Notable phrases from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Notable phrases from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" has become so popular among sci-fi and computer enthusiasts that certain phrases from it are widely recognised and often used in reference to, but outside the context of, the source material.


In "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", forty-two is the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything". This joke is often invoked in discussions about the "meaning of life". See Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything and 42. Subsequently, 42 has become a favourite number of sorts amongst sci-fi fans and in college/internet culture. It is commonly used whenever an arbitrary number is needed.

In 2006,Fact|date=August 2008 Google defined the constant "answer to life the universe and everything" as the value 42 in their built-in calculator. []

There is the persistent tale that forty-two is actually Adams' tribute to the indefatigable paperback book, and is really the average number of lines on an average page of an average paperback book. [cite web|url= |title=What on earth is 42?|accessmonthday=June 09 | accessyear=2008|last=Vernon|first=Mark|date=7 March 2008]

Many chatterbots will respond to being asked what the meaning of life is with 42.

Know where one's towel is

Somebody who can stay in control of virtually any situation is somebody who is said to know where his or her towel is. Douglas Adams got the idea for this phrase when he went on holiday and found that his beach towel kept disappearing.

Life, the Universe and Everything

From the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, which is shown to be forty-two. It is also the title of the third book in the series. It is a common name for the off-topic section of an Internet forum (especially LUE on GameFAQs), and the phrase is invoked in similar ways to mean "anything at all".

Not entirely unlike

In "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", Arthur Dent tries to get a Nutrimatic dispenser to produce a cup of tea. Instead, it invariably produces a concoction (which most people found unpleasant) that is "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea". One of the primary goals of the player, as Arthur Dent, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy computer game, is to thwart the machine and find some decent tea, a mission that the player is constantly reminded of by the inventory item "no tea". According to the Jargon File, the briefer "not entirely unlike" has entered hacker jargon. []

Share and Enjoy

"Share and Enjoy" is the slogan of the complaints division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

In the radio version, this phrase had its own song (sung in Fit the Ninth), which was sung by a choir of robots during "special occasions". However, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation tends to produce inherently faulty goods, which makes the slogan ironic since few people would share or enjoy a product that does not function properly. Among the design flaws is the choir of robots that sings the song: they sing a flattened fifth out of tune with the accompaniment.

This phrase is often invoked in releasing freeware, shareware, or open source software, though without its ironic connotations.

The Guide relates that the words "Share and Enjoy" were displayed in illuminated letters three miles high near the Sirius Cybernetics Complaints Department, until their weight caused them to collapse through the underground offices of many young executives. The upper half of the sign that now protrudes translates in the local tongue as "Go stick your head in a pig", and is only lit up for special celebrations.

The Fit the Twentieth features a personal computer OS booting sound (à la The Microsoft Sound) set to the tune of "Share and Enjoy". Furthermore, the Fit the Twenty-First, the last episode in the adaption of "So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish" to radio, features a polyphonic ringtone version of the tune.

The "Share and Enjoy" tune is also used in the TV series as the backing for a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robot commercial (slogan: "Your plastic pal who's fun to be with").

So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish

In the book of the same title, "So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish" is the last message from dolphins to humanity. Its popularity was such that it was the title of the opening song for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie.

Also the phrase was spoofed for the NOFX Album So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes.

Don't Panic

Printed in large, friendly letters on the outside cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Mostly Harmless

The only entry about Earth in the "Guide" used to be "Harmless", but Ford Prefect managed to change it a little before getting stuck on Earth. "Mostly Harmless" provoked a very upset reaction from Arthur when heard. (Those two words are not what Ford submitted as a result of his research — merely all that was left after his editors were done with it.) Its popularity is such that it has become the definition of Earth in many standard works of sci-fi reference, like "The Star Trek Encyclopedia". Additionally, "Harmless" and "Mostly Harmless" both feature as ranks in the seminal computer game "Elite".

It is also the title of the fifth book, "Mostly Harmless".

In the MMORPG RuneScape "Mos Le'Harmless" is a island in the eastern sea. It is, however, all but harmless, containing a pirate town and a jungle filled with monsters.


External links

* [ The Jargon File] , which lists some of the phrases here.

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