Boris Johnson and the Meaning of Liff

Boris Johnson has a wonderful turn of phrase:

for the most part this answer has so far drawn a look of anxious blankness, the look you see when people are sure that they ought to have read some classic work, and are in two minds whether to bluff it out or admit ignorance. 

That is such an acute observation of the human condition.  It reminds me of a great book from more than 20 years ago, the Meaning of Liff, by John Lloyd and the sadly missed Douglas Adams, about "many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist".  Here is a sample:

The sort of man who becomes a returning officer.

The moment at which two people approaching from opposite ends of a long passageway, recognise each other and immediately pretend they haven’t. This is to avoid the ghastly embarrassment of having to continue recognising each other the whole length of the corridor.

Technical term for one of the lame excuses written in very small print on the side of packets of food or washing powder to explain why there’s hardly anything inside. Examples include ‘Contents may have settled in transit’ and ‘To keep each biscuit fresh they have been individually wrapped in silver paper and cellophane and separated with corrugated lining, a cardboard flap, and heavy industrial tyres’.

IPING (participial vb.)
The increasingly anxious shifting from leg to leg you go through when you are desperate to go to the lavatory and the person you are talking to keeps on remembering a few final things he want to mention.

There are more examples here.

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