I'm late to the party with this one, but I feel strangely compelled to post.
(If nothing else, it may be because Erin McKean
is cute... *smile*)
So, I was watching the video of Erin McKean speaking at Gooooogle,
and at one point in her talk, she used the phrase "copyright trap". This
intrigued me, so I went searching.
Now, I'm not new to the idea of fictitious entries in reference materials,
but the thought of such a thing in a dictionary had never crossed my mind.
I'd always thought of these in the context of maps, because slipping in a
fake geographic feature always seemed plausible. Slipping a word into the
dictionary, though? Hmm...
A quick run over to Goooooogle for the search terms erin.mckean copyright.trap
turned up several great hits, including a post from languagehat.com
that explained, in detail, what this was all about. Essentially, esquivalience
is a made-up word that the editorial staff of the The New Oxford American Dictionary
put in the first edition of the book, ostensibly to protect copyright.
This is all great fun to me, and I'm going to try to work the word esquivalience
into my normal vocabulary. It's a great word, and I think it would be even
more amusing if the word actually became a "real" word!