Utopia - dystopia

From Hull AWE
(Redirected from Dystopia)
Jump to: navigation, search

Utopia – pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, which is long, IPA: / juː 'təʊ pɪ ə/ - was the title of a book published in 1516 by Thomas More (1478-1535). In Utopia More offers an account of (what he considers to be) an ideal or perfect society. Since then the word utopia (with or without an initial capital) has been used as a common noun to mean ‘an ideal society or perfect world’. (Utopia means ‘no place’ or ‘nowhere’: it was a New Latin word coined by More and derived from the Greek οὐ (ou, ‘not’) and τόπος (topos, ‘place’)).

The adjective from utopia is utopian, meaning ‘of, or relating to, an ideal or perfect society or world’. The word is sometimes used to criticize, e.g., a policy or proposal, i.e., to say that it is suitable only for an ideal world, not for the imperfect world in which we live, and hence is hopelessly impractical.

The opposite of a utopia is a dystopia, i.e., an imaginary society or world in which everything is very bad. The word dystopia, which comes from the Greek δυσ- (dus-, a prefix with the force of ‘hard’, ‘bad’, ‘unlucky’) and τόπος (topos, ‘place’), was coined in the nineteenth century by the philosopher and social reformer John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).