[ bohd-luh-rahyz, boud- ]
/ ˈboʊd ləˌraɪz, ˈbaʊd- /

verb (used with object), bowd·ler·ized, bowd·ler·iz·ing.

to expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.


Nearby words

  1. bow-iron,
  2. bow-wow,
  3. bowditch,
  4. bowditch's law,
  5. bowditch, nathaniel,
  6. bowdlerizing,
  7. bowed,
  8. bowel,
  9. bowel bypass,
  10. bowel bypass syndrome

Also especially British, bowd·ler·ise.

Origin of bowdlerize

1830–40; after Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825), English editor of an expurgated edition of Shakespeare

Related formsbowd·ler·ism, nounbowd·ler·i·za·tion, nounbowd·ler·iz·er, nounun·bowd·ler·ized, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for bowdlerizing



/ (ˈbaʊdləˌraɪz) /


(tr) to remove passages or words regarded as indecent from (a play, novel, etc); expurgate
Derived Formsbowdlerization or bowdlerisation, nounbowdlerizer or bowdleriser, nounbowdlerism, noun

Word Origin for bowdlerize

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

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

Culture definitions for 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.