It was released at the end of 1988 — the year that had seen Wilde release a best-selling album, have four international hits (including the chart-topping "You Came") and support Michael Jackson on the European leg of his world tour.
"Four Letter Word" marked the first occasion in Wilde's then eight-year career where she released a straight ballad as a single. It also marked her last release of a song written by her father and brother (who had written the majority of her early hits together, including the pop classic "Kids in America)". It became her third consecutive UK Top 10 single from "Close", reaching number 6.
An extended version as well as an acoustic remix of "Four Letter Word" were released as a 12" and CD-single.