A PUBLISHING giant has shut down an online language study after users "severely" abused the system with vulgar words.

Oxford Dictionaries invited the world's population to put forward their most-despised English word as part of linguistic research.

The preliminary front-runner was revealed to be cringeworthy Christmas dinner favourite 'moist'.

But Oxford University Press, which runs the website, stripped the OneWordMap feature just hours after its launch on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Oxford Dictionaries said this afternoon: "Unfortunately, and despite our attempts to prevent negative behaviour on this site, we have had to take it down.

"While 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.”

Chloe Foster, OUP spokeswoman, added: "We had filtered out words marked as vulgar and offensive in our dictionaries, but this wasn’t enough to prevent the misuse that led to the results being unusable."

In an earlier statement, Oxford Dictionaries hoped the OneWordMap would "improve communication through an understanding and passion for language".

It launched with a theme asking "what is your least favourite English word?"

Initial answers pointed to 'moist', 'no' and 'Brexit' as strong contenders.

A team of researchers at the website had hoped to pull together a list of the least popular words by country, age, and gender.