Simple Definition of deconstruction
: a theory used in the study of literature or philosophy which says that a piece of writing does not have just one meaning and that the meaning depends on the reader
Full Definition of deconstruction
1 : a philosophical or critical method which asserts that meanings, metaphysical constructs, and hierarchical oppositions (as between key terms in a philosophical or literary work) are always rendered unstable by their dependence on ultimately arbitrary signifiers; also : an instance of the use of this method <a deconstruction of the nature–culture opposition in Rousseau's work>
2 : the analytic examination of something (as a theory) often in order to reveal its inadequacy
Examples of deconstruction in a sentence
<a lengthy deconstruction of the president's speech by a panel of pundits>
Did You Know?
Deconstruction doesn't actually mean "demolition;" instead it means "breaking down" or analyzing something (especially the words in a work of fiction or nonfiction) to discover its true significance, which is supposedly almost never exactly what the author intended. A feminist may deconstruct an old novel to show how even an innocent-seeming story somehow depends on the oppression of women. A new western may deconstruct the myths of the old West and show lawmen as vicious and criminals as flawed but decent. Table manners, The Sound of Music, and cosmetics ads have all been the subjects of deconstructionist analysis. Of course, not everyone agrees with deconstructionist interpretations, and some people reject the whole idea of deconstruction, but most of us have run into it by now even if we didn't realize it.
Origin and Etymology of deconstruction
French déconstruction, from dé- de- + construction
First Known Use: 1973
Seen and Heard
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