Where do the terms Utopia and Dystopia come from?

The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_by_Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, oil on oak panels.

Utopia

The term utopia was coined in Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean.

The word comes from the Greek: οὐ (“not”) and τόπος (“place”) and means “no-place”, and strictly describes any non-existent society ‘described in considerable detail’. However, in standard usage, the word’s meaning has narrowed and now usually describes a non-existent society that is intended to be viewed as considerably better than contemporary society. Eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ (“good” or “well”) andτόπος (“place”), means “good place”, and is strictly speaking the correct term to describe a positive utopia. In English, eutopia and utopia are homophonous, which may have given rise to the change in meaning

Dystopia

Dystopia is derived from the term Utopia. Decades before the first documented use of the word “dystopia” was “cacotopia” (using Ancient Greek: κακόs, “bad, wicked”) originally proposed in 1818 by Jeremy Bentham: “As a match for utopia (or the imagined seat of the best government) suppose a cacotopia (or the imagined seat of the worst government) discovered and described.” Though dystopia became the more popular term, cacotopia finds occasional use, for example by Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, who said it was a better fit for Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four because “it sounds worse than dystopia”.

The first known use of dystopian, as recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary, is a speech given before the British House of Commons by John Stuart Mill in 1868, in which Mill denounced the government’s Irish land policy: “It is, perhaps, too complimentary to call them Utopians, they ought rather to be called dys-topians, or caco-topians. What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable; but what they appear to favour is too bad to be practicable”. Built from Wiki – Deskarati

utopian

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