Vocabulary Words from Orwell's '1984'

Words and Phrases from George Orwell's Controversial Dystopian Novel

1984 by George Orwell
Signet Classics

George Orwell's 1984  tells of a dystopian future where the totalitarian government (called the Party) seeks to control not only language, but thought as well. Orwell created a whole new set of language rules with his "Newspeak" in 1984, showing how by reducing the ability to express oneself creatively, the Party could control how people spoke, and ultimately, know their thoughts. Instead of "very good" instead one using Newspeak would say "plusgood" and "doubleplusgood." Orwell was particularly interested in nuances in language, and bemoaned what he viewed as  the loss of critical thinking and metaphor.

1984 - Terms and Vocabulary

Here's a list of some unusual vocabulary words from 1984, by George Orwell. Use these terms for reference, study, and discussion.

inscrutable: of an obscure nature

discountenanced: embarrassed

gamboling: playing boisterously or loudly

multifarious: having many aspects

venerate: regard with feelings of respect and reverence

aquiline: curved down, as an eagle's beak

stratum: layers of material or divisions, or social classes in society

palimpsest: a manuscript on which more than one text has been written

fulminate: cause to explode violently and with loud noise

anodyne: capable of relieving pain

sinecure: an office that involves minimal duties

niggling: petty, trivial

proletarian: belonging to or characteristic of the working class

wainscoting: decorative paneling or woodwork

fecundity: fertility, or cleverness (as in a fertile imagination)

spurious: not genuine, inauthentic

oligarchy: a form of government in which all power is in a few people or a dominant class

truncheon: a club carried by a law enforcement officer

forlorn: unhappy or miserable, hopeless

More 1984 Resources

On 1984:Orwell Review