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Orwellian is an adjective derived from the name of the writer 'George Orwell'. It is used in its most straightforward sense to refer to him.

In a less straightforward sense, it is used (more often) to describe something which Orwell hated and did his best to expose as hateful. Orwellian is applied to evoke the sense of a totalitarian society, under constant surveillance in a police state, as described in his novel 1984. It is worth reminding ourselves that Orwell described this in order to attack it. Bernard Crick, in his article in the Oxford DNB, says:

"The word 'Orwellian' conveys the fear of a future for humanity governed by rival totalitarian regimes who rule through suffering, deprivation, deceit, and fear, and who debase language and people equally."

He goes on to say something that tells us why George Orwell was a writer greatly loved by many, as well as a man who attracted much affection. His writing (see Orwell's Rules of style for a very small taste of how he wrote) is admirable.

"But 'Orwell-like' conveys something quite different: a lover of nature, proto-environmentalist, advocate of plain language and plain speaking, humorist, eccentric, polemicist, and someone who could meditate, almost mystically, almost pietistically, on the pleasure and wonder of ordinary things - as in the small, great essay 'Some thoughts on the common toad'."