1984 Quotes: The 30 Best & Most Important Lines From George Orwell’s Masterpiece

1984 Quotes Cover

1984 is a dystopian science-fiction novel set in the year of its name, originally published in 1949 by George Orwell. Praised for its strong characters, rethinking of societal structures, and prophetic vision, the book has become a literary classic that is analyzed in thousands of classrooms around the world each year. If you’re looking for the best 1984 quotes, our organized list should be just the right place.

Below, we’ve compiled the most popular 1984 quotes for you, based on the number of votes on Goodreads. We’ve also included Nik’s personal highlights from reading the book cover to cover and several cool images for sharing the top quotes on social media.

Want a summary of the book so you can better understand the quotes and their context? Download our free PDF, print it, and read along. Or save it for later and read it whenever you want!

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You can easily navigate this list by jumping to any section that interests you using the table of contents below. If you want to share a quote, just highlight it, and sharing options for all major social media platforms will appear. Alternatively, you can also use the premade images we created for you in the last section of this list.

Alright, let’s get to it!


The 10 Most Popular Quotes From 1984

If you’re wondering what the most popular 1984 quotes are, here are the ten lines from the book with the highest number of votes on Goodreads, ranging from 15,000+ to 2,200+ votes.

1. “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” 

2. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  

3. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” 

4. “The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.” 

5. “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” 

6. “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” 

7. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” 

8. “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” 

9. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 

10. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”


My 20 Favorite 1984 Quotes

I recently read 1984 in its entirety for the first time. Here are the lines I highlighted in the book and found most noteworthy, in order of when they appear in the book:

11. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  

12. “It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another.”

13. “It struck him as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones.” 

14. “Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.” 

15. “But if there was hope, it lay in the proles. You had to cling on to that. When you put it in words it sounded reasonable: it was when you looked at the human beings passing you on the pavement that it became an act of faith.”

16. “If you kept the small rules you could break the big ones.”

17. “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?” 

18. “To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one’s lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available.” 

19. “Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.”

20. “The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.”

21. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

22. “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” 

23. “Sanity is not statistical.” 

24. “Where there is equality, there can be sanity.” 

25. “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

26. “What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?” 

27. “Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever… And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon.”

28. “Merely to be alone, not to be beaten or questioned, to have enough to eat, and to be clean all over, was completely satisfying.”

29. “‘If he THINKS he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously THINK I see him do it, then the thing happens. … It doesn’t really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.’ … What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.” 

30. “To die hating them, that was freedom.” 

As you might notice, five quotes overlap with the top 10 most popular quotes, showing those are indeed lines that seem to jump out to many people, including me.

Then again, I find some of the often-shared quotes lack context and power when taken out of their surrounding paragraphs. In this case, the “boot stamping on a human face” line felt a lot stronger when followed up with “And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon.”

Finally, a fun fact on the side: I also recently read Origin by Dan Brown, and in that book, there’s an AI guiding Robert Langdon, the protagonist. The name of the AI is Winston, just like the name of the protagonist in 1984. Coincidence? I think not. After all, Big Brother is always watching. 😉


More 1984 Quotes

The single-best way to get more original quotes from 1984 is to, well, read the book! Here’s a quick overview of the book, as well as some buttons to read our summary or buy yourself a copy on Amazon (affiliate link).

1984 Quotes Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” — George Orwell

The Book in One Sentence

1984* is the story of a young man questioning the system that keeps his futuristic but dystopian society afloat, and the chaos that quickly ensues once he gives in to his natural curiosity and desire to be free.

Why should you read it?

If you enjoy books in a dystopian setting that challenge our structure of society, then you’ll be an instant fan of Orwell’s. This classic is a good reminder of what can happen when governments go too far. If you’re worried about freedom and sovereignty, this is a great book for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. The most powerful way to either control or empower humans is language.
  2. Freedom is the ability to say what’s true, to say what you think, and to make your own choices.
  3. Totalitarian governments succeed when they turn off our individuality via gaslighting.

If you want to learn more, you can click below or get a copy for yourself.

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1984 Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

If you want to post any of the above quotes to social media, you can do so with our “highlight and share” feature. That said, we also made some custom images for you to easily tap and share. Some are optimized for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, others follow Instagram’s classic square format or Pinterest’s more vertical layout.

We even created some AI art for the backgrounds so that each image fits the dystopian vibe of the book. Happy sharing! 

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Conclusion

That concludes our list of the 30 best and most important quotes from 1984. What do you think? Did we pick some good ones? Which ones are we missing? Feel free to share your favorite with us on Twitter!


Other Quote Lists

Looking for more quotes from interesting people and lines from great books? Here are all quote lists we’ve hand-selected for you so far:


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Last Updated on February 3, 2023