unperson n.

a person who, usually for political reasons, is deemed not to have existed and whose name is removed from all public records; hence, more generally: a person whose contributions or achievements are officially denied or disregarded; a person regarded as less than human

Used chiefly with allusion to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, by ‘George Orwell’.

  • 1949 ‘G. Orwell’ Nineteen Eighty-Four ii. v. 160 page image George Orwell bibliography

    It was inconceivable that this was anything other than a reference to Syme. But Syme was not only dead, he was abolished, an unperson. Any identifiable reference to him would have been mortally dangerous.

  • 1964 J. Speer Ramac in Sky in Fancestral Voices (2004) 149

    He doesn’t just kill the person; he makes him an unperson—wiping out so far as feasible everything he’s done.

  • 2007 I. McDonald Brasyl 173

    That is what the ambulance crews are taking away in their black bag: a body wearing a pair of I-shades that say Edson Jesus Oliveira de Freitas. Edson is an unperson now. There is no place for him in Cidade de Luz.

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.