Censor vs. Censure

I get these two words confused all the time. That's why I'm thrilled to be writing this blog because it forces me to come up with ways to remember these commonly confused words!


Censor is about limiting access to things that are considered objectionable. It is both a noun and a verb - a.k.a., a censor is one who censors things.

Quick caveat: We're not a fan of the WordNet definition for censor. In rare instances, censor can be used to mean censure, but the primary definition and usage of censor is around limiting access. Unfortunately, WordNet (our source for definitions) has the infrequently-used secondary definition listed first.

Censure is about criticizing or condemning people whose actions you disapprove of. It is also both a noun and a verb - a.k.a., a censure is one who censures others.

So how do you remember which is which?

I just try to remember that:

  • You censor THINGS (i.e., the media, books in the library, content on the website)

  • You censure PEOPLE (i.e., church censured the priest, activist censured the politician). It helps that censUre has a U in it - U can censure people or U can be censured by people - so just look for the U!

That's the best I could come up with. If you have your own way of keeping these two straight in your head, please do let us know via Facebook!

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Photo Credit: harmonica pete, Lara604