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’.
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.
Nineteen Eighty-Four v. 160
He doesn’t just kill the person; he makes him an unperson—wiping out so far as feasible everything he’s done.
Ramac in Sky in Fancestral Voices (2004) 149
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.