Breaking down the origins of the word censorship


New Member
English - Canadian
I have been looking in OED for a history that makes sense, yet, I just find crumbs, and I can not piece the history of this term. I am hitting a dead end researching the greek term to censor, named λογοκρίνω

According to Oxford English Dictionary the word censure, n., is first documented in use in
138. Wyclif Sel. Wks. III. 361 Censures þat þe fend blowiþ, as ben suspendingis, enterditingis, cursingis, and reisingis of croiserie. Back then it was defined as ‘A spiritual punishment inflicted by some ecclesiastical judge.’ Ayliffe. (The earliest recorded sense.)
A Roman censor, formerly just called a censor was The title of two magistrates in ancient Rome, who drew up the register or census of the citizens, etc., and had the supervision of public morals.
In the same entry as censure, definition 5 explores, the concept further.
5. Censorship; the office or action of a censor.

a. Of the ancient Roman censors (= Latin censūra): also concrete (obsolete).

See Screenshots of the OED entries for all the details, and referenced material.

Entry on censure
Entry on censor
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  • berndf

    German (Germany)
    I am not sure what your question is. You stated about everything, except the etymology within Latin. Censor is an actor noun derived from the verb censeo = I think, I opine, I value, I judge or I assess. So, a censor is someone who passes judgement or who does assessments. The abstract noun censura is what a censor does or the office of a censor. As you quoted above, censor was an important official of the Roman Republic. He performed the Census, the registering of the people (a term still in use). Part of the responsibility of the censor during the census was to establish the legal and social status of each person. He was also responsible for upholding public morality and had the power to demote a person in social rank for unbecoming behaviour.


    Senior Member
    I tried to find the origins of the greek λογοκρισία, which is more accurate than "censorship". It is a new greek word (not classical), but i couldn't find its origin. It can be found in a 1923 book on constitutional law.
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