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
Netanyahu also praised the House's censure of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who is one of a few House Democrats who have called for an end to the Israeli occupation. Rachel Schilke, Washington Examiner, 9 Nov. 2023 The first censure ever recorded was of Rep. William Stanbery in 1832 for insulting then-House Speaker Andrew Stevenson during a floor debate. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 8 Nov. 2023 The House debated the censure resolution Tuesday and voted on Tuesday night. Lauren Peller, ABC News, 7 Nov. 2023 One representative took most of the heat in the MAGA feud, however: Representative Chip Roy, who voted against the censure effort. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 The House will consider two censure resolutions Wednesday night, one from each party. Joella Carman, NBC News, 1 Nov. 2023 The censure resolution, which passed 234-188 with four voting present, centers on statements that Tlaib made after Hamas attacked Israel and Israel retaliated with strikes on Gaza. Katy Stech Ferek, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 Following the advancement of the censure resolution, Tlaib defended her posts in a speech on the House floor. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2023 No censure: House lawmakers on Wednesday voted against censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., following her comments about the Israel-Hamas war. Mark Murray, NBC News, 2 Nov. 2023
The mechanics of Shakespeare’s plot — unfolding first in rigid, tyrannized Sicilia and then in pastoral, sunnier Bohemia — hinge on our rooting for the characters Leontes so cruelly censures. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2023 Historically, censures are rare and have been reserved for acts that are criminal in nature. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2023 Censures are relatively rare -- only 25 House lawmakers had been censured in history.. Lauren Peller, ABC News, 7 Nov. 2023 Last week, a large number of House Democrats joined nearly all Republicans in voting to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, over her criticism of the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians. CBS News, 16 Nov. 2023 The House voted to censure Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, formally rebuking the sole Palestinian American in Congress for her statements regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Annie Karni, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2023 Folks are getting censured, canceled and fired for voicing their opinions. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2023 Tlaib is the fourth lawmaker to be censured since 2000. Katy Stech Ferek, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 Politics in Brief Democrat censured: House lawmakers censured Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian in Congress, over her remarks and actions in response to the Israel-Hamas war. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 8 Nov. 2023 See More

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 9 Dec. 2023.

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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