What’s the meaning of Michigan?

The late, brilliant Douglas Adams co-authored a book called The Meaning of Liff. From Wikipedia:

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. Examples are Shoeburyness (“The vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else’s bottom”) and Abinger (“One who washes up everything except the frying pan, the cheese grater and the saucepan which the chocolate sauce has been made in”).

I acquired this book many years ago because I loved Douglas Adams, but never really got it. After finding a (typo-ridden) copy online, I’ve a newfound respect for it. Part of the genius, of course, is that the “made-up” words are all place names.

Here are my favorites entries from just the letter W:

WEST WITTERING (participial vb.)
The uncontrollable twitching which breaks out when you’re trying to get away from the most boring person at a party.

A lost object which turns up immediately you’ve gone and bought a replacement for it.

A person who never actually gets round to doing anything because he spends all his time writing out lists headed ‘Things to Do (Urgent)’.

The feeling after having tried to dry oneself with a damp towel.

WYOMING (participial vb.)
Moving in hurried desperation from one cubicle to another in a public lavatory trying to find one which has a lock on the door, a seat on the bowl and no brown streaks on the seat.

You get the picture. It’s a great concept. Here are a few more I’ve recently come up with myself:

LANSING (participial vb.)
Saying the wrong lyrics while singing along to the radio, especially in the presence of someone else.

EAST LANSING (participial vb.)
A form of lansing in which one errs by singing the bridge or chorus a verse too soon.

REDDING (participial vb.)
Gingerly raising a hot liquid to your lips in anticipation or fear of it burning your tongue.

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3 Responses to What’s the meaning of Michigan?

  1. I love “lansing”. Very nice.

  2. walther says:

    awesome. i am a particularly bad offender regarding both forms of Lansing, and now i have names for my transgressions.

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