To expurgate writing by removing supposedly indelicate material.
However, as the old admiral, Lord Charles Beresford, said to my maternal grandfather - I bowdlerise the quotation determinedly for your Lordships - if my aunt had been differently fashioned, she would have been my uncle!
Viscount Cranborne, Lords Hansard, 27 November 2000. Lords Hansard
The cable channel arranged for alternative versions of the most foul-mouthed, violent or sexual scenes to be filmed to make the series easier to bowdlerise.
Julian Borger, The Guardian, 2 February 2005. Guardian
We have been laughing for some time now at the figure of Thomas Bowdler, the man who gave us a new word ('Bowdlerise') when in 1818 he produced an edition of Shakespeare with all the dirty bits edited out.
Nowadays it has become the custom, at any rate with the BBC, to put dirty bits in rather than take them out.
The translation, by Elizabeth D. Crawford, is felicitous and true to the original, in which the young girl cuts off her finger to use as a key. (Some versions bowdlerize this typically Grimm bit and have the girl substitute a drumstick or a piece of wood for the lost key.)
Michele Slung, The New York Times, 26 April 1981, New York Times
reviewing Lisbeth Zwerger's illustrated version of The Brothers Grimm story, The Seven Ravens. Amazon