Sensor and censor are easily confused words.
The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.
Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.
Sensor (pronounced “sihn-sohr”) is a noun. It means a tool using lasers or other tech to scan content.
- At the airport the TSA scans people’s clothing items, luggage, and personal tech devices for explosive or other “banned from flight” materials.
- On automated sliding doors, a sensor responds a person walking up to it to enter or exit a store or other building.
- In some buildings, metal detector gates or other sensors aim to prevent people carrying weapons into a government building, or trying to leave a store with stolen merchandise. Should a person attempt to carry one through the gate, an alarm goes off and security guards respond.
- At a store checkout, a sensor gun reads price barcodes on products as their labels or tags are run across its front panel.
- At the library, borrowed books are scanned by the librarian’s sensor so their records are updated with what books are have been loaned out to which patrons.
Censor (pronounced “sihn-suhrd”) is a verb. It means to block content that is socially deemed illicit or objectionable.
- Some songs on the radio have been censored when making references to marijuana use. In the 1990s, Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” scrobbled “joint.” Back in 1970, Brewer and Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line” was pulled from radio airplay.
- Typically video content is censored from television because it is deemed too violent, sexual, crudely worded, or all of the above for consumption by unsupervised children and teens. Radio stations over the airwaves are censored for language.
- The most censored TV channels in the US are ones that available over the air via an antenna or aerial.
- Home Box Office (HBO) and Showtime are paid subscription cable channels in the USA, they feature films and original content without censoring. Satellite radio from Sirius, which is also a subscription service, is also uncensored.
- Online streaming content is typically not censored at all. Youtube accounts are supposed to be for ages 13 and up, but there are plenty of younger people than that with accounts and channels.
The following story uses both words correctly:
The culture clash came early. Zanna, a foreign exchange student, went to check out Lady Chatterly’s Lover from the library. But the sensor made an odd buzz sound. The librarian told her, “I’m sorry the local school board has censored this book from reading by anyone under 18. It’s been deemed indecent for reading by children. I’m sorry we failed to remove it from the shelf.”
As the library was so quiet, the librarian’s voice seemed that much louder in the room as she shared her disappointment. She tried to help as best she could. “Here. Here is a list of approved books for high school papers.” As Zanna reviewed the list, it was hard not to notice none dealt with mature themes.
She whispered at the librarian,”Why are these books so immature? This is what I would be reading in fourth grade back home and they are old books, too. Nothing was published after 1980.”
The librarian understood her frustration, but didn’t know what to say. Zanna was in a bind. Her reading assignment and paper was due in two days. Zanna just shrugged and used the list to find a new book.
She would be calling her parents about returning home promptly. She wasn’t encouraged by what she was learning about this new culture at all. She at least had a choice to leave. She felt bad for her peers who were growing up in a limited environment and just accepting it as normal.