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Title: Expurgation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Censorship, Ad usum Delphini, Words and Music (1948 film), Pass the Dutchie, Blazing Dragons
Collection: Censorship
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Thomas Bowdler's famous reworked edition of William Shakespeare's plays. 1818

Expurgation is a form of censorship which involves purging anything deemed noxious or offensive, usually from an artistic work.

Bowdlerization is a pejorative term for the practice, particularly the expurgation of lewd material from books. The term derives from Thomas Bowdler's 1818 edition of William Shakespeare's plays, which he reworked in order to make them more suitable, in his opinion, for women and children.[1] He similarly edited Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

A fig-leaf edition is such a bowdlerized text, deriving from the practice of covering the genitals of nudes in classical and Renaissance statues and paintings with fig leaves.


  • Examples 1
    • Religious 1.1
    • Sexual 1.2
    • Racist 1.3
    • Cursing 1.4
    • Political 1.5
  • See also 2
  • References 3




  • "The Crabfish", an English folk song with ribald lyrics,[3] has had sanitized versions released in which the lobster grabs the wife by the nose[4] or where the actual wounds are only implied by the rhyme.[5]
  • The 1925 [6]
  • A Boston-area ban on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! – owing to a short motel sex scene – prompted the author to assemble a 150 copy fig-leaf edition with the nine offending pages blacked out as a publicity stunt.[7][8]



  • Many Internet message boards and forums use automatic wordfiltering to block offensive words and phrases from being published or automatically amend them to more innocuous substitutes such as asterisks or nonsense. This often catches innocent words also: see Scunthorpe problem.


  • Chinese internet filters – the Great Firewall – also work to block politically-sensitive terms and characters from being published on most public sites or loaded by domestic ISPs.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Crayfish".
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
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