late 14c., "judicial sentence," originally ecclesiastical, from Latin censura "judgment, opinion," also "office of a censor," from census, past participle of censere "appraise, estimate, assess" (see censor (n.)). The general sense of "a finding of fault and an expression of condemnation" is from c. 1600.
1580s, "to judge, adjudge" (now obsolete); 1590s, "criticize adversely, find fault with and condemn," from censure (n.) or else from French censurer, from censure (n.). Related: Censured; censuring.
Such men are so watchful to censure, that they have seldom much care to look for favourable interpretations of ambiguities, to set the general tenor of life against single failures, or to know how soon any slip of inadvertency has been expiated by sorrow and retractation; but let fly their fulminations, without mercy or prudence, against slight offences or casual temerities, against crimes never committed, or immediately repented. [Johnson, "Life of Sir Thomas Browne," 1756]
updated on November 17, 2022