expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism

Censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. Among the forms that it can take are a stern rebuke by a legislature, a spiritual penalty imposed by a church, and a negative judgment pronounced on a theological proposition.


  • "Censure," says a late ingenious author, "is the tax a man plays for being eminent." It is a folly for an eminent man to think of escaping it, and a weakness to be affected with it. All the illustrious persons of antiquity, and indeed of every age in the world, have passed through this fiery persecution. There is no defense against reproach but obscurity; it is a kind of comitant to greatness, as satires and invectives were an essential part of a Roman triumph.
  • A man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next to escape the censures of the world: if the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise there cannot be a greater satisfaction to an honest mind, than to see those approbations which it gives itself seconded by the applauses of the public: a man is more sure of his conduct, when the verdict which he passes upon his own behaviour is thus warranted and confirmed by the opinion of all that know him.
  • No man can justly censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows another.
  • A man must serve his time to every trade
    Save censure — critics are ready-made.
    • Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, line 63 (1809).
  • The readiest and surest way to get rid of censure, is to correct ourselves.
    • Demosthenes, as quoted in The World's Laconics: Or, The Best Thoughts of the Best Authors (1853) by Everard Berkeley, p. 34.
  • The thing done avails, and not what is said about it. An original sentence, a step forward, is worth more than all the censures.
  • When you have decided that a thing ought to be done, and are doing it, never shun being seen doing it, even though the multitude should be likely to judge the matter amiss. For if you are not acting rightly, shun the act itself; if rightly, however, why fear misplaced censure?
    • Epictetus, Golden Sayings of Epictetus, 172, as translated by Hastings Crossley.
  • Praise from a friend, or censure from a foe,
    Are lost on hearers that our merits know.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book X, line 293. Pope's translation.
  • Be more careful in guarding against censure than against danger; for the wicked may well dread the end of life, but good men should dread ignominy during life. Strive by all means to live in security, but if ever it falls to your lot to face the dangers of battle, seek to preserve your life, but with honour and not with disgrace; for death is the sentence which fate has passed on all mankind, but to die nobly is the special honour with nature has reserved for the good.
  • Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas.
    • Censure pardons the raven, but is visited upon the dove.
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), II, line 63.
  • It is common also to censure some one class of men — the rich or the educated, the manufacturers, the merchants, or the politicians, for example — as if the sin rested solely with them, while it belongs to society at large.
  • The Triumph of Wit is to make your good Nature subdue your Censure; to be quick in seeing Faults, and slow in exposing them. You are to consider, that the invisible thing called a Good Name, is made up of the Breath of Numbers that speak well of you; so that if by a disobliging Word you silence the meanest, the Gale will be less strong which is to bear up your Esteem.
  • No might nor greatness in mortality
    Can censure 'scape; back-wounding calumny
    The whitest virtue strikes. What king so strong,
    Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
  • Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent.
    • Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects from Miscellanies (1711-1726).
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