"1984," Vocabulary from Part 1: Chapters 5-8

George Orwell's "1984" is a stark vision of a possible future where loyalty to leaders is demanded and our very thoughts are controlled. Learn this word list that focuses on the Party vs. proles.

Here are all of our word lists for the novel: Part 1: Chapters 1-4, Part 1: Chapters 5-8, Part 2: Chapters 1-5, Part 2: Chapters 6-10, Part 3, Appendix-Afterword

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. alluring
    highly attractive and able to arouse hope or desire
    He seemed to breathe again the warm stuffy odor of the basement kitchen, an odor compounded of bugs and dirty clothes and villainous cheap scent, but nevertheless alluring, because no woman of the Party ever used scent, or could be imagined as doing so.
  2. inextricable
    incapable of being disentangled or untied
    Only the proles used scent. In his mind the smell of it was inextricably mixed up with fornication.
  3. tacitly
    by unexpressed agreement
    Tacitly the Party was even inclined to encourage prostitution, as an outlet for instincts which could not be altogether suppressed.
  4. debauchery
    a wild gathering involving drinking and promiscuity
    Mere debauchery did not matter very much, so long as it was furtive and joyless, and only involved the women of a submerged and despised class.
  5. impregnable
    incapable of being attacked or tampered with
    They were all impregnable, as the Party intended that they should be.
    The given definition is intended by the example sentence and supported by this: "And what he wanted more even than to be loved, was to break down that wall of virtue, even if it were only once in his whole life." The Party intends for women to put up a figurative wall that's impregnable, but once married, women need to be impregnable in an additional literal way ("capable of conceiving") in order to keep the Party going.
  6. disregard
    give little or no attention to
    If there was hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.
    This example sentence reveals Winston and the Party's different attitudes towards the proles. For Winston, the proles represent a force of hope. The Party disregards the proles, seeing them only as a swarming mass similar to insects. Shortening the word "proletariat" to "proles" is also an insulting connection to the Roman law that recognized propertyless citizens as useful only if they had children.
  7. conspire
    act in agreement and in secret towards a deceitful purpose
    But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire.
    In Latin, "com" and "spirare" mean "to breathe together"--this sense of innocent cooperation is not intended by the example sentence. "Conspire" is used negatively to focus on the secret planning of a conspiracy. Winston wants the proles to work and breathe together to overthrow the Party, and he thinks that they can do so without a conspiracy because the strength in their numbers would allow them to act openly and at once.
  8. reverberation
    an echo
    It was a great formidable cry of anger and despair, a deep loud “Oh-o-o-o-oh!” that went humming on like the reverberation of a bell.
  9. clamor
    make loud demands
    The successful women, bumped and jostled by the rest, were trying to make off with their saucepans while dozens of others clamored round the stall, accusing the stallkeeper of favoritism and of having more saucepans somewhere in reserve.
  10. subjection
    forced submission to control by others
    But simultaneously, true to the principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules.
  11. petty
    small and of little importance
    Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds.
  12. indoctrinate
    teach uncritically
    A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party.
  13. grievance
    a complaint about a wrong that causes resentment
    And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances.
  14. racketeer
    someone who commits crimes for profit
    There was a vast amount of criminality in London, a whole world-within-a-world of thieves, bandits, prostitutes, drug peddlers, and racketeers of every description; but since it all happened among the proles themselves, it was of no importance.
  15. perpetually
    everlastingly; for all time
    The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face.
  16. sinecure
    a job that involves minimal duties
    After confessing to these things they had been pardoned, reinstated in the Party, and given posts which were in fact sinecures but which sounded important.
    The Medieval Latin phrase "sine cura" means "without cure of souls"--this connects to its original use to describe a church position that does not require spiritual duties. Since curing souls used to be seen as difficult and important work, a sinecure was in contrast an easy, less useful job. Because the Party needs its members to feel like they are part of something useful and important, it would not give sinecures to anyone whom it was planning to keep.
  17. posterity
    all future generations
    They were executed, and their fate was recorded in the Party histories, a warning to posterity.
  18. subtle
    difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
    His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer.
  19. palpable
    capable of being perceived
    “If there is hope,” he had written in the diary, “it lies in the proles.” The words kept coming back to him, statement of a mystical truth and a palpable absurdity.
  20. wariness
    the trait of being cautious and watchful
    But it was not hostility, exactly; merely a kind of wariness, a momentary stiffening, as at the passing of some unfamiliar animal. The blue overalls of the Party could not be a common sight in a street like this.
  21. sordid
    foul and run-down and repulsive
    Within three or four minutes he was out of the area which the bomb had affected, and the sordid swarming life of the streets was going on as though nothing had happened.
    "Sordid" also means "morally degraded"--both definitions fit Winston's observations of the proles on the streets, which include ragged, barefoot children playing in puddles and drunken men violently arguing about the Lottery.
  22. frequent
    be a regular visitor to a certain place
    It was nearly twenty hours, and the drinking shops which the proles frequented (“pubs,” they called them) were choked with customers.
  23. altercation
    a noisy quarrel
    He was a few paces away from them when suddenly the group broke up and two of the men were in violent altercation.
  24. anodyne
    a medicine used to relieve pain
    It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant.
  25. pugnacious
    ready and able to resort to force or violence
    “I arst you civil enough, didn’t I?” said the old man, straightening his shoulders pugnaciously. “You telling me you ain’t got a pint mug in the ’ole bleeding boozer?”
  26. persist
    refuse to stop
    “I like a pint,” persisted the old man. “You could ’a drawed me off a pint easy enough. We didn’t ’ave these bleeding liters when I was a young man.”
  27. tentative
    hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion
    “You must have seen great changes since you were a young man,” said Winston tentatively.
  28. linger
    leave slowly and hesitantly
    But he lingered for some minutes more, talking to the old man, whose name, he discovered, was not Weeks—as one might have gathered from the inscription over the shopfront—but Charrington.
  29. obscure
    remote and separate physically or socially
    She must have followed him here, because it was not credible that by pure chance she should have happened to be walking on the same evening up the same obscure back street, kilometers distant from any quarter where Party members lived.
  30. lassitude
    weakness characterized by a lack of vitality or energy
    A deadly lassitude had taken hold of him.

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