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Definition: A container in which incense is burned.

Pronunciation: Sen-sir


Mid 13th century – from Old French censier – a shortened form of encensier  – itself stemming from censier, meaning ‘incense’.

Why This Word:

A homophone is an example of words that have the same sound – but that are spelled differently and have different meanings, think of ‘to’ and ‘two’, for example. Censer is a homophone of ‘censor’ – meaning to restrict or to change based on an objection (e.g., for decency or for privacy). What intrigues me about ‘censer’ and ‘censor’ is that, although technically homophones, there is a small element of similarity. Both are designed to mask a truth of sorts and both are designed to do so by putting up a smokescreen…

How to use this word:

Sadly, censer is one that will probably never see a revival and will continue to be used only in sub communities with a penchant for issues pertaining to religious olfaction…

However – there is one other group that uses incense on a level similar to that of established religions: teenagers. Thus, it is up to the teenagers themselves if they want to try and take this word ‘back’ and begin to use it themselves. One wonders, however, if such a move would be genuine or simply just ensensier


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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