Censorship Word Definitions

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I subscribe to word a day from wordsmith and a week was dedicated to words associated with censorship of books. In honor of Banned Books Week, I thought it would fun to highlight words you may not be familiar with that are associated with censorship.

Comstockery (noun):

Overzealous censorship of material considered obscene

The word was created after Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. He crusaded against anything he considered immoral.

Imprimatur (noun):

1. Approval or authority; imprint.
2. A license to print or publish, especially one issued by a censor of the Roman Catholic Church.

Bowdlerize (verb):

To remove or change parts (of a book, play, movie, etc.) considered objectionable.

After Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), a British doctor, who edited the Family Shakespeare, an expurgated edition of William Shakespeare’s works. Bowdler believed the original wasn’t suitable for the delicate sensibilities of women and children.

Nihil obstat (noun):

1. Official approval.
2. In the Roman Catholic Church, a statement by a church censor that a book is not offensive to the Church.

Grangerize (verb):

1. To mutilate a book by clipping pictures out of it.
2. To illustrate a book by adding pictures cut from other books.

Samizdat (noun):

An underground publishing system used to print and circulate banned literature clandestinely.

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