Word a Day

Word a Day: Bowdlerize

I’m a fan of speaking intelligently, and even eloquently. However, I often run into people who say something along the lines of, “Why people usin’ them big ol’ fancy words and whatnot?” The Word a Day project is where I attempt to do my part in eradicating that sort of mindset, in hopes that we can all grow our vocabularies and learn to express ourselves in more diverse and meaningful ways. Some of these are words I knew before starting this project, some are not. Let’s learn together.

Bowdlerize -remove material that is considered improper or offensive from (a text or account), especially with the result that it becomes weaker or less effective.

verb: bowdlerize
3rd person present: bowdlerizes
past tense: bowdlerized
pas participle: bowdlerized
gerund or present participle: bowdlerizing

We can cry, “CENSORSHIP!” all we want, but the fact of the matter is if everyone went around saying exactly what they were thinking, then we’d have a lot more murder on our hands. Go on, you can admit it—someone has said something to you before that made you want to place your hands around their gender non-specific neck and squeeze like a lemon in hopes of getting some of that sweet sweet nectar. (That analogy got a bit weird. I’m craving lemonade.) My point is, it’s good that we allow censorship in some ways, if only so we can be snooty and use words like today’s Word a Day: bowdlerize.

To bowdlerize means to strike an idea or concept from either a text or speech so that it is to be rendered a little less offensive, demeaning, or powerful. We bowdlerize ourselves every day when we hold back some of the things our psychotic brains want to make us say. Sometimes we want to bowdlerize other people so hard for how silly they might sound. I’m not advocating that we tiptoe around each other as if the floor were lava and you could only step in a few places. However, using a bit of restraint might be useful, if only so you don’t get bowdlerized.

Can you use it in a sentence, please?

“Allow me to bowdlerize what you’re saying here, because you probably shouldn’t be talking anyway.”

Do people actually use this word anymore?


There was a definite uptick in the use of this word a few decades ago, but that probably had more to do with Big Government trying to hold down the hippie movement, man.


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