dystopia n. 2

an imaginary place or state of affairs in which there is great suffering or injustice, esp. as the result of a totalitarian or dehumanizing political state; the genre of fiction set in such a situation; cf. utopia n.

[< dys-, prefix representing Ancient Greek δυσ- ‘bad’ + -topia (ultimately from Ancient Greek τόπος ‘place’), after utopia n.]

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism



  • 1955 C. S. Lewis George Orwell in On Stories (1982) 104 C. S. Lewis

    Again, 1984 belongs to…the genre of what may be called ‘Dystopias’, those nightmare visions of the future which began, perhaps, with Wells’s Time Machine and The Sleeper Wakes.

  • 1991 Locus Nov. 17/1

    ‘Down and Out in the Year 2000’ make us live for a while in their two versions of future dystopia.

  • 1991 Locus May 38/2

    Are you warning us, is this dystopia, or are you advocating a new lifestyle?

  • 1994 Science-Fiction Studies Mar. 52

    The three legs would head off in three different directions that were as far apart from each other as I could imagine, each of them taking a basic science fiction scenario—the after-the-fall, the dystopia, and the utopia.

  • 2002 Dreamwatch Sept. 56/3

    But while countless movies have been set in gritty dystopias or fanciful medieval kingdoms, none have paired aspects of those two worlds in such an unusual way.

Last modified 2022-05-08 18:43:37
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.