Luke Ngakane, a 22-yer-old graphic designer, learned of the vault’s existence while working on a project for Kingston University, London.
The words had been submitted for use, but will not be added to the dictionary unless they become commonly used in the future.
“I was fascinated when I read that the Oxford University Press has a vault where all their failed words, which didn't make the dictionary, are kept,” Ngakane told The Telegraph
. “This storeroom contains millions of words and some of them date back hundreds of years.
“It's a very hush, hush vault and I really struggled to find out information about it because it is so secretive. But when I spoke to them they were happy to confirm its existence and although I didn't actually get to see the room they did send me some examples.
''I picked out the words that resonated with me and really seemed to fit the purpose they were intended for. I get really excited when I hear someone using one of them because if enough people pick them up then maybe they will make it into the dictionary after all.”
Millions of words, some dating back before 1918, are written on four by six inch cards and stored alphabetically in 50 large filing cabinets. Newer words are saved digitally.
Fiona McPherson, senior editor of the OED's new words group, told The Telegraph
: “They are words which we haven't yet put in. I don't like calling them reject words because we will revisit them at some point and they may well go in.
'”They are not yet considered suitable for the dictionary because there's not enough evidence that people are using them.
'”If a word does come to our attention we can come to this room and check if it's here. A lot of times people say these words but they are not written down or published.”
She said newspapers and novels are checked for new words and people sometimes write to let them know about new words.
Anything that goes into the OED is never removed.
Ngakane considered hundreds of words before choosing 39 to etch onto a metal press plate and print onto A4 paper for his graphic design degree.
Some of his favourites are "furgling", which is the act of fumbling in your pocket for keys or loose change; "dringle", the watermark left by a glass of liquid, and "earworm", a catchy tune that you can’t get out of your head.
Scrax was the word suggested for the silver foil coating on scratch cards, fumb is the large toe, accordionated means being able to drive and refold a map at the same time, a freegan is someone who rejects consumerism - usually by eating discarded food, a griefer is someone who spends their online time harassing others, a nonversation is a worthless conversation; optotoxical is a look that could kill; percuperate means to prepare for the possibility of being ill; smushables are items that must be packed at the top of a bag to avoid being squashed; and wurfing is the act of surfing the Internet while at work.