George Orwell's 1984 Integrates Into Language

by Cass Art

1984 was the year Cass Art first opened its first shop in Charing Cross. But 1984 has different connotations for most people - George Orwell's great literary novel, 1984, has possibly even more relevance today in 2014 than it did when it was published in 1949.

That's because many Orwellian concepts and phrases from his dystopian novel have been adopted into our modern language. Art and language have always gone hand in hand - the colloboration group Art&Language are proof enough of that - and so here at Cass Art we wanted to take the focus away from art supplies for just a moment, and take a look at the words that we have integrated from 1984 into our own lexicon.

After Orwell's concepts so effortlessly entered the public consciousness, it's fair to say that his novel truly did change the thinking of generations to come.


Big Brother

51 years before we started watching Big Brother, Big Brother was watching us in Orwell's book. Little could he have envisaged that his fictional dictator's name would one day be borrowed for a downmarket virtual reality TV show hosted by Davina McCall.

Room 101

This was the room that brought you face to face with your deepest, darkest fears. In 1984's hero Winston Smith's case, it was a pack of rats. For a new generation, it has become no more synonymous with terror than a gentle TV show asking celebrities about their pet hates - things to be locked away in a room forever. Hosts have included Neil Hancock, Paul Merton and Frank Skinner. But what would you put in Room 101? Unwashed, ruined paintbrushes would be top of our list.

Thought Police

This has filtered into the English language in recent years, referring to actual or considered imposition of ideological propriety. 


Orwell's artistic novel told of a world in which language was reduced to minimise the threat to the state via education. Some critics of social media have pointed to how Twitter restricts messages to a mere 140 characters. This, they claim, encourages a similar dumbing-down. #CassArt. #ShamelessPlug. 


British people are today monitored by more than four million surveillance cameras, according to Liberty civil rights organisation. Back in the late 1940s Orwell painted a world where each citizen's movements were constantly traced by the government, primarily through telescreens and large display terminals in their own homes.

2+2 = 5

This, like so many Orwellianisms, has been incorporated into everyday English phraseology. Originally, Orwell used the term for Big Brother's henchmen to mould Smith to see that falsehoods could be truisms if the authorities so wished. Today, people most commonly use the expression if they have wrongly been accused of something, or someone has reached an incorrect conclusion. 

Security Camera

Celebrate With Us

We've arranged lots of things so you can celebrate 1984 and 30 years of Cass Art in style.

Enter our Prize Draw and win £5000 worth of prizes - there are 30 prizes for 30 years, so enter here with a chance to win. 

Get yourself a Limited Edition 30th Anniversary Art in Bag - find out more and read about the history of the Cass Art bagson our blog.

Every weekend throughout June and July there will be a Back To 1984 Prices offer - sign up to our newsletter here to receive the different discounts. 

Shop online
 to stock up on your art materials and take advantage of our 30th Anniversary sale

There is also an extra 30% off selected products online and at our Islington FlagshipHampstead and Kingston shops. 

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