1 of 2


cen·​sure ˈsen(t)-shər How to pronounce censure (audio)
: a judgment involving condemnation
unorthodox practices awaiting the censure of the city council
: the act of blaming or condemning sternly
The country faces international censure for its alleged involvement in the assassination.
: an official reprimand
The lawyer's misconduct resulted in a letter of censure from the judge.
archaic : opinion, judgment


2 of 2


censured; censuring ˈsen(t)-sh(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce censure (audio)

transitive verb

: to find fault with and criticize as blameworthy
She would tell him it was … no sign of a good pastor to be eternally censuring his flock.Charlotte Brontë
: to formally reprimand (someone) : to express official censure of (someone)
While a vote to censure the president has no legal ramifications, it is a significant and rare symbolic vote of disapproval.Emma Loop
obsolete : estimate, judge
censurer noun

Did you know?

Censure Has an Offical Connotation

If you’re among those who confuse censure and censor, we don’t blame you. The two words are notably similar in spelling and pronunciation, and both typically imply acts of authority. It’s no surprise that they share a common ancestor: the Latin cēnsēre, meaning “to give as an opinion.” But here’s the uncensored truth: despite the similarities, censure and censor are wholly distinct in meaning. Censure means “to fault or reprimand,” often in an official way; censor means “to suppress or delete as objectionable.” So if you’re talking about removing objectionable content from a book or banning it from a library, the word you want is censor. And you can use censure to talk about criticizing, condemning, or reprimanding those pushing for censorship.

Choose the Right Synonym for censure

criticize, reprehend, censure, reprobate, condemn, denounce mean to find fault with openly.

criticize implies finding fault especially with methods or policies or intentions.

criticized the police for using violence

reprehend implies both criticism and severe rebuking.

reprehends the self-centeredness of today's students

censure carries a strong suggestion of authority and of reprimanding.

a Senator formally censured by his peers

reprobate implies strong disapproval or firm refusal to sanction.

reprobated his son's unconventional lifestyle

condemn usually suggests an unqualified and final unfavorable judgment.

condemned the government's racial policies

denounce adds to condemn the implication of a public declaration.

a pastoral letter denouncing abortion

Examples of censure in a Sentence

Noun The country faces international censure for its alleged involvement in the assassination. a rare censure of a senator by the full United States Senate for misconduct Verb He was censured by the committee for his failure to report the problem. a vote to censure the President for conduct that was unbecoming to his office
Recent Examples on the Web
In the first instance, city council said in the censure that on Jan. 20, Brown used a city plow to clear a parking lot at a private business outside the city. Jolene Almendarez, The Enquirer, 28 Mar. 2024 The censure for mishandling confidential information comes from a Jan. 29 incident, when Eisenberg reviewed a 2,000-page investigative report on her behavior. Nollyanne Delacruz, The Mercury News, 25 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for censure 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'censure.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French censure, borrowed from Latin cēnsūa "office of censor, assessment, moral oversight," from cēnsēre "to give as an opinion, perform the duties of a censor" + -ūra -ure — more at censor entry 1


derivative of censure entry 1, probably after Middle French censurer

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1590, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of censure was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near censure

Cite this Entry

“Censure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/censure. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
cen·​sure ˈsen-chər How to pronounce censure (audio)
: the act of blaming or condemning sternly
: an official expression of disapproval


2 of 2 verb
censured; censuring ˈsench-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce censure (audio)
: to find fault with
: to express formal disapproval of
censured the senator for misconduct
censurer noun

Legal Definition


cen·​sure ˈsen-chər How to pronounce censure (audio)
: an expression of official disapproval
a House resolution approving a censure of the representative
censure transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on censure

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