The page includes the very best George Orwell quotes, categorised by topic.

‘George Orwell’ is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (1903 – 1950), a widley quoted English novelist, journalist and essayist. Apart from the sharp observations and clear prose of his essays and journalistic articles, his novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four are among the most influential novels of the 20th century.

Some writers have such distinctive styles or ways of depicting the world that those characteristics have earned them recognition in words like ‘Shakespearean,’ ‘Dickensian,’ ‘Chaucerian.’  Orwell has joined that group with some of his quotes:  such terms as ‘alternative facts’ are clearly Orwellian. Some of the words he coined, like ‘doublespeak’ – contradictory statements, and ‘thoughtcrime,’  have now become part of the English language. His name for the face of the oppressive state of Oceana’s surveillance of the population, ‘Big Brother,’ is now a very familiar term in modern Western culture, and  ‘Room 101,’ a torture chamber in Nineteen Eighty-four, commonly now refers to any place you don’t want to go to. The word ‘unfriend’ used by Facebook to dismiss or delete someone is distinctly Orwellian in that the language of his fictional state, ‘Newspeak,’ uses the prefix  ‘un’ to create an opposite. In Facebook it is used as a verb, but it implies ‘enemy,’ the opposite of ‘friend.’ That kind of language is very much due to the influence of George Orwell. Quotes from his various works reflect that.

With this in mind, here is our seleciton of the most memorable and significant George Orwell quotes:

George Orwell quotes on freedom

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.”

George Orwell quote

“Freedom of speech is real.”

George Orwell quote

“He is a slave with a semblance of liberty which is worse than the most cruel slavery.”

George Orwell quote

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

George Orwell quote

“In every one of those little stucco boxes, there”s some poor bastard who”s never free except when he”s fast asleep and dreaming”

George Orwell quote

“Looking at the whole world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery.”

George Orwell quote

“No one can get up much enthusiasm for a Government which puts you in jail if you open your mouth”

George Orwell quote

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”

George Orwell quote

“The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside.”

George Orwell quote

“The imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity.”

George Orwell quote

“There was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom.”

George Orwell quote

“What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.”

George Orwell quote

“Will the man in the street ever feel that freedom of the mind is as important and as much in need of being defended as his daily bread?”

George Orwell quote

“You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself.”

George Orwell quote

“You just got to say to yourself, “I”m a free man in here” – he tapped his forehead – “and you”re all right”.”

George Orwell quote

George Orwell quotes on power & politics

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.”

George Orwell quote

“A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.”

George Orwell quote

“By preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except the steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.”

George Orwell quote

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

George Orwell quote

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

George Orwell quote

“It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one”s intelligence.”

George Orwell quote

“Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

George Orwell quote

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

George Orwell quote

“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution, one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

George Orwell quote

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

George Orwell quote

“The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

George Orwell quote

“There is something wrong with a regime that requires a pyramid of corpses every few years.”

George Orwell quote

“Threats to freedom of speech, writing, and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect, and unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”

George Orwell quote

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

George Orwell quote

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell quote
George Orwell quote

George Orwell quotes on society

“A world in which it is wrong to murder an individual civilian and right to drop a thousand tons of high explosive on a residential area sometimes make me wonder whether this earth of ours is not a loony bin made use of by some other planet.”

George Orwell quote

“Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion, and such truisms as that a machine-gun is still a machine-gun even when a ‘good’ man is squeezing the trigger… have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter.”

George Orwell quote

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. This is an illusion.”

George Orwell quote

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

George Orwell quote

“In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane.”

George Orwell quote

“In the face of pain there are no heroes.”

George Orwell quote

“It is not possible for any thinking person to live in such a society as our own without wanting to change it.”

George Orwell quote

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing”

George Orwell quote

“Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.”

George Orwell quote

“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”

George Orwell quote

“People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”

George Orwell quote

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

George Orwell quote

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

George Orwell quote

“The distinguishing mark of a man is the hand, the instrument with which he does all his mischief.”

George Orwell quote

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”

George Orwell quote

“The existing social order is a swindle and its cherished beliefs mostly delusions.”

George Orwell quote

“The nation is bound together by an invisible chain.”

George Orwell quote

“Think of life as it really is, think of the details of life; and then think that there is no meaning in it, no purpose, no goal except the grave. Surely only fools or self-deceivers, or those whose lives are exceptionally fortunate, can face that thought without flinching.”

George Orwell quote

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

George Orwell quote

“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

George Orwell quote

George Orwell quotes on truth

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

George Orwell quote

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell quote

“In England such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in. They may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions.”

George Orwell quote

“Intellectual honesty is a crime in any totalitarian country; but even in England it is not exactly profitable to speak and write the truth.”

George Orwell quote

“Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

George Orwell quote

“Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. “

George Orwell quote

“The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later, a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on the battlefield.”

George Orwell quote

“The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits “atrocities” but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future.”

George Orwell quote

What do you think of all of these George Orwell quotes – any particularly great one’s we’re missing? Let us know in the comments section below!

george orwell quote written on northern lights background - in a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act