A CONTESTANT on the popular Countdown afternoon television show, Mark Murphy, turned the air blue with his vocabulary after he spelt and named a six letter swear word.
The IT consultant formed the word ''w-----'' from available letters RAEPKWAEN when he appeared on the pre-recorded Channel 4 programme.
Judges eventually awarded six points for the word because it is in the dictionary.
The contestant, from Edinburgh, left new host Nick Hewer, 67, momentarily lost for words as he came up with his word among his nine consonants and vowels.
After 30 seconds of pondering, Mr Murphy stifled laughter as he told the host amid cackles from the studio audience and which also left viewers surprised. It was bleeped out.
"Right, and, um, Nick?" asked Hewer, formerly Lord Sugar’s longest-serving sidekick on The Apprentice, as he turned to Mr Murphy's opponent Nick Evans.
Mr Evans, a VIP chauffeur from Macclesfield, Cheshire, suggested the eight letter word "weakener" but he was found to be short of a necessary third ''e''.
Hewer, who managed to keep a straight face throughout, asked expert Susie Dent, in dictionary corner: ''Where does Mark stand on this?'' and was told: '''He stands fine on this, absolutely, it's in the dictionary. We must allow it.''
Hewer, who became the fifth presenter of what is Channel 4's longest-running show when he took over at the start of the year, replied: "Jolly good".
Rachel Riley, a co-host, did not spell it out on the board. Moments after it was aired, viewers bombarded Twitter with comments, sparking debate.
A user Andrea Burns, wrote: "Funny moment on Countdown ... contestant gave the word w***** but they bleeped it ... it's in the dictionary. why bleep?"
Mr Murphy, who was making his fourth appearance on the long-running Channel 4 daytime show, went on to win the bout, by 98 points to 34.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as "British vulgar slang. A contemptible person". The word was first issued in 1991 on the quiz show, which has been broadcast by Channel 4 for almost 30 years.
Host Richard Whitely admitted it would be "interesting to see if that's in the dictionary" when both players, Lawrence Pearce and Gino Corr, offered its plural version. The round was played again.
Des O’Connor had a contestant offer the same word in 2008 while dictionary corner guest Christine Hamilton fell victim during an appearance in 2003.
At the time she 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 better move on.”
Fans of the show say that other swear words as well as words such as "sex" have been used previously but executives say they rarely are awarded points.
A spokesman for the show, which first aired in 1982, confirmed "w-----" was valid because it was not a swear word but instead classed as "vulgar slang".
“The word was bleeped out and not shown on the board to ensure the programme is suitable for its daytime audience," he added.