To bowdlerize means to edit offensive parts out of something. If the hero in an R-rated movie adapted for TV exclaims, “Oh shoot fudge darn!” but his lips seem to be saying something else, that movie has been bowdlerized.

The word bowdlerized comes from the name of Dr. T. Bowdler, who decided to publish an edition of Shakespeare without sexual references or double-entendres (which is when a word has two meanings, one of them cheeky). Mr. Bowdler thought he was performing a great service for humanity, but generally if we call something bowdlerized, we’re implying that it was edited in a prudish way.

Definitions of bowdlerize

v edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate

bowdlerize a novel”
bowdlerise, castrate, expurgate, shorten
Type of:
abbreviate, abridge, contract, cut, foreshorten, reduce, shorten
reduce in scope while retaining essential elements

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