de·​con·​struc·​tion | \ ˌdē-kən-ˈstrək-shən How to pronounce deconstruction (audio) \

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 (such as a theory) often in order to reveal its inadequacy

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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.

Examples of deconstruction in a Sentence

a lengthy deconstruction of the president's speech by a panel of pundits

Recent Examples on the Web

Her writing was a revolutionary deconstruction of struggles that helped lead the Black Arts Movement. Erika Ryan, CNN, "Courage and sacrifice: 6 activists behind LGBTQ progress," 26 June 2019 For the last few months, the interior has been stripped down and prepared for final deconstruction. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Boiler house and smokestacks at Louisville's Cane Run Generating Station demolished," 8 June 2019 Emily Long Some shops may offer demolition or deconstruction services, while others serve merely as a clearinghouse for buying and selling. Emily Long, Curbed, "How to offload old fixtures after a home renovation," 2 Nov. 2018 But the Baltimore program operated by Humanim is unique for its focus on deconstruction and refurbishing reclaimed wood. Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY, "Baltimore is mired in violent crime. Could part of the solution be found in reclaimed wood?," 10 June 2018 Ensembles in the main gallery by Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara demonstrate the evolution of deconstruction and the influences of punk and kawaii (cute) culture on Japanese fashion. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "On Exhibit: Japan Fashion Now," 1 Oct. 2010 Artists who lived across the chasm of World War II often rebelled against traditional forms, taking up the standards of savage irony and deconstruction. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Memorial Tablet in Viale Cavour," 21 Dec. 2018 Guidance sent to agency heads last week gives his offensive, which also hit employee grievance procedures, high priority on Trump’s to-do list for deconstruction of the administrative state. Joe Davidson, Washington Post, "OPM guidance pushes quick, forceful action on Trump’s orders to weaken unions, due process," 9 July 2018 The deconstruction of language is breathtaking, the interrogation of symbols startling. Constance Grady, Vox, "The Alice Walker anti-Semitism controversy, explained," 20 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deconstruction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of deconstruction

1973, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deconstruction

French déconstruction, from dé- de- + construction

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Statistics for deconstruction

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for deconstruction

The first known use of deconstruction was in 1973

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English Language Learners Definition of deconstruction

technical : 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

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