ONLINE MUSEUM OF lilos AND HISTORY OF lilos
All the lilos . . . The common word is not inflatable with a hyphen
THe word is in use in Dutch schools as reported in Denmark. There's even a lilo in the Tate. Photographers picture library word lists include lilo, lilo schulpture and lilos in common with look-a-likes. Whilst inflatable comes to mind for some, LILO on water is the "Low Impact Life Onboard" project for boaters who want a future for the waterways and the planet, many boaters want to take lilos on-board as they could save the planet with solar energy and surfers aren't sure if they love them. Others who are members of the Low Impact Living Organisation call themselves LILO people and tell the LILO story whilst in Austria it's the Linz Lokalbahn. For other conservationists Lilo is a green sea turtle who has adventures whilst others are Lost In Lima Ohio. Apart from some commonly referred to items which are now collectable and the subject of this site, the word has come into generic use in the English language and now Wiktionaried for inflatable things that people love to take on holidays and photographers like to photograph women on of which perhaps this site is most extensive, the item itself conjuring up the image of paradise for stock photos, top of the list of 10 things to take on holiday. Dave in Tenerife like blowing them up. Lilos are at the forefront of medical science. Apparently lilos are inflatable things that kids sit on getting scared by Great White Sharks. The LILO is identified as a particularly English noun used school children at junior schools in common with wonderful words like "sleeping policeman", "starkers", "bonkers", "shirty", "clotted cream", "lollipop lady", and "christianity" which apparently all needed explanation to people beyond British shores. Lilos were recently immortalised across the oceans by a Muggle called "Dodgy Dirk" in a Harry Potter story holding forth about how his inflatable lilo was punctured by a "dirty great flying lizard" otherwise known as the Common Welsh Green Dragon.
Limericks in the form of Deflationary Folksongs and songs about lilos in Montego Bay have been written about lilos of the sort on which some illegal immigrants tried to paddle across the English Channel, lying low thinking they were beneath the radar . . .
A passing shark punctured his lilo, and sent him to eternity. . . .
Lilos entered popular literature with Agatha Christie's book "Evil under the Sun" referring to a beach scene in the 1930s:
For the British Army in the Second World War, LILO was a bunker busting weapon to make the enemy uncomfortable in 1943, rather than to lull soldiers into comfortable sleep even though the Germans thought they were standard Army issue and the American army referred to lilos as something else entirely. During the war, however, colleagues of a sports goods distributor working for the emergency services used them in the 1940s. In fact it was the Navy in the Second Word War who genericised the word "lilo" making giant bombardons called lilos inspired by the hyphenated brand name product made from rubberized canvas. Meanwhile the inflatable Lylo inspires children to literacy today. Possibly Lylo is the Californian spelling of lilo, although to people in Germany, Lylo presents a shiny clothes fetish, clearly inspired by the modern generation of shiny Chinese inflatable toys and Pattaya in Thailand is the place to holiday with people who wear shiny garments. There seems to be some controversy over the origins of the inflatable lilo. Whilst P B Cow Limited made and marketed hyphenated trademark inflatable lilos in London from the late 1930s, it appears that the Airfix company founded by Nicholas Kove claimed the lilo as his first success before the war making cheap rubber toys fulled with air and hailed as a British Icon whilst others say that The Golden Hinde was the first Airfix toy in 1959 rather than 1939. Others also give tribute to Kove as the inventor of the "Li-Lo air filled mattress". Some merely mention rubber dolls. However, in view of mention of lilos on 1930s beaches by Chistie and, lower on this page, of a sad event in South Africa involving a lilo in 1938, this claim to lilo fame may be as apocryphal as those inflated stories, ascribed to the legendary mythical Danish doctor and inflatable experimenter, Olen Hannussen, which abounded the net in 2005 and now well and truly popped.
Putting these controversies aside, Lilo is a Nordic christian name used mainly in Germany and Sweden being the short form of LiselLotte, itself a contraction of Liese and Charlotte whilst in Hawaii Lilo is a name meaning "generous". One Lilo is a collector of postcards and ephemera and another Lilo was beheaded in 1938. There's Lilo Schütrumpf's puppet shows, used as the name of a Scandinavian plastic rug, a scrapbook writer, Lilo Baur worked on the Bridget Jones film "The Edge of Reason", Lilo Grahn was an actress starring in "Husaren in Berlin", Lilo Lil was a fictional Irish girlfriend in a TV series, Lilo is the name of a village in Ireland, a Lilo runs a travel website, Liloo is an American with lots of friends, a British Interior Design company called Lilo Limited, the common name of a garden plant Syringa vulgaris, a maker of Leather goods under a Trade Mark in Spain, the christian name of a Swiss trademark lawyer, the subject of a song by a group called E-Buskers, a Palestinian real name, a Greek real name, the short form of lease-in/lease-out used in American accounting, a term used by photo-libraries for floating objects in a generic way, astrophysical units of measurement in connexion with Kepler's 3rd Law for object floating around the universe as well as by river riding sportsmen, a real place at Astypalaia in Greece, an army base in Georgia where there was a radiation incident in 1997, the trademark of Linus Torvalds Librenix, the trademark of Werner Almesbergerthe trademark of Speck Electronics and Melanie Lilow is an author. You'll find lilos at log cabin holidays in Scotland and in happy remembrances of people who enjoyed them. Whilst some people are crackers about lilos and collect them as being cracking fun, others call themselves Cracker Lilo and Loony Lilos feature in Mad Mini Olympics whilst others call them lilows, especially in Tenerife where a lilow was preferred to inflatable dartboards. In general, however, lilows are liked by the sort of people who are innately carefull or who enjoy blowing things up (lilows and trees) but more often than not simply enjoy sun islands. But Glohworms were "punky lilows" in their youth.
Pluralised liloes inspire poetry on rights of passage and are clearly a military weapon, shooting down rapids, which causes liloes to be prohibited in civilised places and sending tourists to the beaches on Greek Islands. Some call them lieloes. At other times, liloes can be a typo for lilies or an errant OCR in ancient woodland whilst being most popular on bushwalks.
Unhyphenated lilos are noted by the Birmingham and Solihul Mental Health NHS Trust as bedecking crazy tourists with cameras, Bermuda shorts, colourful shirts and flapping wings, turn campers crazy. Computerated children download cyber-lilos for their aquahouses. If not outright madness, at best lilos inspire randomness when runners complain that air is for lilos and party balloons rather than shoes and whilst some sip dry Martinis others do weird things like sew on lilos whilst Rubbereva does even weirder things with and without "plastic inflatable lilos" as she calls them. Meanwhile, as you can guess from the corruption of the name a Leeloo is a silicone product upon a metal frame inspired by the inflatable rubber equivalent and the name derived from the character played by Milla Jovovich in the Fifth Element. Sounds insultingly close to Lilo, especially with a French accent . . .
Norfolk District Council sensibly teaches children good lilo common sense urging children not to play on lilos on the sea unless the lilo is secured by a rope. Apparently Susan was very scared when going off to sea with her friend Lucy Lilo and Croydon caving club suggests the Great North Road littered by plastic lilos as a destination requiring ropes for those allergic to the sun. For those allergic to heat, Alaska provides the sight of sea otters floating around on their backs like fat, bewhiskered holidaymakers on lilos. At Lepe next the Sea, at the Big Wide Talk, lilos are a feature of essential planning.
Itchy Cornwall recommends that as you only have one spine you should look after it by taking a cheap lilo and for music lovers there are big Lilo events. Kids love them at the Wharfe. Lilos give people an undue sense of power over water just as much now as in the 1930s in South Africa, taking people out to sea and attracting bargain hunters to Paignton and the Lido, giving nightmares to coastguards for whom lilos are the butt of surf life-savers jokes, councils to make recommendations about and others make the subject of guidelines with prohibitions from selling to children or laws regarding use by dogs, worries for Wirral and Parliamentary debate. To Americans advertising for a NANNY LI/LO for a 9 year old boy, it means Live In Live Out. To the Scottish Police a LILO is something else entirely. For some they are heaven sent in unexpected inundations of the dangerous chemical Dihydrogen Monoxide or DHMO, the dangers of which are better expressed by the more popular name of Hydric Acid, abuse of which, especially in relation to unintended inhalation requires much better regulation and provisions for Health and Safety than currently exist. In absence of DHMO, however, lilos can be used for stage decoration and are known for giving pleasure to the blind and fond rembrances of a 12 year old of doing things with lilos he had never considered before (presumably Dr. Joachim Mrurgowsky was engaged in deliberate sabotage in wasting time on developing life-like similarity when Kove had already done something entirely adequate - clearly the Germans didn't know that they needed lilos at the bombed SS-Hygiene-Institute in Dresden having given the edge to England by exporting Kove whatever he had been famous for - whether lilos or some innocent bambola gonfiabile - the source of much humour in Italian puncturation especially to the fashionable Milanese who take to the beaches on lilos in their thousands), as well as thankful memories of people travelling on Siamese Airways. Lifeguards at Greenacres neurotically ban lilos in case someone gets stuck underneath one. Other people get stuck to them and for Amy, choosing between the guys and the lilos was a problem. Gyrodactylus salaris love lilos on which to travel to find salmon.
Clearly lilos should be banned with such a multitude of uses and enthusiasts. That's what they think in Brussels where the European Forum for Responsible Drinking includes lilos in their list of Prohibited Physical Point of Sale or Promotional items in common with
Everyone calls them lilos from Hansard to HM Customs and Excise Tariff Classification Service and Hospital Accident Data codes and official inquiries into comfort in prisons to competitors in the Literature development for London competition to football fans at football matches where men play with rubber rings, lilos and inflatable sharks, to primary schools where children are taught that air in lilos makes them float as mentioned in government reports, to Clare Falconer in Llandough in Wales talking about a new trend in Malaysia to boot sales -
Two stalls with lilos at a boot sale:
Guess what? People refer to them and understand them as lilos!
The word "lilos" really describe a genre of products all by themselves - they're not simply airbeds as children prefer to jump on adults rather than lilos and you'd be really disappointed looking for them, even at Wallmart if the word lilo did not exist. Even dogs love them.
You fall asleep. Of course you do. You fall asleep and you drift about in the bay for five minutes, but then the current begins to take you out of the bay and you are carried out to sea. You awaken and find that you are miles away and you do not know how long you have been asleep or where you are. You have lost your bearings!
I would suggest to you this morning that we live in a society in which most people have been on a lilo for the majority of their lives. Some of them are waking up and wondering what on earth is going on, some are paddling like crazy but have lost their bearing and are madly paddling their way off towards China.
Most people are adrift in a vast expanse in which they have lost their spiritual bearings. Faith is in pretty short supply. It is for some people an unknown quantity. Our society has been slowly losing its faith. For many people it happened so slowly that like boiling a frog they never realised until it was too late and it was gone. But yes, it's never too late to find it again as long as you find it before you land on the shores of Albania.
So lilos can lead to heaven and get your faith out of a hole - they have certainly been known to do it for cars and help an escape from a cruise, although this is only advised, apparently if you have a grappling hook near a bridge. Otherwise tragic consequences can ensue. On the search for lilos you'll find them used as doors at Langa near Cape Town in South Africa.
The hyphenated lilo . . . don't be fooled . . . the 2005 one in the supermarkets was fake!
That's what the trademark is there for - to avoid confusion as to the origins and associated quality of merchandise . . . so ASDA made a boob in using the hyphenated word under the Kid Connection brand in 2005 . . . They probably intended use of the hyphenated word as generic, but it is the hyphenated word which always was, and is, a registered trademark. Certainly it caused confusion as it was easy to think that the old all capitals high quality luxury hyphenated brand were marketing lilos again with a new "ASDA prices" image. But they weren't . . . it was an insult to the old luxury brand and the supermarket had to withdraw them from sale on their shelves and were probably destroyed. They were thin (leightweight is an advantage for travelling) and expected not to last (what do you expect for 97p - something that can be confused with a Kitkat on the Isle of Wight?) and so other than one or two rescued from trash piles on south of France beaches, they'll become rare and collectable like the Dorrien Magens shillings of 1798 which all had to be melted down . . . Seriously, though, lilos which are so cheap as to be considered "disposable" by their owners are a nightmare for coastguards.
A branded product should always be referred to as a proper adjective modifying a generic noun, so people actively paying GoogleAds on the generic word "lilo" using "Lilo" as the adjective and "Inflatables" as the generic noun could be causing confusion with the hyphenated brand.
Lilos not all made by the hyphenated company are immortalised on New Zealand stamps for the reason that "The lilo has played a starring role for many years in New Zealand beach culture . . . " where "the kids who had spent summer afternoons at the river or the beach floating like inverted beetles in bloated rubber innertubes from a tractor tyre quickly adapted the lilo to the same purpose". The word has become an understood verb with people lilo-ing or liloing down rivers such as the River Colo. It has spawned the Glen Nevis Lilo race Ibiza races and Lilo trips organised by clubs of Macquarie University. There's even an international lilo race. In such contexts the word is defined by the BBC as "Inflatable man-sized bed" immortalised by a Turner Prize exhibit in The Tate Gallery with two blow-up dolls in the act of fellatio lying on a lilo. Someone who lilos successfully across a river is known as a "Master liloer" as is also someone who installs Linux on a computer. Because health and safety whimps think that lilos are a hazard in pools some people who like to explore their own back yards without going as far as the Wollangambe rebel and take liloing to extremes - "Search, discover and lilo". According to Cybersleuth-kids Lilo is one of an endangered species but really seems to have babies all over the place. At Dymchurch in 1965 or 1955 a lilo shop was photographed but the objects sold were not of the hyphenated brand. The hyphenated brand had to fight back with matchbooks advertising "Insist on a Genuine . . ." with a picture of a lilo and and a 1950s lady with the hyphenated word.
According to standard sources this was as good as setting fire to the trademark, defying trademark grammar advice and good practice as the word was now a noun rather than a brand descriptor adjective. In 1956, P B Cow advertised again "When you're through with gardening, get a LI-LO and relax." It wasn't the name of the company, it was the name of the object which they were making
- it wasn't an airbed or air-mattress, the object was to be known by the word and immortalised by the concept that the syllables evoked. With such marketing, the word was to become generic. Were this not to have been their intention, the Sealed Air company provides a good example of how to handle brand marketing.
In 1960 George MacLellan & Co in Glasgow were advertising rubberised canvas things that looked just like lilos from the hyphenated brand and marketed them under the name "Sea-Esta".
These were really expensive luxury items in 1960: you can multiply the value of money by 30 now . . . so 49/6 (49 shillings and sixpence - £2.9.6 was nearly the value of £75 now and £3.7.6 was nearly £100 and 82/3 or £4 and 3 shillings was over £120)
When the hyphenated brand lilos were used in water, as they were intended to be . . .
the printed label wore off
(together with the instructions "do not over-inflate") and no-one could
tell a lilo from a hyphenated brandmarked "universal" lilo, especially as you kept them nozzle side up
so the stoppers didn't come out unexpectedly
so any mark remaining was hidden on the distinctive orange under-side and the English language was given a new word . . .
The word derived from "lie low" was simply too descriptive of what people do on the pool or on water
for the spoken words not to be expected to enter popular use for all objects of the genre - unlike the meaningless connection between apples and computers marketed by Apple, the lilo word was universally understood and applied - of course it was a lilow, as some would say. The last hyphenated lilo seen for sale in the shops was in the mid 1980s, probably of Taiwanese manufacture as at this stage the Streatham London factory making canvas/rubber lilos had closed, and ever since people have been buying inflatable beach airbed pool toys and calling them lilos, for some, creating heaven.
From the great British seaside resorts of Woolacombe, Southwold and Blackpool to beer adverts, Club babes, Richies Bar and San Miguelin Ibiza and Granada for instance, Brits have bought lilos. They are as ubiquitous as umbrellas and changing rooms in Tenerife or Jamaica or terminal illness in Spain, Trevor Wishart's Spanner. Wherever the Brits go, go lilos, whether in Guernsey, Cyprus, Gran Canaria, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Iceland or in Magaluf with Radio 1, especially if you are Kloofing to the North Pole. Lilos not of the hyphenated brand have gone to the ends of the earth . . . and even appear Nuclear Powered They provide a godsend for campers on the Thames and a feature of a Disney resort area villa in Florida, taken to places of incomprehensible relevance, the finest swimming stadium in the world and trekkers, welcomed at Moray, only surpassed by Eurotunnel in crossing the Channel and are recommended for Kinesthetic Sensory Development. Catching the imagination for travel, some compare 767 Virgins, long, huge and shiny silver to a luxurious lilo bed.
The London factory having closed left no hyphenated brand old fashioned rubberised canvas lilos were to be seen in the 1980s, giving the camping market to Barum in the Czech Republic. The entry of the hyphenated brand into the vinyl airbed market with a 5 tube plastic design
of the similar format to products found unuversally elsewhere
sealed the knot on the genericisation of public perception. Since the 1950s
PVC Inflatables were made all around the Mediterranean in the 1980s but Taiwan started to achieve dominance in the UK market in the 1980s with lots of manufacturers. Nowadays most are made in China, although perhaps some manufacturers still exist in Italy and Greece. Spanish airmats used to be brilliant then, with manufacturers such as Plastex, Safari Sub and Gre but Chinese products from a handful of factories dominate the market now.
The ASDA cheap generics were made by Aqua Leisure in the USA to the traditional 1980s PVC design and better than the type most commonly seen in the supermarkets in the cheap bracket which are uncomfortable.
Good cheap lilos are hard to find - after all the good old fashioned ones were luxury items! Without a seperately inflatable pillow, the air pressure from the body of these airmats blows up the pillow like a balloon and it's possibly fine for leaning on to a book, but not at all good for sleeping on. Make sure that you get something better when looking for cheap airmats on the High Street. If you are looking on the net, we are so fortunate in England and the antipodes having the word "lilo" to use for precision as Americans looking for luxury airbeds just can't find what they are looking for to use at the beach or at the pool. They have to use the word
The best cheap lilos . . .
If you would like a 20ft container load, then Toybrokers are the UK Intex wholesalers and can supply them. (Toybrokers are also an excellent source for salt based electrolytic clorine generators for swimming pools, so no chemicals are needed.)
Another type is modelled on the Gre design popular in Spain and Mallorca and now mass produced in China . . .
This type is not imported into England - one has to go to France to find them.
Meanwhile the language evolves - some people got confused with the Lido in Venice and associated swimming activities with the word "lido" and "lilo" and have started calling lilos lidos. Perhaps this had not resulted from blocked noses: in the mid 1980s there was a manufacturer in Taiwan who marketed inflatables under the brand "LIDO" . . .
The word also occurs in connexion with marine equipment and optical engineering with large inflation-deployed optics.
A few examples of lilos after the hyphenated brand . . .
A Mallorca 5 tube airmat made by Plastex in the mid 1980s. The vinyl was of high quality with a textured surface akin to the feel of leather.
A standard 5 tube airmat made by an unusual maker, possibly Israel, possibly early 1990s?
The infamous Baywatch lilo of 1996 sold by Wallmart which popularised airmats to young men throughout America but which many were too embarrassed to buy. Now very rare. Causes a great stir when taken to the beach in the south of France.
Gre were one of the principal Spanish manufacturers and this is an example of the classic design from the mid 1990s. The PVC was heavy duty, high quality and had a luxurious feel. These were brilliant for sleeping on and for use on water at the beach.
A transparent and decorated example made by Gre in Spain in around 1999. After this, Gre outsourced manufacture to China.
This is a copy of the Gre design made in China in 2005 in "Suntanner" format with a silver bottom and transparent top. It was bought in the south of France and marketed by Cash Jouets. The plastic is noticably thinner and probably doesn't last as long.
All trademarks and designs are the property of their owners and are only shown here for identification purposes. This site is not affiliated or connected with any brand or manufacturer. The information on this site is provided in good faith and arises from many years of collecting lilos but if you feel that it needs correction in any way or better if you have information to share about the word "lilo", its linguistics and use, the history of inflatable beach airbeds or any of the companies that made them, please feel free to contact historian at lilos.co.uk. If you have an old or unusual lilo that you're thinking of throwing away . . . it would be really appreciated in the museum! Thanks!
PLEA! We've just seen the report in the Daily Telegraph about the lilo which was decorated with "large pictures of marijuana leaves, spliffs and the words SEX DRUGS AND ROCK IN COSTA BRAVA" - which the family could not bring themselves to bring back to England. Please can you bring one back for the lilo museum!
The www.lilos.co.uk collection of lilos has been acquired over 20 years and this collection of lilo links is unique - so don't plagiarise!
HOLIDAY PLACES TO RENT WITH YOUR lilo
Make sure you travel comfortably - if you're going to the beach or camping - or if you fear an airport delay - pack a good airmat in your luggage!