Let's say you have a play that makes a bunch of short jokes. Someone goes to remove the short jokes so as to make it more acceptable to modern audiences. What is this called? (Generally, a word that means removing the parts of a work that are unacceptable by modern standards.)

I know that it would fall under censorship, but I need a word specific to this situation (censorship is too broad).

  • 7
    Well, "bowdlerizing" comes to mind.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 6, 2015 at 17:41
  • @HotLicks Yep, that's a correct answer. Would you happen to know any words with better connotation (euphemisms)? Nov 6, 2015 at 17:45
  • 3
    Modernizing, updating. Nov 6, 2015 at 17:47
  • 2
    Try "edit", "censor", and "bowdlerize" in a thesaurus and see what you find.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 6, 2015 at 17:51
  • @HotLicks You can make "bowdlerize" an answer if you like. Nov 6, 2015 at 18:05

4 Answers 4


"Revamp" could be considered as it means:

Give new and improved form, structure, or appearance to: ‘an attempt to revamp the museum’s image’

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

To make (something) better or like new again: 'the company has revamped the design of its best-selling car'.



I would suggest modernize as it conveys the idea clearly. Here is the definition from OED (emphasis mine):

trans. To make modern, to bring up to date; to give a modern character or appearance to; to adapt to modern needs or habits; (sometimes) spec.

(a) to rewrite (an old text) in modern spelling or language; to change (obsolete spelling, words, or language) for modern equivalents;

(b) to remodel and refashion (an old building) in a modern style; to provide (a house, business, etc.) with modern conveniences or equipment.

Wikipedia has an article titled List of modernized adaptations of old works.


You may use redact:

  • Literary & Literary Critical Terms): to put (a literary work, etc) into appropriate form for publication; edit.

also adapt:

  • (tr) to fit, change, or modify to suit a new or different purpose:

    • to adapt a play for use in schools.

The Free Dictionary

List of modernised adaptations of old works. (Wikipedia)


Consider revise. It's a bit more general as it covers insertions as well as deletions, but could work too:

To prepare a newly edited version of (a text).

(American Heritage Dictionary)

For example, a late 19th-century translation of the Bible is called The Revised Version (or English Revised Version).

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