One great example is "poonj," meaning to have sexual intercourse. The submitter included some etymological claims, in part that the term originated in the language of the Ojibwe native Americans. I find that pretty suspect, though it did appear on the site for some time before I removed it. The definition and the etymology were printed in the second edition of Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. To their credit, they did include "allegedly".
I'm not too concerned about the copyright aspect, though. And actually, I'm still unclear on the extent to which dictionary definitions are copyrightable.
Similar to putting a fake street on a map, I would think.
A United States federal court found that copyright traps are not
themselves protectable by copyright. There, the court
stated: "[t]o treat 'false' facts interspersed among actual facts
and represented as actual facts as fiction would mean that no one
could ever reproduce or copy actual facts without risk of
reproducing a false fact and thereby violating a copyright . . .
. If such were the law, information could never be reproduced or
widely disseminated." (Id. at 733)
How is a new dictionary supposed to source definitions without using current dictionaries? Aren't existing dictionaries essentially the "canon"?
No, because that isn't how dictionaries work. Dictionaries, and this goes back to the very first dictionaries, have always paid people to look at current usage and write definitions based on that. Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive; they reflect usage, not control it.
The OED is well-known for its citations backing up its definitions, and they have a very strong bias towards actual usage as opposed to other dictionaries.
Edited to add: Some dictionaries are prescriptive to an extent. Those are the ones that define terms used in a controlled vocabulary, such as technical terms used in a specific field. When the CRC handbook says that this is what 'butyl' means, for example, it is pretty well taken to be prescriptive among chemists.
This would be interesting: Can adding a word to a dictionary be a method of introducing it into the language as it is actually used? I don't know, and, you're right, nobody seems to talk about that. This is the kind of thing you need corpus linguistics to figure out:
> Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples (corpora) of "real world" text. This method represents a digestive approach to deriving a set of abstract rules by which a natural language is governed or else relates to another language.
Finding out how (or whether) a given word is used is right up that field's alley.
I've heard rumors that there are lexicographers have other ideas about this, but I've never actually found anything about lexicography other than what you've described.
A bit OT, but if you enjoy the sort of info in the OED and are interested in how it was created, this book is an interesting read:
It's almost like saying "you have a thread scheduler in your operating system and are violating copyright." No, that is a core component of an operating system, just like a word is a core component of the English language (fictitious or not, once it enters an accepted dictionary it becomes a word - other dictionaries are forced to define it due to the nature of language).
It's especially fun because my popup shows the fake definition at the top, and the wikipedia explanation below it :) - not sure if that's because of my settings or if it is the default behaviour.