General English

  • noun the action to prevent books or newspapers from being published or remove parts of them.

Information & Library Science

  • noun prohibition of the production, distribution or sale of items considered to be objectionable on political, religious or moral grounds


  • noun the act of restricting or editing material that is published, e.g. because it is potentially offensive

Media Studies

  • noun the practice of deciding that something or part of something may not be broadcast, published, distributed etc., because of its content.
  • noun the suppression or attempted suppression of anything regarded as objectionable


  • For most of its history the theater has been subjected to statecensorship for political, religious, or moral reasons.

    In Britain control of both plays and theaters was exertedthrough licensing (see licence) until the TheatresAct of 1968. This system was controlled from 1494 - 1737 by theMaster of the Revels and subsequently by the Lord Chamberlain.Even in the 20th century, the heavy hand of the censor denied Britishaudiences the chance to see works by Shaw, Ibsen, O'Neill, and Bond.

    The lowest point in English theatrical history was the PuritanInterregnum (1642 - 60), during which all the theaterswere closed. After the licence of the Restoration period a new eraof timidity was ushered in by Jeremy Collier's A ShortView of the Immorality and Prophaneness of the English Stage (1698).

    Although America has never had an office of national censorshipor any legislation dealing specifically with drama, the state andlocal police are empowered to act on complaints about obscenity underlaws covering literary works. The tradition of burlesquewas eventually killed by repeated police raids after stripteasebegan to dominate the fare.

    The Russian theater has a long history of suppression, censorshipbeing particularly heavy during the reigns of Catherine II (1762 - 96)and Alexander I (1801 - 25) as well as under the Soviet regime.Leading theatrical figures to perish during the Stalinist terror includedV. E. Meyerhold.