The word thoughtcrime was introduced by George Orwell in 1948 as a label that would be applied by authority to any challenge to its authority or its prevailing groupthink, however small a challenge, and in whatever early stage of its intellectual development.

Although it was originally a rhetorical construct in a work of fiction, it is widely used in nonfiction sources and the phenonemon is noted often in political science.

Mature organizations are careful to avoid any perception that they are defining or forbidding dissent and so any attempt to define or act on any belief in thoughtcrime would be disingenuous.

In immature organizations unable to exercise political influence in democratic developed nations, it is still very common to hear what amount to plain accusations that some one cannot share the same goals as the group because they do not accept all the various assumptions of the group, or its so-called "leadership", which may not be an entity of any integrity nor status but one that has only usurped power.

Other related terms from Orwell's lexicon include prole, Inner Party, Outer Party, plusgood, doubleplusgood, ungood, plusungood, doubleplusungood, duckspeak, raise the chocolate ration, war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. These often appear in critiques of the Bush administration.