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From the title of George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Compare Orwellian.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌnʌɪntiːnˌeɪtiˈfɔː/


1984 (uncountable)

  1. A totalitarian or dystopic society, especially when characterised by intense surveillance of its citizens. Also used attributively. [from 20th c.]
    • 1954, Time, 28 Jun 1954:
      Many a thoughtful man, musing over his second Martini and the evening paper, has had the uneasy feeling that 1984 was much closer.
    • 2007, The Guardian, 15 Jan 2007:
      Yet these proposals are already being presented by the Conservatives - and many on the left - as yet another step into 1984, part of a proto-tyrannical package ranging from CCTV cameras to Asbos to the DNA database that they cite as evidence Britain is sleepwalking into a surveillance society.
    • 2010, Peter Dale Scott, quoted in David Ray Griffin, Cognitive Infiltration:
      Those who seek to prevent 2010 from becoming 1984 will want to arm themselves with this valuable book.

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