THE misuse of ‘Orwellian’ risks making the adjective utterly meaningless, experts have warned.
Academics believe that people who have never read 1984 or Animal Farm are using the term to describe absolutely anything they dislike.
English professor Julian Cook said: “The word ‘Orwellian’ refers to totalitarian control of the individual by the use of propaganda, surveillance and violence. It is nothing to do with having to put your recycling out.
“Similarly, speed cameras are not ‘Orwellian’. Winston Smith does not spend 1984 trying to weasel out of a £75 fine for doing 70 on the A12.
“Even CCTV isn’t really Orwellian, because merely being filmed in public does not result in you having a cage full of hungry rats put on your head.
“It’s also incorrect to use the term to describe anything loosely connected with the state. People may not like the licence fee, but I suspect having to cough up £145 to see Doctor Who is better than living in North Korea.”
Professor Cook added that Orwell would not have seen ‘political correctness’ as Orwellian, and would probably not have considered the right to use words like ‘bird’ and ‘poof’ as a valuable freedom.