self-cen·​sor·​ship ˌself-ˈsen(t)-sər-ˌship How to pronounce self-censorship (audio)
plural self-censorships
: the act or action of refraining from expressing something (such as a thought, point of view, or belief) that others could deem objectionable
What effects does self-censorship have on the accuracy and predictive validity of opinion polls?Samuel J. Best and Benjamin Radcliff
If self-censorship were ineffective, direct prohibition would be substituted.Raymond Hutchings
self-censor verb, transitive + intransitive
self-censored; self-censoring; self-censors
She self-censors her language around the children.
I know our interrogators wouldn't want us to answer that question. I feel an overwhelming need to self-censor. "We can't really talk about that," I say. Shane Bauer et al.

Examples of self-censorship in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Part 6: Hindu nationalists aligned with the BJP government use mass public pressure and the threat of criminal cases to shape or entirely block films produced by Netflix and Amazon, resulting in a culture of self-censorship. Anant Gupta, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 Scholastic has backtracked on its decision to separate dozens of books focused on race and LGBTQ+ themes into an optional collection for this year’s elementary school book fairs after weeks of criticism from authors, illustrators and library advocates who decried the move as self-censorship. Kim Bellware, Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2023 Russia’s strict laws against disinformation could lead to many AI model creators avoiding sensitive issues in order to protect themselves, creating self-censorship that could limit the model’s growth. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 26 Aug. 2023 Educational intimidation bills do not act as direct censorship, but rather encourage self-censorship from teachers, librarians, and administrators by creating environments where free speech is chilled. Edith Olmsted, The New Republic, 23 Aug. 2023 The government’s reactivity to bad press—which many times, experts say, merely echoes speculations and sentiments on the ground—has given rise to a culture where self-censorship looms over public discourse, where few dare to say what most may be thinking. Time, 2 Aug. 2023 An editor at an online Chinese-language outlet in Singapore admitted to self-censorship — avoiding political topics while pushing messaging that would be favorable to China — to preserve access to the app. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, 24 July 2023 Otherwise known as the Hays Code, the Production Code was an industry standard of self-censorship guidelines for major US studios from 1930 to 1968, when it was replaced by the movie ratings system. Madeline Ashby, WIRED, 17 July 2023 Yet self-censorship started to creep into this group long before the Wagner mutiny, says Stepanenko. WIRED, 29 June 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1845, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of self-censorship was in 1845

Dictionary Entries Near self-censorship

Cite this Entry

“Self-censorship.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on self-censorship

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!