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Censor, Sensor, and Censure

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between censor, sensor, and censure?

To censor means to forbid.
A sensor is a detector.
Censure is displeasure.

Censor, Sensor, Censure

Writers sometimes confuse censor and sensor. Even though they sound identical, their meanings are quite different (i.e., they're homonyms). As censure sounds similar, we've included it on this page, but errors involving censure are far rarer than with censor and sensor.

Censor

The verb to censor means to forbid public distribution of something (usually a film or a newspaper).

Example:
  • How did that statement end up on the streets? I censored the article myself.

Sensor

The noun sensor denotes a detector of a stimulus (such as heat, light, motion, pressure).

Example:
  • An infrared sensor designed to detect movement triggered the roadside bomb.

Censure

The noun censure denotes a formal rebuke or official displeasure.

Example:
  • He has received two letters of censure from the commandant.
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