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24 February 2004

Lost for 4-letter Words -- the freesearch Dictionary Top 10 Words We Look Up Online

Leading UK online dictionary highlights the 10 English-language words users search for most: harshest 4-letter expletives hold two of the top three places

The leading online dictionary for UK English,, has today released a Top 10 listing of its most frequently-searched words. The listing shows that despite their common usage in everyday language, the meanings of the harshest swear words f**k and c**t are still a matter of curiosity to many people in Britain. (also available at currently handles a word search every second from UK users - or around 2.5 million word searches per month - with traffic growing daily. The most popular searches are:

1. f**k

2. liaise

3. c**t

4. holistic

5. paradigm

6. affect

7. tw*t

8. effect

9. practise

10. love

The freesearch team report that f**k represents around 1 in every 1,000 dictionary searches, and is keyed in by users 50% more frequently than the modern jargon terms holistic or paradigm, at numbers 4 and 5 in the listing.

freesearch founder Shakil Khan believes that, despite the fact the f- and c-words are among the last taboos of mainstream TV and print media, the general public appears to be ambivalent about the true meaning of the words. When John Lydon recently made his famous outburst during ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, less than 100 complaints were received from well over 10 million viewers.

Khan said: These words have become casual expletives, so that many people are desensitised to hearing or reading them in everyday situations. Because they are commonly used they have become separated from their original meanings, and in fact become almost meaningless. Whether they cause offence now depends entirely on the context of use.

Of course, the popular search words for an online resource like the freesearch Dictionary will reflect the profile of those using the site, and typical Web users tend to be in the 12 to 30 age group. However the findings still show how many people are trying to get to grips with the English language as it constantly changes and evolves, Khan said.

With expletives removed, the freesearch Dictionary Top 10 search words is:

1. liaise

2. holistic

3. paradigm

4. affect

5. effect

6. practise

7. love

8. metaphor

9. liase (sic)

10. practice

The list also highlights confusion among UK users over near-homonyms such as affect and effect and on spelling variants practice and practise.

English-language dictionary editors and compilers worldwide have noted how rapidly new words are entering the English language in the last decade. This is attributed to the speed at which the web can spread little-known words into wider usage, and publish them for easy access. Around 800 new words are officially recognised in the English language each year. uses a regularly-updated database of over 150,000 British English terms, complete with examples of usage and related words.

Issued on behalf of freesearch, visit

Contact Shakil Khan on 07940 123789

Press contact: Craig Coward, 01625 511966 /

About is a new search destination which gives users clean and easy-to-use web searches with no distracting pop-ups or confusing layouts. also provides a comprehensive picture search and British English dictionary search function. is aiming for Tier 1 search destination status in 2004.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Context PR in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Personal Finance, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit