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  • Update, 7: 32 PM, 8/27/05: It's pretty apparent that (unless new information emerges) the young journalists and others at SIU were not engaged in esquivalience -- that is, the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities.

    Archive 2005-08-01

  • However, (if we agree that language is constantly evolving), now that I have made the suggestion that the SIU newspaper staff is largely esquivalience-free, have I helped make "esquivalience" slightly more legitimate (especially if others do likewise) in the same way that some of Elmyr's fakes are now valued as art?

    Archive 2005-08-01

  • Having said this, I think "esquivalience" is a perfectly cromulent word. ESQUIVALIENCE, OR RELEASING GIANT TURTLES.

  • "The New Oxford American Dictionary" even fessed up to a recent mountweazel: "esquivalience," meaning "the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities." esquivalience, and no matter what our beloved Snopes might say, we respectfully choose to retain ghost words like Copyright Easter Eggs - an overview of copyright traps on maps, with some notable examples.

    The Spark of Yahoo!

  • "The New Oxford American's entry for" esquivalience "defines it as" the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities; the shirking of duties, "as in," After three subordinates attested to his esquivalience, Lieutenant Claiborne was dismissed. "

    April 2008

  • Dictionary "even fessed up to a recent mountweazel:" esquivalience, "meaning" the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities. "esquivalience, and no matter what our beloved Snopes might say, we respectfully choose to retain ghost words like

    The Spark of Yahoo!

  • Similar to when Welles asked what art was, and wanted to know why the experts weren't fakers and the forger wasn't the expert, am I helping perpetuate another hoax by discussing the esquivalience or lack of esquivalience of the SIU journalism students?

    Archive 2005-08-01

  • Anonymous: Although some might accuse me of practicing esquivalience I assure you that I do not and I am not giving up my pot of etymological gold, else I would lose the Bacon Crown of Pedantry.

    Prometheus Award Finalists: TGB is In « Whatever

  • Upon being presented with the majority opinion, McKean confirmed that “esquivalience” was a fabricated word. ESQUIVALIENCE, OR RELEASING GIANT TURTLES.

  • It turned out to be esquivalience, "the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities." ESQUIVALIENCE, OR RELEASING GIANT TURTLES.


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  • I am rather fond of fake words such as esquivalience and its sister word esquivalient. Firstly, becuase my forum posts typo error rate earned me a free membership in the Typonese Erratum Club, and thirdly because tossing in a few fictishious vowel-consonant strings that an opponint fails too challenge makes teh game of Scrabble demisfully sprubious. If you haven't played a game of Scrabbull (Scrabble played after midnight with the special characters tiles @   *   ~ and shots of vodka) you haven't lived.

    February 16, 2014

  • Scroll down for Erin McKean cameo in anecdote.

    April 27, 2011

  • I read it. It's good!

    April 27, 2011

  • That book looks interesting, I'm going to have to read it.

    October 28, 2007

  • oroboros' mention of kelemenopy reminds me of the book "Ella Minnow Pea" by Mark Dunn.

    Described as a "progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable", the book is an epistolary novel set in the fictional island of Nollop situated off the coast of South Carolina and home to the man who invented the phrase The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog. Now deceased, the islanders have erected a monument to honor their hero, but one day a tile with the letter "Z" falls from the statue. The leaders interpret the falling tile as a message from beyond the grave and the letter is banned from use. On an island where the residents pride themselves on their love of language, this is seen as a tragedy. They are still reeling from the shock, when another tile falls and then another....Mark Dunn takes us on a journey against time through the eyes of Ella Minnow Pea and her family as they race to find another phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet to save them from being unable to communicate. Eventually, the only letters remaining are LMNOP, when Ella finally discovers the pangram that will save their language.

    October 28, 2007

  • see mountweazel

    October 28, 2007

  • Here's another one along these lines: kelemenopy.

    May 4, 2007

  • All you have to do is use the word, and it's real. I think the only litmus test for a word's legitimacy is whether or not people use it.

    May 4, 2007

  • Does the presence of a word in a dictionary make it "real"? Even if the publishers admit it was made up? I kind of think so.. Plus I want it to be real because I love it so.

    May 4, 2007

  • thanks you guys!! *blush*

    yeah, dord is how I found this, I was reading about the story and I believe it was cross-referenced in Wikipedia.

    I think my favorite thing about "esquivalience" though is the definition - that's my favorite thing to do!

    April 18, 2007

  • Great background, arby. I remember hearing something similar about makers of street maps, except that they will add a fictitious street name.

    March 12, 2007

  • this is excellent, arby. thank you.

    March 11, 2007

  • It's stories like these that make dictionaries really fascinating to me. It would seem the lexicographers like to have their fun, too. See also: dord

    March 11, 2007

  • from Wikipedia:

    Esquivalience, according to the August 29, 2005 New Yorker article "Ink: Not a Word" by Henry Alford, is a fictitious entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD), which was designed and included to protect copyright of the publication. The word was invented by Christine Lindberg, one of the editors of the NOAD. It was leaked that the dictionary had put in a fake word in the letter "e" and Alford set out to find the word. It was discovered after review of a short list by several experts. When the editor, Erin McKean, was contacted she admitted that it was indeed a fake word and had been in since the first edition, in order to protect the copyright of the CD-ROM edition.

    The word is defined as "the wilful avoidance of one's official responsibilities."

    March 11, 2007