Looking deeper into the list, I felt a creeping sense of déjà vu. It turns out that a healthy majority of the entries come from a single source. In 2005, Merriam-Webster asked users of its online dictionary, “What’s your favorite word that’s not in the dictionary?” It compiled a top ten list (and later, with much fanfare, announced that the top vote-getter, ginormous, would enter the next edition of the Collegiate Dictionary). Beyond the top ten, Merriam-Webster provided a list of “Previous Favorite Words (Not in the Dictionary).” Of the 39 words listed by the Telegraph, a whopping 27 of them — from asphinxiation (“being sick to death of unanswerable puzzles or riddles”) to wurfing (“the act of surfing the Internet while at work”) — come from Merriam-Webster’s 2005 selection of “previous favorite words.”
Of the remaining words on the Telegraph list, some (such as freegan, griefer, and nonversation) have their own entries in Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary, an ongoing compendium of user-generated suggestions. A few others have actually achieved dictionary status already. Earworm, locavore, and pharming can all be found in the latest edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
Ah, journalism! Ah, humanity!