Orwellian is an adjective meaning "authoritarian," "tyrannical," or "dystopian," and in particular, authoritarian to such an extreme degree as to embody a wish to control reality itself.
The term is usually applied to the actions of a government or ruling body. The term comes from the situations and concepts from George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, which depicts an intensely authoritarian government. For example, the government in 1984 modifies history, monitors every aspect of peoples' lives, and encourages the worship of the ruling Party.
 Aspects of the definition
 Revisionism and Doublethink
One of the most important (and most chilling) concepts in 1984 is Orwell's description of how the ruling regime modifies history, statistics, and even current events to subjugate people. Some of these concepts include:
- the manipulation of language (Newspeak, political correctness)
- the State altering history to suit its purposes (negationism, pseudohistory)
- the encouragement of doublethink
- euphemistic/obfuscating language
- widespread propaganda to promote the State/ruling Party
- the destruction of any evidence/information that casts the State in an unfavorable light
- the torture and subsequent murder of anyone without a uniform personality, i.e., making the wrong face or speaking in the wrong tone is a major transgression
1984 also contains descriptions of authoritarianism and tyranny, which are also important aspects of Orwellianism. Some examples include:
- encouraging the worship of the State/Big Brother
- the State monitoring people with surveillance equipment
- the State forcing people into economic classes against their will
- an economy controlled by the state and integrated with a military-industrial complex
Ironically, Orwell himself was a leftist and a democratic socialist. Even more ironically, Orwell spoke against the obfuscation of language and was particularly opposed to people using precise terms in the wrong context, yet "Orwellian" has been applied to even the most benevolent of world leaders.