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.
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.
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