"1984," Vocabulary from the Appendix-Afterword

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 Newspeak and Orwell's warning.

Here are word lists for all of 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. devise
    arrange by systematic planning and united effort
    Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism.
  2. supersede
    take the place or move into the position of
    It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2050.
  3. superfluous
    serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being
    The version in use in 1984, and embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak dictionary, was a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic formations which were due to be suppressed later.
  4. diminish
    decrease in size, extent, or range
    Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.
    Compare this verb with the noun "diminution" in the list for Part 2: Chapters 6-10--both show the Party's goal of decreasing language, thought, and liberty. Both example sentences have an objective tone, but one is supposed to have been written by a rebel (when it was actually written by Inner Party members), while the other is presented as a historical and explanatory description of a living language (when it was invented by Orwell just for his novel).
  5. ambiguity
    unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning
    All ambiguities and shades of meaning had been purged out of them.
  6. euphony
    any pleasing and harmonious sounds
    In Newspeak, euphony outweighed every consideration other than exactitude of meaning.
  7. implication
    a meaning that is not expressly stated but can be inferred
    The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.
  8. comprehensive
    including all or everything
    These words, necessarily few in number, had had their meanings extended until they contained within themselves whole batteries of words which, as they were sufficiently covered by a single comprehensive term, could now be scrapped and forgotten.
  9. constitute
    form or compose
    In somewhat the same way, the Party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from it were possible.
  10. ambivalent
    uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow
    Other words, again, were ambivalent, having the connotation “good” when applied to the Party and “bad” when applied to its enemies.
  11. monotonous
    sounded or spoken in a tone unvarying in pitch
    The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at once staccato and monotonous.
  12. smattering
    a small number or amount
    Any scientific worker or technician could find all the words he needed in the list devoted to his own specialty, but he seldom had more than a smattering of the words occurring in the other lists.
  13. inimical
    not friendly
    Ideas inimical to Ingsoc could only be entertained in a vague wordless form, and could only be named in very broad terms which lumped together and condemned whole groups of heresies without defining them in doing so.
  14. despair
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    George Orwell’s 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it.
    This and the following words and example sentences are from an Afterword written by Erich Fromm and published in 1961 (12 years after Orwell's 1984). The focus on despair and soullessness is a clue to Fromm's background in psychoanalysis. Its purpose of pointing out a warning for readers all over the world is a clue to Fromm's experience as a college professor.
  15. manifest
    clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment
    It is precisely the significance of Orwell’s book that it expresses the new mood of hopelessness which pervades our age before this mood has become manifest and taken hold of the consciousness of people.
  16. utopia
    ideally perfect state
    The negative utopias express the mood of powerlessness and hopelessness of modern man just as the early utopias expressed the mood of self- confidence and hope of post-medieval man.
  17. pertinent
    having precise or logical relevance to the matter at hand
    Orwell’s picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a “stable” deterrent.
  18. assumption
    a hypothesis that is taken for granted
    Orwell demonstrates the illusion of the assumption that democracy can continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war, and he does so imaginatively and brilliantly.
  19. pragmatism
    the doctrine that practical consequences determine value
    The position which Orwell attributes here to the power elite can be said to be an extreme form of philosophical idealism, but it is more to the point to recognize that the concept of truth and reality which exists in 1984 is an extreme form of pragmatism in which truth becomes subordinated to the Party.
  20. clarity
    the quality of being coherent and easily understood
    One can react to this picture in two ways: either by becoming more hopeless and resigned, or by feeling there is still time, and by responding with greater clarity and greater courage.
  21. viable
    capable of life or normal growth and development
    If the world of 1984 is going to be the dominant form of life on this globe, it will mean a world of madmen, and hence not a viable world (Orwell indicates this very subtly by pointing to the mad gleam in the Party leader’s eyes).
  22. Renaissance
    the revival of learning and culture
    On the contrary, it was quite obviously their intention to sound a warning by showing where we are headed for unless we succeed in a renaissance of the spirit of humanism and dignity which is at the very roots of Occidental culture.
  23. alienation
    separation resulting from hostility
    Orwell, as well as the two other authors, is simply implying that the new form of managerial industrialism, in which man builds machines which act like men and develops men who act like machines, is conducive to an era of dehumanization and complete alienation, in which men are transformed into things and become appendices to the process of production and consumption.
  24. inherent
    existing as an essential constituent or characteristic
    All three authors imply that this danger exists not only in communism of the Russian or Chinese versions, but that it is a danger inherent in the modern mode of production and organization, and relatively independent of the various ideologies.
  25. confront
    be face to face with
    The hope can be realized only by recognizing, so 1984 teaches us, the danger with which all men are confronted today, the danger of a society of automatons who will have lost every trace of individuality, of love, of critical thought, and yet who will not be aware of it because of “doublethink.”

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