Meaning of thoughtcrime in English:


Pronunciation /ˈθɔːtkrʌɪm/


  • An instance of unorthodox or controversial thinking, considered as a criminal offence or as socially unacceptable.

    ‘thoughtcrimes are notoriously difficult to prosecute’
    • ‘In this state Christian clergymen are threatened with jail for thoughtcrimes while vicious child molesters are released from prison to take up residence near schools and playgrounds.’
    • ‘But his pleas were ignored, and two months later he was brought before Lysenko and an unnamed ally to answer for his thoughtcrime.’
    • ‘I'm perturbed at the subtextual agenda in this piece, which seeks to define thoughtcrime and convict the ex-leader of it, because after you remove the man the definition stands, and fits people like us quite neatly.’
    • ‘Every single sentence is purged of any possible thoughtcrime, any suggestion that one's corporate goal is not striding confidently forward on its shining path.’
    • ‘But, as with most of these squabbles, he has been punished through sheer bureaucratic frogmarching as much as if he had been found guilty of thoughtcrime.’
    • ‘At a minimum, these guys are guilty of thoughtcrime, and at the worst, blasphemy.’


1930s from thought + crime, after Japanese shisō-hanzai. The term was popularized by George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).