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I apologize for such a simple and stupid question but the word is completely skipping my mind and my google fu seems to be failing me for this one.

An example would be something along the lines of shit to poop or fuck to fudge.

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Perhaps you are thinking of the word euphemism, which has senses “The use of a word or phrase to replace another with one that is considered less offensive, blunt or vulgar than the word or phrase it replaces” and “A word or phrase that is used to replace another in this way.”

Some words that are related to the topic (but probably don't quite fit the context of the question) are bowdlerize (“To remove or alter those parts of a text considered offensive, vulgar, or otherwise unseemly”), gentrify (“to renovate something, especially housing, to make it more appealing to the middle classes”), and expurgate (“To edit out rude, incorrect, offensive, useless, or otherwise undesirable information from a book, CD or other publication; to cleanse; to purge”).

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  • The phenomenon is akin to the use of "minced oaths" like "gosh," "golly," "gee," "heck," "gadzooks" (all substitutes for God, hell, God's hooks--Christ's nails). – rhetorician Jun 6 '13 at 12:05
  • I like @rhetorician's "minced oaths" as another good entry to add to this answer. By the way, rhetorician, Are you sure about "God's Hooks"? While I've seen that etymology online, I've also heard "God-Zeus", which sounds more plausible to me. – hackerb9 Oct 31 '19 at 10:05
  • @hackerb9: Yeah, I'm relatively sure. I'm also pretty sure about "Jeepers, Creepers" (i.e., Jesus Christ) and "bejesus," as in "scared the bejesus out of me," although for the life of me I don't know what it means or how one goes about scaring Jesus out of a person! – rhetorician Oct 31 '19 at 20:22
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I think moderate is the most apt term here as it essentially means what you are asking for. Censor is another word, but is more about hiding words than "moderating" them.

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