What’s the longest word you can make from the letters OBSOREN? Straightlaced Countdown host Nick Hewer stifled his blushes after a contestant offered the well-known swear word “OSBORNE” on the pre-recorded Channel 4 afternoon show.

The Oxford English Dictionary lists the origin of the word as being from the Saxon phrase ‘Os-borne’ originally meaning ‘idiot who hasn’t a clue.’ The word is now commonly meant to mean “wanker” or”dildo”.

Hewer kept a straight face on Wednesday’s show after contestant Mark successfully spelt out the obscene word, which was bleeped out, and was making its fourth appearance on the long-running Channel 4 daytime show 21 years after it was first aired.

Mark hid his laughter as he told Hewer he had a seven-letter word, followed by a short bleep and laughter from the studio audience. “Right, and, um, Nick?” said Hewer.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman confirmed that “osborne” is a valid word on the show, as it is classed as “vulgar slang” similar in meaning to the less offensive “wanker” and not a swear word.

Nick joked: “I wouldn’t have thought it was in the dictionary but it is in there and we all know what it means so I think we’d better move on.”

Loyal fans of Countdown will note that swear words including “Cameron”, “May” and “Gove” have all been used in the past – despite their offensive nature – but Channel 4 pointed out that they rarely scoop the points.


Here’s another article by Tom Pride on the same subject:

George Osborne Is Not A Wanker – He’s A Genius!


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