Definition of censor in US English:



  • 1An official who examines material that is about to be released, such as books, movies, news, and art, and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

    • ‘When you upset the censors with your films, as you often did, were you trying to push buttons consciously or was it something that was organic, something that was just there in your work?’
    • ‘Kelleher was appointed official film censor in 2003 and today he divides his time between Dublin and west Cork, where he lives with his wife and two children.’
    • ‘Well, thank you very much, but I don't really want to see images like the ones described anyway, therefore in these circumstances the film censors are right.’
    • ‘In late 17th century England, people had to get the permission of censors before publishing books.’
    • ‘In this case, the higher powers are film censors, whether philistine Senators or the timorous, arbitrary ethicists of the MPAA, valiantly guarding us from ourselves.’
    • ‘What enraged and confused the censors was the film's approach to that strange netherworld between dreaming and waking states, in which so much unusual activity transpires.’
    • ‘In The New Yorker, she actually called these six hours of chic ‘fearless,’ as if the film had defied the censors of a police state.’
    • ‘It has caused widespread global controversy, stretching from Catholic groups in Europe and America, to a number of states in India that have also banned the film despite federal censors clearing it for release.’
    • ‘If you're thinking of going to the cinema this weekend, the film censors have been busy trying to help you to decide what to watch.’
    • ‘Films that came from Europe were often subjected to the vagaries of individual distributor taste, tastes too often linked to assessments of what might and might not be passed by the film censors.’
    • ‘We were sure that the film would pass the censors because the scenes were in line with the story.’
    • ‘As a serious cinematic dramatisation of an event that goes to the core of belief of many people in Ireland, this film will have a particular resonance and is likely to be of interest to a wide audience, the film censor's office stated.’
    • ‘Such sentiments of animosity towards the church, the teaching establishment and tradition were excuse enough for the censors to ban the film in its entirety.’
    • ‘This necessarily involves engaging with the issues in which Mr Cousins seemingly has no interest: production trends, the size and social composition of cinema audiences and the policies of film censors.’
    • ‘Avary remains unrepentant, however, despite having to send the film back to the censors four times.’
    • ‘Because if the truth were to be told by the movies, they would only cut out the long hair, but they would add a whole lot of things they keep out because the film censors make them.’
    • ‘He mentions in his audio commentary that the vampire's death groans were long lost, cut by censors during the film's original theatrical run.’
    • ‘We had military censors, not to suppress bad news but to keep damaging news from the enemy.’
    • ‘Warren Beatty, then attending the festival with Bonnie and Clyde, expressed his praise for the film and condemned the censors.’
    • ‘During this period, the Ontario Board of Censors was known to be the most liberal of all the provincial boards, and O.J. Silverthorne was the most respected film censor in Canada.’
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    1. 1.1Psychoanalysis An aspect of the superego which is said to prevent certain ideas and memories from emerging into consciousness.
      • ‘The superego, originating in the child through an identification with parents, and in response to social pressures, functions as an internal censor to repress the urges of the id.’
      • ‘Moreover, if dreams were all expressions of repressed infantile impulses, which found an indirect way past the censor, one would expect that the proportion of sleep spent in dreaming would increase with age.’
      • ‘The goal of Freudian dream interpretation is to undo the work of the censor.’
  • 2(in ancient Rome) either of two magistrates who held censuses and supervised public morals.

    • ‘In most cases, a censor and a chiliarch or centurion from the Imperial Guard were ordered to jointly oversee campaigns to apprehend brigands.’
    • ‘Though everyone knew Carthaginian figs were a successful transplant to Italy; Cato the censor grew them in his garden’
    • ‘The magistracy continued to be controlled by patricians until 351 BC, when Gaius Marcius Rutilus was appointed the first plebeian censor.’


[with object]
  • Examine (a book, movie, etc.) officially and suppress unacceptable parts of it.

    ‘my mail was being censored’
    • ‘Newspapers will often take the easy route of censoring a cartoonist rather than risk the bad publicity of protesters at their front door.’
    • ‘At the moment, the FCC reviews programmes only after it receives a complaint, imposing fines or censoring presenters after the event.’
    • ‘The Pentagon has censored sections of the book, mainly blacking out individuals' names.’
    • ‘I don't edit or censor material to suit my purposes, ever.’
    • ‘It was not only the Roman Catholic book market that was censored in Protestant England.’
    • ‘A movie is good, I think, when the censor does not understand what should be censored.’
    • ‘Films are censored for a number of reasons: sex, violence or bad language.’
    • ‘Because these wishes are unacceptable and potentially disturbing, they are censored and disguised.’
    • ‘As long as the State censors films, a handful of individuals, acting on behalf of the State, will be seeing and deciding what we can see.’
    • ‘His books and articles were often refused or censored by publishers and editors.’
    • ‘Despite these flaws, Kohl does not recommend censoring the books.’
    • ‘In most accounts, the story of how The Man with the Golden Arm was censored is a simple one.’
    • ‘Her film has been censored a lot in Lebanon, even our film has been censored.’
    • ‘Please do a better job of censoring your material for the sake of those warfighters and their families.’
    • ‘I mean I've been censored more in the United States than I've been censored anywhere.’
    • ‘He was a rebellious writer whose books were censored for years, and that in itself was meaningful for me.’
    • ‘The works of Trotsky and his co-thinkers had been censored and suppressed for decades.’
    • ‘The Esquire Theatre, on the other hand, is guilty of censoring the work of an artist, no matter how poor that work might actually be.’
    • ‘An examination into national security should certainly not be censored.’
    • ‘If the system had been in place all Stewart's mail would have been censored.’
    cut, delete, delete parts of, redact, make cuts in, blue-pencil, unpublish
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Both censor and censure are used as both verbs and nouns, but censor means ‘scrutinize, revise, or cut unacceptable parts from (a book, movie, etc.)’ or ‘a person who does this,’ while censure means ‘criticize harshly’ or ‘harsh criticism’: the inmates received their mail only after prison officials had censored all the contents; some senators considered a resolution of censure to express strong disapproval of the president's behavior


Mid 16th century (in censor (sense 2 of the noun)): from Latin, from censere ‘assess’.