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or (especially British) bowdlerise

[bohd-luh-rahyz, boud-] /ˈboʊd ləˌraɪz, ˈbaʊd-/
verb (used with object), bowdlerized, bowdlerizing.
to expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.
Origin of bowdlerize
1830-40; after Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), English editor of an expurgated edition of Shakespeare
Related forms
bowdlerism, noun
bowdlerization, noun
bowdlerizer, noun
unbowdlerized, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bowdlerize
Historical Examples
  • She should not be allowed to disguise and bowdlerize it to suit the unwelcome tastes she had acquired at school.

    Joanna Godden Sheila Kaye-Smith
  • I have no wish to bowdlerize Sir Richard Steele, his ways and words.

    Essays Alice Meynell
  • This is called "expurgating" the book; but people who disapprove often call it to bowdlerize.

    Stories That Words Tell Us Elizabeth O'Neill
British Dictionary definitions for bowdlerize


(transitive) to remove passages or words regarded as indecent from (a play, novel, etc); expurgate
Derived Forms
bowdlerization, bowdlerisation, noun
bowdlerizer, bowdleriser, noun
bowdlerism, noun
Word Origin
C19: after Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825), English editor who published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bowdlerize

1836, from Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), English editor who in 1818 published a notorious expurgated Shakespeare, in which, according to his frontispiece, "nothing is added to the original text; but those words and expressions omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family." Related: Bowdlerized; bowdlerizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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