Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Censure


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is censure. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

To censure someone is to formally criticize or reprimand them for an act or failure, especially from a position of authority.

// He was censured by the committee for his failure to report the problem.

CENSURE in Context

“Aware of recent occurrences in Deltona, whose City Commission censured one of its members for naming a private citizen and posting insults and vulgar comments about him on social media, [Mayor Gary] Blair said Orange City should declare such behavior out of bounds.” — Al Everson, The West Volusia Beacon (DeLand, Florida), 9 Mar. 2023

Did You Know?

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.

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