What Does Censure Someone Mean?

Censure Someone Meaning

Definition: To formally disapprove of someone for doing something.

This phrase is usually found in the context of government and governing bodies. Politicians who break the law or do something out of protocol can be censured.

Origin of Censure Someone

The word censure comes from the Latin censura, which means judgment or assessment.

Examples of Censure Someone

Define censure someoneIn this conversation, two high school students are talking about a controversy over their school principal.

Lisa: Did you hear what the principal did?

Jackie: Yeah. I heard that he caught one of the accountants stealing money. Also, he didn’t report it to the authorities. I’m not sure if that’s true or not.

Lisa: Apparently, it is true. The police have arrested the accountant, and the school district has publicly censured the principal for his inaction.

Jackie: Is he going to lose his job?

Lisa: I’m not sure, but he hasn’t yet. Students’ parents are pretty angry about it.

Definition of censure someoneIn the dialogue below, two friends discuss a third friend that they work with. They are worried about him.

Seth: Horatio is in some type of trouble. Do you know anything about it? 

Jimmy: Yeah. Everyone at the office was talking about it. The boss censured him for messing up the Johnson account. 

Seth: Oh, no. I wish there was something we could do to help. 

More Examples

In this excerpt, one man wants to censure another. The other man used his professional position to hire his friends and family, which is not allowed.

  • For the second time in two weeks, a member of the Gateway school board has made a motion to formally censure fellow board member Chad Stubenbort. –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The second news excerpt is about city officials that disapprove of a particular alderman. This is because this alderman stole from a store.

  • Other city officials did not discover the first charge until two years after it happened, but the City Council still chose to censure her for that first charge. After she was charged a second time, pressure ramped up from fellow council members, as well as the public, for her to resign. –Chicago Tribune

Grammar and Usage

Censure is a transitive verb, which means a direct object follows it. When there is an indirect object, it follows the preposition for. It is not possible to use this verb without an object.

  • Correct: He censured his employee.
  • Correct: He censured his employee for the mistake.
  • Incorrect: He censured.


To censure someone for something means to issue a formal statement of disapproval.