Wed Dec 22 19:52:57 UTC 2004

        It may be that the term began as a legal term, which in large part it continues to be.  It certainly predates the '70s.  Here's an early use from 1957:

        <<Justice Bastow and I agree that feasible means should have been adopted to redact DeGennaro's confession and admissions,--before their introduction into evidence,--so as to restrict their contents to his own inculpations, and thus have avoided any possible prejudice to Lombard.>>

People v. Lombard, 4 A.D.2d 666, 669 n.2, 168 N.Y.S.2d 419, 423 n.2 (N.Y. App. Div. Dec 10, 1957).

        Here's what the leading legal dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004), has to say:

        <<redaction (ri-dak-sh<<schwa>>n), n. 1. The careful editing of a document, esp. to remove confidential references or offensive material. [Cases: Criminal Law 663; Federal Civil Procedure 2011; Trial 39. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 1210-1211; Trial §§ 148-153.] 2. A revised or edited document. -- redactional, adj. -- redact, vb.>>

        I don't think this is the same as censoring, although in some cases both terms might apply.  Here's what Black's says about censor:

        <<censor (sen-s<<schwa>>r), vb. To officially inspect (esp. a book or film) and delete material considered offensive.>>

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Benjamin Zimmer
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 2:30 PM
Subject: Re: REDACTED

The earliest relevant cite on the Nexis database suggests that US
government officials began using "redacted" as a synonym for "censored" in
the '70s:

   Washington Post, Dec 19, 1978, A2
   Prosecutors in the FBI break-ins case mistakenly circulated to
   defense lawyers highly classified material that is only supposed
   to be seen or discussed in a spy-proof vault.
   Attorneys for three former top FBI officials charged in the case
   made the disclosure yesterday in a lively pretrial hearing where
   they protested Justice Department attempts to get the documents
   back for censoring as part of a proposal to place strict limits
   on collecting new information.
   The lawyers voiced special opposition yesterday to a government
   request that they return their clients' grand jury testimony to
   be "redacted" - censored - of material containing "sensitive
   compartmented information (SCI)."

-- Ben Zimmer

More information about the Ads-l mailing list