The Curious Origin of the Word ‘Dystopia’

Interesting Literature

The interesting origins of dystopia

The word ‘dystopia’ is well-known as the opposite, or antonym of ‘utopia’. ‘Utopia’ owes its existence to Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), whose 1516 work Utopia introduced the word into English (though More’s book was actually written in Latin). Utopia is a pun, designed to put us in mind of the Greek u-topos (‘no place’) and eu-topos (‘good place’). Utopias, More appears to be saying, are too good to be true. The origin of the equivalent term, ‘dystopia’, is a rather interesting one.

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