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What is common between the following words and names?
(Inspired by this except that I actually know the answer to this one)

  • Defeat
  • Kleenex?
  • Guanaco
  • Nerdiest
  • Sardar
  • Ian McKellen
  • Dingo
  • Gun
  • Diablo
  • Essayed?
  • Atlanta
  • Glycose
  • Get
  • Earns
  • Group
  • Desmid
  • Terraculture

The answer is self-confirming.

Hint:

Does it seem like these words have nothing in common? Does it seem like attempting this puzzle will result in failure?
I may not be asking quite what you think I am asking. The tags and hints in the post will guide you. : )

Hint:

The answer is non-trivial. For example, 'Unallowed' cannot be added to this list even though it has a capital, has a hyphen/bullet, is a word, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ All the words described have their vowels numbered as a prime (I am considering 1 as a prime) but Ian Mckellen is not working. Also, those question marks -- do they mean anything? Like are you asking whether it satisfies the condition or not? [Originally posted as an answer because user hadn't enough rep to comment -- The Mgmt] $\endgroup$
    – Aghilan
    Jan 17 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(gurl'er nyy jbeqf va gur dhrfgvba?) hahaha I very much doubt that's the correct answer, interested in seeing what people come up with $\endgroup$
    – Helen
    Jan 18 at 13:08
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I think we may successfully

insert win between each pair of words to find a word formed from neighbouring letters.

The list is:

Defeat - twinkle - Kleenex
Kleenex? - X-wing - Guanaco (question mark as a proper name and a hyphen)
Guanaco - cowinner - Nerdiest
Nerdiest - twins - Sardar
Sardar - Darwinian - Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen - enwinding - Dingo
Dingo - owing - Gun
Gun - unwind - Diablo
Diablo - blowiness - Essayed
Essayed? - Edwina - Atlanta (question mark as a proper name)
Atlanta - awing - Glycose
Glycose - sewing - Get
Get - twine - Earns
Earns - swing - Group
Group - upwind - Desmid
Desmid - midwinter - Terraculture
Per the hint, I don't think any word can end in 'win' and a prefix of 'unallowed'.

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent work finding what is common between the words! $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Jan 18 at 18:31
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Well, the [lateral-thinking] tag is there, so

if we take "between" rather literally, there are bullet points between all the pairs of words, so those are "common between" them. (The hint does say "I may not be asking quite what you think I am asking".)

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  • $\begingroup$ Great guess and you are in the right mindset. Could be correct except it is not self-confirming. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Jan 17 at 14:51
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Maybe it is

the Font?

That would explain why there are question marks, as

the words are replaceable with every sign or letter in that font.
My problem is the "english" tag. The language would be irrelevant - but there is a font called "effort" like mentioned in the title so maybe I'm just missing something.

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  • $\begingroup$ No, the English language is important for seeing the solution. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Jan 17 at 21:17

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