'Misuse' forces closure of Oxford Dictionaries survey

'Misuse' forces closure of Oxford Dictionaries survey

Oxford Dictionaries has closed its survey for the least popular English word a day after it was launched due to “severe misuse” of the feature.

The dictionary publisher launched the #OneWordMap campaign to produce "the largest and most global" survey into people's language gripes, with the first question seeking to find the least popular words in the English language.

When the survey first opened for submissions last week, “moist” was in the lead for lists in the UK, US and Australia. It was later overtaken by “Brexit”, which went on to top the UK’s list, and “British” was in third place.

A notice on the #OneWordMap webpage now reads: "We regret to inform users that due to severe misuse we have had to remove this feature from our website."

According to the Guardian, Oxford Dictionaries did not expand on which words had caused the removal of the feature, saying only that it was “a mixture of swearwords and religiously offensive” vocabulary. Posts on Twitter suggest that some users’ picks for their least favourite words included “Islam” and “Israel”.

A spokesperson for Oxford Dictionaries said: "On Thursday we launched an initiative on oxforddictionaries.com, OneWordMap, which was intended as a way to encourage a positive engagement with language. Unfortunately, and despite our attempts to prevent negative behaviour on this site, we have had to take the site down. 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."