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See also: Bowdlerize


Alternative forms[edit]


Bowdler +‎ -ize; named after English physician Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825). In 1818 he published a censored version of William Shakespeare (The Family Shakespeare), expurgating “those words and expressions [] which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family.”


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbaʊd.ləˌɹaɪz/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈbaʊd.ləɹˌaɪz/
  • (file)


bowdlerize (third-person singular simple present bowdlerizes, present participle bowdlerizing, simple past and past participle bowdlerized)

  1. To remove or alter those parts of a text considered offensive, vulgar, or otherwise unseemly.
    The bowdlerized version of the novel, while free of vulgarity, was also free of flavor.
    • 1909, H. G. Wells, chapter 1, in Ann Veronica:
      Mr. Stanley decided to treat that as irrelevant. "There ought to be a Censorship of Books." . . .
      Ogilvy pursued his own topic. "I'm inclined to think, Stanley, myself that as a matter of fact it was the expurgated Romeo and Juliet did the mischief. . . . All they left it was the moon and stars. And the balcony and ‘My Romeo!’"
      "Shakespeare is altogether different from the modern stuff. Altogether different. I'm not discussing Shakespeare. I don't want to Bowdlerize Shakespeare."
    • 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, chapter 2, in The Lost World [], London, New York, N.Y.: Hodder and Stoughton, →OCLC:
      "Wadley sent a message: ‘The President of the Zoological Institute presents his compliments to Professor Challenger, and would take it as a personal favor if he would do them the honor to come to their next meeting.’ The answer was unprintable."
      "You don't say?"
      "Well, a bowdlerized version of it would run: ‘Professor Challenger presents his compliments to the President of the Zoological Institute, and would take it as a personal favor if he would go to the devil.’"
    • 1961, J. A. Philip, “Mimesis in the Sophistês of Plato,”, in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, volume 92, page 455:
      His critics take alarm only when it becomes apparent that he would bowdlerize Homer and exclude from his state the great tragedians.
    • 2014 January 7, Market Chipping, “Why you should read the Madicken (Mardie) books”, in Market Chipping (blog), retrieved 8 March 2016:
      Let me tell you about Madicken. (Mardie in English. Or Meg, but that’s in the American translation and that’s bowdlerized and you should never read it.)

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