cen·​sor·​ship | \ ˈsen(t)-sər-ˌship How to pronounce censorship (audio) \

Definition of censorship

1a : the institution, system, or practice of censoring They oppose government censorship.
b : the actions or practices of censors especially : censorial control exercised repressively censorship that has … permitted a very limited dispersion of facts— Philip Wylie
2 : the office, power, or term of a Roman censor
3 : exclusion from consciousness by the psychic censor

Examples of censorship in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Those books were so gruesome that threats from Congress forced self-censorship on the industry, which in 1954 instituted the Comics Code Authority. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The In-Your-Face Paintings of Peter Saul," 10 Feb. 2020 Topics relating to censorship itself, usually absolutely verboten, trended for several hours before being deleted, rare evidence of indecision and confusion. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Deadliest day for coronavirus as mainland China records 86 fatalities, while US announces first American death," 8 Feb. 2020 On social media, some criticized the decision to cancel the event as self-censorship and denying free speech. NBC News, "U.S. university in Qatar cancels rock band's talk after anti-gay backlash," 3 Feb. 2020 The team was already busy: Xi had intensified what could be called the privatization of censorship, in which companies themselves were charged with taking down posts the government might deem problematic or risk fines or closure. New York Times, "Her Uighur Parents Were Model Chinese Citizens. It Didn’t Matter.," 29 Jan. 2020 In sum, the book has raised divisive questions about censorship, representation and the politics of fiction, homing in on a single dilemma: Who has the right to tell certain stories? Los Angeles Times, "Who has the right to tell certain stories? ‘American Dirt’ sparks conversations about the politics of fiction," 17 Jan. 2020 Fired Google employees protested the company’s contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a project to create a custom search engine to comply with Chinese censorship, and developing drone technology for the Pentagon. Mallory Moench, SFChronicle.com, "Fired Google employees active in labor organizing to file NLRB complaint," 3 Dec. 2019 These acts of censorship chip away at the public’s trust in the authorities—at the exact time when the state most needs it in dealing with a public health crisis. Mary Hui, Quartz, "China’s coronavirus outbreak is unfolding in a new age of information—and surveillance," 26 Jan. 2020 Russia so far has tread relatively carefully in its censorship efforts. Washington Post, "The Kremlin has its hands in the Internet around the world. It’s also trying to control cyberspace at home.," 26 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'censorship.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of censorship

circa 1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for censorship

censor entry 1 + -ship

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Time Traveler for censorship

Time Traveler

The first known use of censorship was circa 1591

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Statistics for censorship

Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Censorship.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/censorship. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for censorship


How to pronounce censorship (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of censorship

: the system or practice of censoring books, movies, letters, etc.


cen·​sor·​ship | \ ˈsen-sər-ˌship How to pronounce censorship (audio) \

Kids Definition of censorship

: the system or practice of examining writings or movies and taking out things considered offensive or immoral


cen·​sor·​ship | \ ˈsen(t)-sər-ˌship How to pronounce censorship (audio) \

Medical Definition of censorship

: exclusion from consciousness by the psychic censor

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Legal Definition of censorship

: the institution, system, or practice of censoring — compare freedom of speech, prior restraint

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More from Merriam-Webster on censorship

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with censorship

Spanish Central: Translation of censorship

Nglish: Translation of censorship for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of censorship for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about censorship

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