I occassionally find myself having to explain to people what censorship is.
So, for easy reference I've compiled a number of definitions from authoritative sources.
Please feel free to link and share as needed:
Oxford World Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press)
Censorship: System whereby a government-appointed body or official
claims the right to protect the public interest by influencing the
release of any item of mass communication.
The World of Criminal Justice (Facts on File)
Censorship occurs when a government, business, or individual suppresses
speech, writing, art, or any other form of communication.
The New Oxford Companion to Law (Oxford University Press)
Censorship commonly refers to the determination by a public official
that certain material is unsuitable for publication or performance on
grounds such as morality, religion, politics, or national security. The
material may be banned outright or its circulation restricted to those
thought less susceptible to its influence.
Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Political Thought
Censorship: the practice of examining, restricting and prohibiting
public acts, expressions of opinion, and artistic performances.
The Columbia Encyclopedia (Columbia University Press)
Censorship: Official prohibition or restriction of any type of
expression believed to threaten the political, social, or moral order.
It may be imposed by governmental authority, local or national, by a
religious body, or occasionally by a powerful private group. It may be
applied to the mails, speech, the press, the theater, dance, art,
literature, photography, the cinema, radio, television, or computer
networks. Censorship may be either preventive or punitive, according to
whether it is exercised before or after the expression has been made
The Encyclopedia of International Media and Communication (Elsevier Science)
Censorship¦is the act of suppressing or deleting expression that
is considered objectionable on moral, political, religious, military, or
other grounds. The term is applied most often to interference by a
government or an authority in interpersonal or mass
communication. ¦Censorship takes two basic forms: state-imposed and
self-imposed. The first form is forced by a group in power on the
individuals who are subject to the group’s authority. It usually
includes penalties, or their threat, that create a “chilling
effect" prompting individuals to impose censorship on themselves
to avoid punishment.
Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices.
Censorship is the regulation of speech and other forms of expression by
an entrenched authority. Intended as a kind of safeguard for society,
typically to protect norms and values, censorship suppresses what is
considered objectionable from a political, moral, or religious