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The Adventure of English

Melvyn Bragg UCL

My favourite word of the moment is ‘Mountweazel’. My curious fingertips stumbled across this short article in the New Yorker from 2005 which explains Mountweazels more succinctly than I ever could. Did you know that dictionaries often add in fictitious words as a copyright trap? The article states that the 2005 edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary contains a made-up word beginning with ‘E’ and a shortlist of six possible Mountweazels surfaced and the list was sent to various lexicography experts and they (correctly) agreed that the word ‘esquivalience’ was the imposter (I admit, of the list, that’s not the one I would have chosen!). I summoned my Dictionary programme that lies in the dock area of my Mac and typed in ‘esquivalience’ and there lies a definition consistent with the false entry from the NOAD:

Esquivalience

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