Esquivalience Nathan Bierma’s On Language column in the Chicago Tribune this week reports that the New Yorker has found a fake word in the New Oxford American Dictionary. Its editors inserted it in the first edition of 2001 as a copyright trap. It’s often said that compilers of reference works do this as a way to reveal competitors whose admiration for their work becomes—let us say—a little over-enthusiastic, but for obvious reasons it’s usually difficult to confirm this. The word is now known—if you have a copy of the NOAD, please ignore the entry for esquivalience, supposedly the wilful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities or the shirking of duties (the duty here being to check from your own research that the word actually exists).
This leads me to the question, how is a word created? Doesn't esquivalience's presence in the dictionary and the fact that it's being discussed mean that it now exists? It's not a particularly good word; I think I prefer to continue calling this condition "slacking off."
On the other hand, I think these new words are about to take off!