Offensive language ruins search for world's worst word

The OneWorldMap website Image copyright OUP
Image caption More than 10,000 people used the service on Thursday

A search for the most-hated word in the English language has been halted after an online survey was bombarded with offensive language.

Oxford Dictionaries launched a service on its website so people could vote for their least favourite words, but it was shut down after "severe misuse".

Oxford University Press said a mixture of swear words and "religiously offensive vocabulary" were to blame.

On Thursday, "moist" became the early front-runner for most-hated word.

'Negative behaviour'

Oxford University Press said in a statement the OneWorldMap initiative "was intended as a way to encourage a positive engagement with language".

It added: "Unfortunately, and despite our attempts to prevent negative behaviour on this site, we have had to take down the site.

"Whilst this is disappointing, we strongly believe in the importance of engaging with the wider community to enhance our understanding of the English language, and will continue to investigate ways of doing so."

More than 10,000 people had responded to the survey.

Before the service was removed, Dan Braddock, from Oxford University Press, said they were "not entirely sure what to expect" from the experiment.

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