de·​con·​struc·​tion ˌdē-kən-ˈstrək-shən How to pronounce deconstruction (audio)
: 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
: the analytic examination of something (such as a theory) often in order to reveal its inadequacy

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 Once the scan for records has been completed, the DuckDuckGo system, using a similar deconstruction of each of the data broker websites, will then automatically make requests for the records to be removed, the team working on the product say. Matt Burgess, WIRED, 11 Apr. 2024 With astonishing performances, bursts of hilarious absurdity, a surprise midseason twist, and beautifully meditative direction by Hader, the final season of Barry delivered a pensive and beautifully peculiar deconstruction of our need for redemption and the (im)possibility of true change. Kristen Baldwin,, 6 July 2023 The process of deconstruction can evoke feelings of grief, confusion and existential crisis, as individuals reconcile their uncertainties and their newfound beliefs and identities. 3. Mark Travers, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 Even more than their visceral deconstruction of rock and roll and even more than their famously outrageous live shows—think nudity, crowd taunts, fire, destruction—that name seemed to doom them for underground notoriety and exclude them from mainstream success. Stephen Deusner, SPIN, 26 Mar. 2024 This idea of off-ness is expressed in ways ranging from gentle (backward collars) to more extreme deconstructions. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 12 Mar. 2024 The dams, which no longer generate much electricity, are being torn down in a $450 million deconstruction project. Ben Tracy, CBS News, 5 Mar. 2024 Much has been written about the jaw-dropping visuals inside the Sphere, and much of the imagery — including a deconstruction of the Las Vegas skyline — lives up to the hype. Michael Schneider, Variety, 2 Mar. 2024 There’s one thing that separates Drive-Away Dolls from the usual pulp-fiction deconstruction template that the brothers had perfected in the past, however. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 23 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deconstruction.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French déconstruction, from dé- de- + construction

First Known Use

1973, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deconstruction was in 1973

Dictionary Entries Near deconstruction

Cite this Entry

“Deconstruction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

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