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[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.
Also, especially British, bowdlerise.
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. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for bowdlerizing


(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 bowdlerizing



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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bowdlerizing in Culture
bowdlerizing [(bohd-luh-reye-zing, bowd-luh-reye-zing)]

Amending a book by removing passages and words deemed obscene or objectionable (see obscenity). The name comes from Thomas Bowdler's 1818 edition of the plays of William Shakespeare, which was amended so that it could “be read aloud in a family.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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