75 George Orwell Quotes for All Time

Last updated on Jun 25th, 2023

75 George Orwell Quotes for All Time

Eric Arthur Blair (born June 25, 1903, in Motihari, Bengal, India – died January 21, 1950, in London, England), known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic whose works dealt with some of the major political movements of his time.

Orwell is best remembered today for his two novels, the allegorical Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). In addition to them, his most notable works include Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and Homage to Catalonia (1938).

Considered one of the most famous English essayists of the 20th century, Orwell’s influence on contemporary culture, popular and political, continues to grow decades after his death. Many of his neologisms, including the term Orwellian, are now part of the English language.

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. - George Orwell (Politics and the English Language Quotes)
1

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.Politics and the English Language (December 11, 1945)

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. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
2

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. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 266

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting. - George Orwell (The Sporting Spirit Quotes)
3

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.The Sporting Spirit (December 14, 1945)

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 (Politics and the English Language Quotes)
4

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.Politics and the English Language (December 11, 1945)

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. - George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
5

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 251

Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. - George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi Quotes)
6

Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.Reflections on Gandhi (January 1949)

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. - George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four - 1984 Quotes)
7

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 290

The prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash - though it does involve that, as I will show in a moment - but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever. - George Orwell (Confessions of a Book Reviewer Quotes)
8

The prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash – though it does involve that, as I will show in a moment – but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever.Confessions of a Book Reviewer (May 3, 1946)

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket. - George Orwell (Keep the Aspidistra Flying Quotes)
9

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket.Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1954), Page 66

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever. - George Orwell (1984 Quotes)
10

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 271

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time. - George Orwell (The Art of Donald McGill Quotes)
11

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.The Art of Donald McGill (September 1941)

Being in a minority, even 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 (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
12

Being in a minority, even 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.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 219

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, and one should recognise it as such, but one ought also to stick to one's own world-view, even at the price of seeming old-fashioned: for that world-view springs out of experiences that the younger generation has not had, and to abandon it is to kill one's intellectual roots. - George Orwell Quotes
13

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, and one should recognise it as such, but one ought also to stick to one’s own world-view, even at the price of seeming old-fashioned: for that world-view springs out of experiences that the younger generation has not had, and to abandon it is to kill one’s intellectual roots.Review of A Coat of Many Colours: Occasional Essays by Herbert Read, Poetry Quarterly (Winter 1945)

Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults, in a child's eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below. - George Orwell (Such, Such Were the Joys Quotes)
14

Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults, in a child’s eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below.Such, Such Were the Joys (1947)

WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH - George Orwell (1984 Quotes)
15

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTHNineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 5

There's time for everything except the things worth doing. - George Orwell (Coming Up for Air Quotes)
16

There’s time for everything except the things worth doing.Coming Up for Air (1939), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1939), Page 82

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
17

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 215

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. - George Orwell (In Front of Your Nose Quotes)
18

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.In Front of Your Nose (March 22, 1946)

It is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life. - George Orwell (Burmese Days Quotes)
19

It is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life.Burmese Days (1934), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1962), Page 68

If you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself. - George Orwell (1984 Quotes)
20

If you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 283

The mind will play curious tricks when it is in a tight corner. - George Orwell (A Clergyman's Daughter Quotes)
21

The mind will play curious tricks when it is in a tight corner.A Clergyman's Daughter (1935), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1969), Page 296

Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
22

Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 252

Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted. - George Orwell (Burmese Days Quotes)
23

Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted.Burmese Days (1934), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1962), Page 69

To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. - George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi Quotes)
24

To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others.Reflections on Gandhi (January 1949)

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. - George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
25

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 270

Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent. - George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi Quotes)
26

Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.Reflections on Gandhi (January 1949)

Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. - George Orwell (Notes on Nationalism Quotes)
27

Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.Notes on Nationalism (October 1945)

We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them. - George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four - 1984 Quotes)
28

We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 256

Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness. - George Orwell (Arthur Koestler Quotes)
29

Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.Arthur Koestler (September 11, 1944)

Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf. - George Orwell (Notes on Nationalism Quotes)
30

Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.Notes on Nationalism (October 1945)

In moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one's own body. - George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four - 1984 Quotes)
31

In moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 102

Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. - George Orwell (Charles Dickens Quotes)
32

Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.Boys' Weeklies (March 11, 1940)

The choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. - George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four - 1984 Quotes)
33

The choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 265

The imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. - George Orwell (The Prevention of Literature Quotes)
34

The imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity.The Prevention of Literature (January 1946)

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. - George Orwell Quotes
35

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.In 1945, George Orwell wrote an introduction to 'Animal Farm.'

War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it. - George Orwell Quotes
36

War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.The statement, in New Stateman and Nation (August 28, 1937)

If you can FEEL that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any result whatever, you've beaten them. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
37

If you can FEEL that staying human is worth while, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 167

A joke is at most a temporary rebellion against virtue, and its aim is not to degrade the human being but to remind him that he is already degraded. - George Orwell (Funny, but not Vulgar Quotes)
38

A joke is at most a temporary rebellion against virtue, and its aim is not to degrade the human being but to remind him that he is already degraded.Funny, but not Vulgar (December 1, 1944)

It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realize what your own beliefs really are. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
39

It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realize what your own beliefs really are.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 197

Beauty is meaningless until it is shared. - George Orwell (Burmese Days Quotes)
40

Beauty is meaningless until it is shared.Burmese Days (1934), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1962), Page 57

If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
41

If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 130

Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
42

Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 281

One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting. - George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia Quotes)
43

One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.Homage to Catalonia (1938), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1938), Page 67

Every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
44

Every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 190

The best books are those that tell you what you know already. - George Orwell (1984 Quotes)
45

The best books are those that tell you what you know already.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 200

In order to hate imperialism you have got to be part of it. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
46

In order to hate imperialism you have got to be part of it.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 176

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. - George Orwell (James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution Quotes)
47

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution (1946)

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
48

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 3

We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine gun. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
49

We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine gun.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 98

You can get anything in this world if you genuinely don't want it. - George Orwell (Keep the Aspidistra Flying Quotes)
50

You can get anything in this world if you genuinely don’t want it.Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1954), Page 71

The logical end of mechanical progress is to reduce the human being to something resembling a brain in a bottle. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
51

The logical end of mechanical progress is to reduce the human being to something resembling a brain in a bottle.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 233

It is a corrupting thing to live one's real life in secret. One should live with the stream of life, not against it. - George Orwell (Burmese Days Quotes)
52

It is a corrupting thing to live one’s real life in secret. One should live with the stream of life, not against it.Burmese Days (1934), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1962), Page 70

It is not possible for any thinking person to live in such a society as our own without wanting to change it. - George Orwell (Why I Joined the Independent Labour Party Quotes)
53

It is not possible for any thinking person to live in such a society as our own without wanting to change it.Why I Joined the Independent Labour Party (June 24, 1939)

Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be. - George Orwell (Charles Dickens Quotes)
54

Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.Boys' Weeklies (March 11, 1940)

The price of liberty is not so much eternal vigilance as eternal dirt. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
55

The price of liberty is not so much eternal vigilance as eternal dirt.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 72

Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
56

Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 80

You can go on blackening people's reputations for years, and everyone will believe you, more or less, even when it's perfectly obvious that you're lying. - George Orwell (A Clergyman's Daughter Quotes)
57

You can go on blackening people’s reputations for years, and everyone will believe you, more or less, even when it’s perfectly obvious that you’re lying.A Clergyman's Daughter (1935), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1969), Page 291

If the war didn't happen to kill you it was bound to start you thinking. - George Orwell (Coming Up for Air Quotes)
58

If the war didn’t happen to kill you it was bound to start you thinking.Coming Up for Air (1939), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1939), Page 126

The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
59

The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 208

Life's here to be lived, and if we're going to be in the soup next week–well, next week is a long way off. - George Orwell (Coming Up for Air Quotes)
60

Life’s here to be lived, and if we’re going to be in the soup next week – well, next week is a long way off.Coming Up for Air (1939), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1939), Page 140

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. - George Orwell (Politics and the English Language Quotes)
61

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.Politics and the English Language (December 11, 1945)

The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection. - George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi Quotes)
62

The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.Reflections on Gandhi (January 1949)

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
63

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 191

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. - George Orwell (James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution Quotes)
64

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution (1946)

At 50, everyone has the face he deserves. - George Orwell Quotes
65

At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.These were apparently the last words the Nineteen Eighty-Four author penned in his personal diary. Manuscript Notebook (April 17, 1949)

Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
66

Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 255

Until you break the law nobody will take any notice of you, and you can go to pieces as you could not possibly do in a place where you had neighbours who knew you. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
67

Until you break the law nobody will take any notice of you, and you can go to pieces as you could not possibly do in a place where you had neighbours who knew you.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 79

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy? - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
68

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 266

A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him. - George Orwell (Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool Quotes)
69

A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool (March 7, 1947)

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS. - George Orwell (Animal Farm Quotes)
70

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.Animal Farm (1945), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1945), Page 105

One's got to change the system, or one changes nothing. - George Orwell (Keep the Aspidistra Flying Quotes)
71

One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing.Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1954), Page 258

Most people approve of capital punishment, but most people wouldn't do the hangman's job. - George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier Quotes)
72

Most people approve of capital punishment, but most people wouldn’t do the hangman’s job.The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), (Victor Gollancz, ed. 1937), Page 177

No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. - George Orwell (1984 - Nineteen Eighty-Four Quotes)
73

No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 266

Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. - George Orwell (Animal Farm Quotes)
74

Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.Animal Farm (1945), (Secker & Warburg, ed. 1945), Page 10

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. - George Orwell (1984 Quotes)
75

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), (Harcourt, Brace & World, ed. 1949), Page 81

Misattributed

1

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.Commonly misattributed to George Orwell without citation. Sometimes also misattributed to Winston Churchill without citation. (More info)

2

In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. (More info)

3

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history. (More info)