Important terms in George Orwell’s 1984

A list of terms used in George Orwell’s 1984

Telescreen: 

The telescreen is a television-like device used by the party to watch party workers round the clock. The telescreens are everywhere from apartments to the party office and canteen.

Once a physical training instructor instructs Winston directly from the telescreen which proves that people on the other side can see those in the front of the telescreens.


Winston finds a corner in his apartment to hide from the telescreen and write his journal. He tries to wear an appropriate expression on his face while standing before the telescreen. 

Suggested Reading: Summary and analysis of George Orwell’s A Hanging.

Thought Crime:

The party likes to maintain full control of people’s lives in Oceania. It is against the law to think or plan against the party. It is constantly watching its people for any signs of dissent and protest.

The thought criminals (people who think or plan against the party and Big Brother) are caught, tried, and then vaporized. It means no sign remains to tell what happened to these people.

Thought Police:

The thought police in Orwell’s 1984 is a special branch of the police that is mainly concerned with internal problems and conflicts in Oceania. It watches the party members for any signs of dissent or opposition. There is no opposition in a  dictatorship. Apart from Big Brother no other party member is allowed to grow influential.

The thought police play a very special role i8n this regard helping Big Brother maintain his control over the party members and Oceania’s citizens. It arrests thought criminals at night and then vaporizes them. Some thought criminals may be retained till they have identified others and allowed to live for a year or two after which they vanish forever.

The thought police depend on the telescreen and the citizens for intel. If someone suspects a person to be thinking against the interests of the party, he denounces the suspect as a thought criminal.

The children are a particularly important source of intel for the thought police. Several of them denounced their parents as thought criminals. The thought police have a brutal image. It has created an environment of fear in Oceania to help Big Brother rule.

Two Minutes Hate:

The two minutes hate is a special practice that is used by the party to continuously train the workers to remain blind followers of its ideology.

During the hate, they denounced the traitors and mainly Goldstein who used to be among the oldest members of the party but turned against it. The two minutes long assembly takes the form of a frenzy where party members assemble before a large telescreen and shout against Goldstein and rival nations.

As the name suggests, the two-minutes hate is aimed at growing the hatred inside people against rivals and traitors. It helps the party and Big Brother divert people’s attention from the more pressing concerns like the deficiency of good food, clothing, and other amenities in Oceania and its economic performance.

Doublethink:

In an effort to maintain complete control of its people, the government watches the party workers all the time. It tries to draw a tough wall around people’s consciousness and thoughts. Oceania is a world full of lies and one branch of the government, The Ministry of Truth, is constantly working on making these lies seem like truth.

It is constantly working on past pieces of literature and news and making changes so that they are not considered lies. The citizens are supposed to digest all these lies and not raise a single question against the authenticity of the facts the government presents. In Oceania, the government wants people to manipulate their own thoughts and vision to embrace all of the government’s lies.

This process is referred to as doublethink in Newspeak where people apply a fresh coat on existing facts to swallow whatever the government feeds them. One needs to maintain control of his memory and remain ready to make changes whenever needed. Something that is true today will not be true forever.

However, in this process the government has also annihilated all the history, making life clumsier for people. Doublethink is like a fresh layer of coat to hide the previous coat on the wall.

Newspeak:

Newspeak is the official language of Oceania. In the form of Oceania, Orwell presents a dictatorship that tries to control the citizens and their lives using various methods. A language is also a tool of manipulation and exploitation for the government, which also uses several other sophisticated techniques like the telescreen and the thought police.

Keeping the crucial role of language and communication in any society in mind, the government’s manipulation of language looks laughable. Newspeak is a sarcastic term that implies how distorting language causes the decay of a society. Oldspeak was the standard form of the English language and the government has developed which more or less looks like a shorthand form of regular English.

In chapter 5, Orwell highlights that the government has trimmed down the language in an effort to clip its own citizens’ wings. It is doing so to control the level of thought crime by drawing boundaries around people’s thoughts and consciousness. Newspeak prevents people from thinking freely by limiting the number of words that they can use.

In chapter 5, Orwell’s friend Syme accuses him of not knowing Newspeak because his works were generally translations from Oldspeak to Newspeak and not really written in Newspeak.

Proles:

The proles are the significant working-class citizens of Oceania. According to various sources, the word is a satirical take on the proletariat. These proles are nameless creatures that live in an identity crisis.

They do not have any rights in Oceania. They are second-class citizens. While the dictatorship has already kept underthing under its own control, the proles’ lives are worse.

In Chapter 5, Winston’s friend Syme reflects that these proles will no longer be there by 2050. He also reflects that there is no need to be concerned for them or the kind of lives they will lead.

Thought criminal:

In Oceania, everyone lives a heavily watched life. People are under the tight control of the party. They are watched all the time using a telescreen.

They are not only expected to wear proper facial expressions and demonstrate satisfaction for the party and its methods, they are also expected to think highly of the party and Big Brother all the time. If they think against the party and Big Brother, they are termed thought criminals.

As such, the party workers and their families need to remain alert that they do not demonstrate anti-government thinking or behavior at any place. The people who commit thought crimes are thought criminals. The government can bear anyone thinking against it or trying to uproot it from Oceania.

The thought Police have special authority to arrest the thought criminals and punish them. They act on the basis of intel received from the citizens including young children. Winston fears being denounced as a thought criminal someday. He knows he committed a thought crime the day he started writing against the party and Big Brother.

Duckspeak:

Duck speak is a newspeak term that means to quack like a duck. The term has a contradictory meaning like many other newspeak terms. When used in the context of an enemy, it is abuse, but when used in the context of a friend, it means appreciation.

Orwell uses the term for the first time in chapter five of Book one of the novel in the context of a  man who speaks in a manner that makes it difficult for the listeners to understand him. The person does not care if people like his manner of speaking or not.

Face crime:

Like thought crime, there is also another crime in Oceania called Face Crime. Face Crime means the use of wrong facial expressions in public places or before the telescreen.

Face crimes are considered offensive and everyone is expected to put on the right expression on their face while in the public or in the private confines of their homes.


For example, people must wear an expression of satisfaction and gratitude when they are working in their office or when any important news is broadcast from the telescreen.