With Esquivalience I Present this Post


The chairman of the board of my company always wrote the minutes of the board meetings and circulated them to the board members a few days after the meetings for verification and editing. As it goes with such broadcasts, nobody reads them, and everyone responds that the minutes are “okay.”

What we didn’t know at first was that he purposely sprinkled odd spelling errors into the drafts so he could always tell whether we actually read them.

Once we figured this out, the race was on to find the “spello” and the minutes always got read from that point on.

Just like map makers used to put fake towns on their maps for copyright reasons, basically so they can tell who copied their work and come after them, the New Oxford American Dictionary did it with the word “esquivalience.” Now that the secret is out, I am sure there is a new word in there. Go find it!

I might note that my WordPress app does detect it as a fake:


So does Microsoft Word:


Here is the whole story from  Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia:

Esquivalience” 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 and discovered by Henry Alford.

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.

When fictitious matter is inserted in official documents it can be referred to as a paper town. Map makers used paper towns (a fake town on their map) for copyright reasons just as “the New Oxford American Dictionary” did with the word “esquivalience”.

The word is defined as “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities”.

The fake entry apparently ensnared dictionary.com, which included an entry for it (that has since been removed) that was attributed to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary, both of which are owned by the private company Lexico. Possibly due to its licensing of Oxford dictionaries, Google Dictionary included the word, listing three meanings and giving usage examples.

What do you think would happen if this were sprung on a high school spelling bee champion?


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