During World War I, cable censors would sometimes change a word here and there in a telegram, preserving the meaning but hoping to interfere with any enemy codes the messages might contain.
‘Father is dead,’ ran a cablegram from Sweden to New York which passed through the British censorship.
For some inexplicable reason the censor didn’t like the word ‘dead.’ He changed it to ‘deceased.’
Within a short time this question, sent from New York to Sweden, passed through the hands of the same censor: ‘Is father dead or deceased?’
“What did that word ‘dead’ mean? It might have covered a whole volume of enemy news; it might have provoked a disaster on land or sea. And yet the censor had no better reason for cutting it out than a certain ‘hunch’ which came over him that the word ought to be changed.”
(“Our Dear Friend, the Censor,” American Printer, June 5, 1917.)