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big brother

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noun
  1. an elder brother.
  2. (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.
  3. (usually initial capital letters) the head of a totalitarian regime that keeps its citizens under close surveillance.
  4. (usually initial capital letters) the aggregate of officials and policy makers of a powerful and pervasive state.
  5. Citizens Band Radio Slang. a police officer or police car.
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Origin of big brother

1860–65; 1949 for defs 3, 4, the epithet of a dictator in G. Orwell's novel 1984
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for big brother

Historical Examples

  • "And he's got a bully girl, too, now that she's got down to brass tacks," said Alec in big-brother style.

    The Fifth Wheel

    Olive Higgins Prouty


British Dictionary definitions for big brother

Big Brother

noun
  1. a person, organization, etc, that exercises total dictatorial control
  2. 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
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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

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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper