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big brother

an elder brother.
(sometimes initial capital letters) a man who individually or as a member of an organized group undertakes to sponsor or assist a boy in need of help or guidance.
(usually initial capital letters) the head of a totalitarian regime that keeps its citizens under close surveillance.
(usually initial capital letters) the aggregate of officials and policy makers of a powerful and pervasive state.
Citizens Band Radio Slang. a police officer or police car.
Origin of big brother
1860-65; 1949 for defs 3, 4, the epithet of a dictator in G. Orwell's novel 1984 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for big brother
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Away with it and its limitations, and those of its big brother, the automobile!

    A Woman Tenderfoot Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
  • Then the big brother went home and took counsel with his wife.

  • “Have patience but a little while longer,” said the big brother.

  • The surprises of the night were not yet over for big brother Bill.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • “Tell us some more about big brother Bill,” she said, with the pretense of a sigh.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
British Dictionary definitions for big brother

Big Brother

a person, organization, etc, that exercises total dictatorial control
a television gameshow format in which a small number of people living in accommodation sealed off from the outside world are constantly monitored by TV cameras. Viewers vote each week to expel a person from the group until there is only one person left, who wins a cash prize
Word Origin
C20: after a character in George Orwell's novel 1984 (1949)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for big brother

Big Brother

"ubiquitous and repressive but apparently benevolent authority" first recorded 1949, from George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for big brother

Big Brother

noun phrase

  1. The faceless and ruthless power of the totalitarian or ureaucrati state personified (1949+)
  2. The tracking radar used by ground controllers (1970s+ Airline)

[Big brother, ''protector,'' is attested fr at least the 1860s; first sense fr its use by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; second sense quite benign]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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