Or·​well·​ian ȯr-ˈwe-lē-ən How to pronounce Orwellian (audio)
: of, relating to, or suggestive of George Orwell or his writings
especially : relating to or suggestive of the dystopian reality depicted in the novel 1984
Privacy advocates … warn that advances in technology and data collection simply make an Orwellian slippery slope even more slippery. Barbara Presley Noble
Some critics view knowledge engineering as a threat, as the vanguard of an Orwellian future in which thinking machines take control. Robert Reinhold
The X-Files and its spooky televised brethren dwell in that political twilight zone where left and right meet and greet—an Orwellian, Kafka-esque alien nation that's populated with suspicious folks who have too much time on their hands and a deep sense that something is horribly, horribly wrong. David Wild
Now despised and feared, the Army has become a virtual occupation force in its own country, compounding what was already an Orwellian nightmare of spies, doublespeak propaganda, curfews, and petty state control of daily life. Clayton Jones
ȯr-ˈwe-lē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce Orwellian (audio)
Orwellianism isn't just about big government; it's about authoritarianism coupled with lies. Gordon Bowker

Examples of Orwellian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Such piecemeal militarization is the defining feature of wartime Putinism, which is repressive but only episodically Orwellian. Michael Kimmage, Foreign Affairs, 13 Mar. 2024 This lies in stark contrast to the usual draconian, Orwellian views on AI; at a high level, CodePath tries to use the technology for genuine good. Steven Aquino, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 The new dictatorship’s Orwellian tactics forced musicians and young people into hiding. Matthew Dursum, SPIN, 20 Nov. 2023 Public perception of the CEO, who was perceived by some as Orwellian and driven by profits over ethics, fell to an all-time low. Ryan Hogg, Fortune, 27 Sep. 2023 In 1983, as an Orwellian 1984 loomed, the American composer, choreographer and dancer Meredith Monk found herself in Berlin. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 2 Sep. 2023 Their concerns over better pay might strike a chord with older stars and starlets, but newer issues of streaming residuals and the intrusion of A.I. might seem Orwellian to Old Hollywood. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 26 July 2023 Despite the technology’s potential for good, of course, there is a clear Orwellian thread in the idea of a future where bad actors can wiretap your brain. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 26 May 2023 Fox News aired allegations by right-wing commentators and politicians that the board was part of an Orwellian effort to control what Americans say and think. Harold Maass, The Week, 11 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Orwellian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1950, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Orwellian was in 1950

Dictionary Entries Near Orwellian

Cite this Entry

“Orwellian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Orwellian. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

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