Printable Version
Pronunciation: sen-sor-ri-ês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Given to censure, faultfinding, hypercritical. 2. (Archaic) Befitting a censor.

Notes: English speakers have had a hard time trying to keep separate the adjectives for these nouns: censor, censure, and census. The are currently the following:
   censor     censorial
   censure   censorious
   census    censual
Today's Good Word originally went with censor, but the confusion here led to its misplacement with censure.

In Play: Remember, this adjective now is attached to censure: "In a censorious world, a woman as chaste as the driven snow will be unable to escape calumny." This adjective now defines people who are uptight: "Preston Starch was so censorious that he deplored women wearing shorts."

Word History: The three nouns that have troubled English speakers share the same source. So, let's choose censor since it underlies censorious. English just extended by one vowel Latin censorius "pertaining to a censor", hence "rigid, severe". Latin built its word on PIE k'ens-/k'ons- "to proclaim solemnly, announce", source also of Sanskrit samsayati "recites" and Old Bulgarian sęt" "say", where [ę] is a nasalized vowel that replaced [en]. No other evidence can be found in the Indo-European languages. (Now a note of gratitude to wordmaster George Kovac, a prolific habitué of the Agora, for noticing the problem with today's Good Word and bringing it to our attention.)

Dr. Goodword,

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