I am looking for a word but I'm not sure if it's a real word or if I just don't know it. I am discussing George Orwell's novel, 1984, and how the titles oppose all the things they describe. For instance, the "Victory Cigarettes" fall apart and are horrible, not the victor of anything. The "Victory Mansions" are small and crappy apartments. The word "victory" is describing something that is the opposite of victory. It's like a euphemism but instead of using it to lighten the blow, is is completely wrong and opposite of what it really is.

  • Are you looking for the word "ironic"? See dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/ironic Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 16:23
  • "Ironic" is an obvious choice as @MarkHubbard mentionned, but there's also "contradictory/contradiction" to consider, especially if the contradiction is unintended.
    – MorganFR
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 16:33
  • 'ironic' is the 'right' answer, especially if asking for "the word". If the answer were, how 'else' could I briefly label the situation in words that would not confuse a broad audience.. there probably is room for discussion.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 19:51
  • controversy: when a word is so often misused, at some point it no longer expresses what it's dictionary definition is to the audience. I'm not sure if that is the case here or not but..interesting read blog.dictionary.com/ironic
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 19:52

3 Answers 3


The word for this was coined by George Orwell himself: "newspeak". A word or phrase in newspeak is a euphemism whose real meaning is generally the opposite of what the word or phrase says literally.

Noun: newspeak 'n(y)oo,speek

Deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language use[d] to mislead and manipulate the public

"the welfare state brought its own newspeak"

WordWeb online


I suspect the answer you're looking for is oxymoron, a self-contradictory phrase.

  • An oxymoron would be "liquid gas" or "larger half", examples of two words that contradict each other. The phrases mentioned don't contradict themselves, but use words who's meaning contradicts the usage. Different thing.
    – Hank
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 19:52
  • The usual definition is 'words that appear to contradict' (like 'living dead') but make a sense when examined more deeply. A condensed paradox. Not a contradiction in terms (He was 7 years old and 4 years old last week). Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 21:04

Newspeak is absolutely the perfect label for your examples of nonsense. Also, each nonsensical label is in fact a lie.

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