List of Newspeak words from Orwell’s 1984

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the fictional language Newspeak attempts to influence thought by influencing the expressiveness of the English language.

Still from Michael Radford’s film production of Orwell’s 1984 (Copyright: MGM)

A telescreen from Orwell’s 1984 with the message: “Think in Newspeak”

In keeping with the principles of Newspeak, all of the words listed here serve as both nouns and verbs; thus, crimethink is both the noun meaning “thoughtcrime” and the verb meaning “to commit thoughtcrime”. To form an adjective, one adds the suffix “-ful” (e.g., crimethinkful) and to form an adverb, “-wise” (e.g., crimethinkwise). There are some irregular forms, such as the adjectival forms of MinitrueMinipaxMiniplenty, and Miniluv (Ministry of TruthMinistry of PeaceMinistry of Plenty, and Ministry of Love, respectively – all ministries of the active government in Nineteen Eighty-Four).

To say that something or somebody is the best, Newspeak uses doubleplusgood, while the worst would be doubleplusungood (e.g., “Big Brother is doubleplusgood, Emmanuel Goldstein is doubleplusungood”).

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Bellyfeel

The word bellyfeel means a blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea.

The word likely comes from the idea that any good Oceanian should be able to internalize Party doctrine to the extent that it becomes a gut instinct – a feeling in the belly.

“Consider, for example, such a typical sentence from a Times leading article as “Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc.” The shortest rendering one could make of this in Oldspeak would be: “Those whose ideas were formed before the Revolution cannot have a full emotional understanding of the principles of English Socialism.” But this is not an adequate translation. … Only a person thoroughly grounded in Ingsoc could appreciate the full force of the word bellyfeel, which implied a blind, enthusiastic, and casual acceptance difficult to imagine today.

—Orwell, Appendix to 1984


Blackwhite

Blackwhite is defined as follows:

… this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.

—Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

The word is an example of both Newspeak and doublethink. It represents the active process of rewriting the past, control of the past being a vital aspect of the Party’s control over the present.

The ability to blindly believe anything, regardless of its absurdity, can have different causes: respect for authority, fear, indoctrination, even critical laziness or gullibility. Orwell’s blackwhite refers only to that caused by fear, indoctrination, or repression of one’s individual critical thinking (“to know black is white”), rather than caused by laziness or gullibility. A true Party member could automatically, and without thought, expunge any “incorrect” information and totally replace it with “true” information from the Party. If properly done, there is no memory or recovery of the “incorrect” information that could cause unhappiness to the Party member by committing thoughtcrime. This ability is likened to the total erasure of information only possible in electronic storage.

Crimethink

Crimethink is the Newspeak word for thoughtcrime (thoughts that are unorthodox, or are outside the official government platform), as well as the verb meaning “to commit thoughtcrime”. Goodthink, which is approved by the Party, is the opposite of crimethink.

In the book, Winston Smith, the main character, writes in his diary:

“Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.”


Duckspeak

Duckspeak is a Newspeak term meaning literally to quack like a duck or to speak without thinking. Duckspeak can be either good or “ungood” (bad), depending on who is speaking, and whether what they are saying is in following with the ideals of Big Brother. To speak rubbish and lies may be ungood, but to speak rubbish and lies for the good of “The Party” may be good. In the appendix to 1984, Orwell explains:

Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak […]. Like various words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

An example of a skillful duckspeaker in action is provided in the beginning of chapter 9, in which an Inner Party speaker is haranguing the crowd about the crimes of Eurasia when a note is passed into his hand; he does not stop speaking for a moment, or change his voice or manner, but (according to the changed party line) he now condemns the crimes of Eastasia, which is Oceania’s new enemy.

Goodsex and sexcrime

Goodsex is any form of sex considered acceptable by the Party; specifically, this refers only to married heterosexual sex for the exclusive purpose of providing new children for the Party. All other forms of sex are considered sexcrime.

Ownlife

Ownlife refers to the tendency to enjoy being solitary, which is considered subversive. Winston Smith comments that even to go for a walk by oneself can be regarded as suspicious.

Prefixes

  • Un-” is a Newspeak prefix used for negation. It is used as a prefix to make the word negative, since there are no antonyms in Newspeak. Therefore, for example, warm becomes uncold. It is often decided to keep the word which has a more unpleasant nuance to it when choosing which one of the antonyms should be kept in the process of diminishing vocabulary. Therefore, cold is preferred to unwarm or unhot, and dark is preferred to unlight, even though cold and darkness are not physical phenomena as opposed to light and heat. The Party’s choice for the less pleasant versions of an antonym may be interpreted as another way the Party makes its subjects depressive and pessimistic to suppress unorthodox thought. On the other hand, the Party controls one’s ability to think negatively by sometimes allowing only the positive term preceded by “un-”. For example, the concept of “bad” can be expressed only with ungood. When placed before a verb, “un-” becomes a negative imperative; for example, unproceed means “do not proceed”. This is similar to the adding of “mal” for negation in Esperanto.
  • Ante-” is added to a word in place of using the word “before” (and literally means ‘before’ in Latin). For example, “antefiling” would mean “before filing”.
  • Plus-” is an intensifier, in place of “more” or the suffix “-er” (in some situations). Thus, great or better becomes plusgood.
  • Doubleplus-” further intensifies “plus-”, so doubleplusgood is used in place of excellent or best.


Suffixes

  • -ful” is a Newspeak suffix used to turn another word into an adjective. For example, rapid would be rendered as speedful.
  • -ed” is the only method to make a non-auxiliary verb past tense in the A-vocabulary. This decreases the number of words required to express tenses by removing irregular conjugations. Ran becomes runneddrank becomes drinked, etc.
  • -wise” is a Newspeak suffix used to turn another word into an adverb. For example, quickly would be rendered as speedwise. Therefore “He ran very quickly” would become “He runned plus-speedwise”.


Thoughtcrime

Main article: Thoughtcrime

Unperson

An unperson is a person who has been “vaporized”; who has not only been killed by the state, but effectively erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely (for it would be impossible to provide evidence of their existence), even by close friends and family members. Mentioning his or her name, or even speaking of their past existence, is thoughtcrime; the concept that the person may have existed at one time and has disappeared cannot be expressed in Newspeak. Compare to the Stalinist practice of erasing people from photographs after their execution.

In his 1960 magazine article “Pravda means ‘Truth’”, reprinted in Expanded Universe, Robert A. Heinlein argued that a cosmonaut who mysteriously disappeared on May 15, 1960 had also received this treatment. The BBC has described journalist Melissa Chan as having become an “unperson” in China, after her expulsion from the country.

Other Newspeak words

(Many of these are in fact merely part of the “abbreviated jargon — not actually Newspeak, but consisting largely of Newspeak words — used in the Ministry for internal purposes”, described by Orwell in chapter 4.)

  • ante~: A prefix used meaning “pre~” or “before”.
  • artsem: Artificial insemination.
  • bb: Big Brother.
  • crimestop: to rid oneself of unwanted thoughts, i.e., thoughts that interfere with the ideology of the Party. This way, a person avoids committing thoughtcrime.
  • current
  • dayorder: Order of the day.
  • doublethink
  • equal: Only in the sense of physically equal, like equal height/size, etc. It does not mean socially – politically or economically – equal, since there is no such concept as social inequality in purportedly egalitarianistic Ingsoc.
  • facecrime: An indication that a person is guilty of thoughtcrime based on their facial expression.
  • file
  • forecast
  • free: meaning Negative freedom (without) in a physical sense, only in statements like “This dog is free from lice”, as the concepts of “political freedom” and “intellectual freedom” do not exist in Newspeak.
  • full: (The adverb fullwise appears in the Records Department’s written orders.)
  • good: (Can also be used as a prefix vaguely meaning “orthodox”.)
  • goodthink: Vaguely translatable to orthodox thought.
  • ingsoc: English Socialism.
  • issue: children produced by goodsex.
  • joycamp: forced labor camp.
  • malquoted: flaws or inaccurate presentations of Party or Big Brother-related matters by the press. See misprints below.
  • miniluv: “Ministry of Love” (secret police, interrogation and torture)
  • minipax: “Ministry of Peace” (Ministry of War, cf: ‘Department of Defense’ vs ‘War Department’)
  • minitrue: “Ministry of Truth” (propaganda and altering history, culture and entertainment)
  • miniplenty: “Ministry of Plenty” (keeping the population in a state of constant economic hardship)
  • misprints: Errors or mispredictions which need to be rectified in order to prove that the Party is always right. See malquoted above.
  • oldspeak: English; perhaps any language that is not Newspeak.
  • oldthink: ideas inspired by events or memories of times prior to the Revolution.
  • plus~: A prefix used in the sense of very, i.e., to give an adjective or an adverb a stronger meaning (e.g. plusgood means “very good”).
  • pornosec: Subunit of the Fiction Department of the Ministry of Truth that produces pornography.
  • prolefeed: the steady stream of mindless entertainment to distract and occupy the masses.
  • recdep: “Records Department” (division of the Ministry of Truth that deals with the rectification of records; department in which Winston works)
  • rectify: Used by the Ministry of Truth as an euphemism for the deliberate alteration of the past.
  • ref: To refer (to).
  • report
  • sec: Sector.
  • speakwrite: An instrument used by Party members to note or “write” down information by speaking into an apparatus as a faster alternative to an “ink pencil”. It is, for example, used in the Ministry of Truth by the protagonist Winston Smith.
  • telescreen: television and security camera-like devices used by the ruling Party in Oceania to keep its subjects under constant surveillance.
  • thinkpol: The Thought Police.
  • upsub: submit to higher authority. In one scene in the novel, Winston Smith is instructed to alter a document to conform with the Party line, and submit it to his superiors before filing it: rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling.
  • verify
  • yp (year plan)


Words incorrectly attributed to Orwell’s Newspeak

The word doublespeak is often incorrectly attributed to Orwell. It was actually coined in the early 1950s, and does not appear in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but its meaning forms a natural parallel to the Newspeak word doublethink. The word groupthink, another word using a Newspeak-like pattern, was coined in 1952 by William H. Whyte.

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This Wikipedia article is reprinted here under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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