Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 24, 2020 is:

bowdlerize • BOHD-ler-ize  • verb

1 literature : to expurgate (something, such as a book) by omitting or modifying parts considered vulgar

2 : to modify by abridging, simplifying, or distorting in style or content


“Certainly, there’s no risk that all art will be bowdlerized into nice stories about people saving puppies, but it’s not wrong to note a fading appetite for antiheroes and bad behavior.” — Jonah E. Bromwich, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2020

“Under his rule, career scientists are barred from speaking at conferences, websites are bowdlerized, and the respected National Climate Assessment is threatened by political appointees who want to soften its most dire conclusions.” — Renée Loth, The Boston Globe, 25 Nov. 2019

Did you know?

Few editors have achieved the notoriety of Thomas Bowdler. He was trained as a physician, but when illness prevented him from practicing medicine, he turned to warning Europeans about unsanitary conditions at French watering places. Bowdler then carried his quest for purification to literature, and in 1818 he published his Family Shakspeare [sic], a work in which he promised that “those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family.” The sanitized volume was popular with the public of the day, but literary critics denounced his modifications of the words of the Bard. Bowdler applied his literary eraser broadly, and within 11 years of his death in 1825 the word bowdlerize was being used to refer to expurgating books or other texts.

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