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A c. 1860s photographic portrait by Augustin Rischgitz of the English author Charles Dickens, from whose surname the word Dickensian is derived.

From Dickens, the surname of Charles Dickens (1812–1870) +‎ -ian (suffix forming adjectives or nouns meaning ‘belonging to, relating to, or like’).[1]



Dickensian (comparative more Dickensian, superlative most Dickensian)

  1. Of, pertaining to, or created by the English author Charles Dickens.
  2. Similar to Dickens' writing style, especially in commenting on society, or in using emotion, humour, or rich descriptions.
    Synonyms: Dickenesque, Dickensesque, Dickensish, Dickens-like, Dickensy
  3. Reminiscent of the environments and situations most commonly portrayed in Dickens' writings, such as poverty, social injustice, and other aspects of Victorian England.
    Synonyms: Dickenesque, Dickensesque, Dickensish, Dickens-like, Dickensy
    • 1988, Cecil D. Eby, “Playing the Game”, in The Road to Armageddon: The Martial Spirit in English Popular Literature 1870–1914, Durham, N.C.; London: Duke University Press, →ISBN, page 89:
      As though in expiation of their sires' wealth, schoolboys often had to live in conditions that would have disgraced a Dickensian workhouse.
    • 1993, William Sloane Coffin, “A Vision of the Future”, in A Passion for the Possible: A Message to U.S. Churches, Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, →ISBN, page 10:
      As earlier implied, the planet is threatened on three major fronts: [] (3) by a Dickensian world of wretched excess and wretched despair.
    • 2001 February, Tim Moore, “Prologue”, in Frost on My Moustache: The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer, New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Griffin, St. Martin’s Press, →ISBN, page 2:
      Down in the subway under the roundabout the looming social ordeal started to weigh down on me, [] By the time I pressed a huge and over-polished brass bell I'd devolved into a shifty-eyed, cinder-cheeked Dickensian urchin, and when the door opened I half expected to see Mrs Bridges throw up her fat, floury hands and scream for the cook's boy.
    • 2008 September 15, Alan Wheatley, “China getting higher marks for tackling piracy”, in Reuters[1], archived from the original on 23 April 2010:
      Leaning against piracy fits in with China's desire to cast off its image of a country where exploited workers toil for a pittance in Dickensian factories that turn the air and water black with the pollution they discharge.

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Dickensian (plural Dickensians)

  1. A person who admires or studies the works of Charles Dickens.
    Synonym: (archaic) Dickensite



  1. ^ Dickensian, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2019; “Dickensian, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

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