Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Dec 29 07:43:10 UTC 2004

It seems to me that the most pronounced novelty in recent use of "redact"
is being ignored to some degree.

"Redact" historically means virtually exactly "edit" AFAIK. So if an editor
alters a paper by deleting the entirety of its fourteenth paragraph it is
conventional to say that the paper was edited, or that the paper was
redacted. But I don't think it's conventional in such a case (until
recently) to say that the fourteenth paragraph was redacted [or edited];
the fourteenth paragraph would conventionally be said to be deleted,
removed, expunged, etc., even edited *out* ... but not just edited or
redacted or altered (it's gone!).

Nowadays one sees "redact" applied specifically to the deleted material
itself, so that "redact" not only has become specialized to "edit by
deletions" (and after all most editing is more by deletions than otherwise)
but has drifted away to the extent that it has come to mean "delete
entirely", which is generally not within the range of unadorned "edit" or
of traditional "redact": "I edited/redacted your paper" would not
traditionally be used for "I deleted your whole paper", and "I edited the
fourteenth paragraph" would not be the way to express "I removed the
fourteenth paragraph entirely".

Or maybe I'm missing something?

-- Doug Wilson

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