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Doublespeak is language deliberately constructed to disguise its actual meaning, usually from governmental, military, or corporate institutions.

The word doublespeak was coined in the early 1950s. It is often incorrectly attributed to George Orwell and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The word actually never appears in that novel; Orwell did, however, coin Newspeak, Oldspeak and doublethink, and his novel made fashionable composite nouns with speak as the second element, which were previously unknown in English. It was therefore just a matter of time before someone came up with doublespeak. Doublespeak may be considered, in Orwell's lexicography, as the B vocabulary of Newspeak, words "deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them."

Successfully introduced doublespeak, over time, becomes part of the general language, shaping the context in which it is used. See below for discussion of classified and unclassified.

In addition, doublespeak may be in the form of bald euphemisms ("downsizing" for "firing of many employees") or deliberately ambiguous phrases ("wet work" for "assassination").

The process of abbreviating names or forming acronyms to form new words, which arose during the World War and Cold War governments and corporate institutions, is now pervasive (for example: Wikipedia from "Wiki Encyclopedia").

Whereas in the early days of the practice it was considered wrong to construct words to disguise meaning, this is now an accepted and established practice. There is a thriving industry in constructing words without explicit meaning but with particular connotations for new products or companies. For example, in 1972 Esso (itself a neologism from the acronym for "Standard Oil") changed to Exxon, a name chosen in large part for its graphic properties (some accuse Esso of changing its name to sound like Nixon, as he was running for president at that time; Exxon is still called 'Esso' in Europe and Canada). See also jargon, neologism.

What distinguishes doublespeak from other euphemisms is its deliberate usage by governmental, military, or corporate institutions.

The term has come to be used by extension in the term doublespeak argument, which means a debate where one or more sides puts forth purposely false reasonings for its point of view to diguise its true intentions.

Some examples of doublespeak, with etymologies:

See also: propaganda, euphemism, neologism, Newspeak, political correctness, Noam Chomsky, Janus head.

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