Word of the Day: Dystopian

By Maeve Maddox

background image 219

Dystopian [dĭs-tō’pē-ən] (or dystopic) is the adjective form of dystopia, a place in which people live in misery. It derives from the literary invention of Utopia, an imaginary place in which human misery has been eliminated. The terms are common in film criticism.

The end is nigh in Children of Men, the superbly directed political thriller by Alfonso Cuarón about a nervously plausible future. Based in broad outline on the 1992 dystopian novel by P. D. James about a world suffering from global infertility, the film pictures a world that looks a lot like our own, but darker, grimmer and more frighteningly, violently precarious. (New York Times)

“Fictional dystopias are almost always cautionary tales – warnings of where our political, cultural and social surroundings are taking us. The novels here all share common motifs: designer drugs, mass entertainment, brutality, technology, the suppression of the individual by an all-powerful state – classic preoccupations of dystopian fiction. These novels picture the worst because, as Swift demonstrated in his original cautionary tale, Gulliver’s Travels, re-inventing the present is sometimes the only way to see how bad things already are.” (The Guardian guardian.co.uk)

Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!

Keep learning! Browse the Word of the Day category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:

3 Responses to “Word of the Day: Dystopian”

  • Hannah Friedman

    Fabulous word- one of my favorite narrative tools (and hopefully a future we will be able to avoid)

    Hannah Friedman
    New York Television Festival Flying Solo Winner
    Everything Sucks out Aug ’09

  • Rajesh Chaudhary

    I have just got this site to visit. it is a privilege for me to get the most invaluable information provided by this site. it is really wonderful and particular to those who are preparing for some kind of test.

    I really appreciate for this work. Keep it up and we will be sending you feedback time and again to make it much better.

    Thank you,
    Rajesh Chaudhary, Nepal.

  • Raghu Osti

    so good site.i really like it and making best use of it to upgrade my english.thank you.
    Raghu Osti, Nepal(now in Canada)

Leave a comment: