock eyes with someone inside a parked car in the process of checking out one’s appearance in their window.

Drewton (n.)The child in the school photograph with its eyes closed.

Ellerker (n.) A supermarket trip spent repeatedly bumping into the same person you hardly know, having used up all available pleasantries in the fruit and veg aisle.

Esholt (n.) A stock answer to a tediously predictable question about one’s occupation.

Exelby (n) The world-changing idea that strikes in the middle of the night but doesn’t seem quite so good in the morning

Fylingdales (pl.n.) An adolescent male’s first attempt at sideburns.

Gawber (v.) To gaze intently at the ceiling, at the floor, at your phone – anywhere but the direction of the attractive stranger opposite, when under the baleful eye of your other half

Glaisdale (v.) To peruse a menu for several minutes without reading a single word


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Gomersal (n.) A botched attempt to say goodbye to someone in the street before awkwardly heading off in the same direction

Hackenthorpe (n.) The clutch of smokers huddling outside a public building in winter

Haigh (v.) To drunkenly shush an inanimate object when blundering home after a late night

Houlsyke (n.) The high-pitched screaming noise emitted by fairground ghost train.

Hutton Rudby (n.) A man with an improbably large penis who spends an unnecessary amount of time strutting around the changing room pretending to dry himself

Letwell (v.) To stoically continue looking interested during an exchange of views, whilst battling to hold onto a relevant thought to be imparted when the conversation finally allows

Little Kelk (n.) The child most likely to make a supply teacher’s day a living hell

Norristhorpe (n.) The first person in a motorway traffic jam to get out their car and walk about sighing.

Nunkeeling (ptcpl.v.) Bending to determine the eye-line between one’s body parts and the windowsill, to see what might have been on view to the neighbours after getting changed with the curtains open

Pinchinthorpe (n.) Someone who returns for another free sample of whatever is being given away at the supermarket

Ruswarp (v.) To deliberately write a word unclearly when you don’t know how to spell it

Ryther cum Ossendyke (n.) The cloud of awkwardness that descends on a family living room during an unexpected TV sex scene

Skirpenbeck (v.) To enter a deserted gift shop, say hello to the hopeful owner, quickly realise there is nothing of interest for sale, and then immediately leave

Studley Roger (n.) A partner’s panic-inducing ex-boyfriend who seems to possess every single quality a girl could wish for in a man

Thirtleby (n.) A mature lady suddenly rummaging through her handbag, after queuing placidly at the supermarket checkout for the previous ten minutes

Wharfe (n.) Loud conversation between successful business men who want you to know you are overhearing successful business men

Willitoft (n.) The classic schoolboy graffiti cock-and-balls image (see also burstwick).