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 Much of it is Sondheim sitting at a white piano, offering background and deconstruction of motifs, as well as tips on acting, directing and conducting. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "From ‘South Park’ to ‘Knives Out,’ Pop Culture Is Steeped With Sondheim," 12 Mar. 2020 The deconstruction company, Melching Demolition from Muskegon, has assumed responsibility for everything left in the building, Biehl said. Washington Post, "Sisters of St. Joseph motherhouse demolished in Kalamazoo," 2 Mar. 2020 While Demeulemeester’s deconstructions read as Belgian, her Goth sensibility was connected, via her muse Patti Smith, to New York’s late 1970s punk scene. Vogue, "The Women Designers Who Changed The Way We Dress," 14 Aug. 2019 Selling those materials helps reduce the higher cost of deconstruction. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee continues freeze on requirement that old houses be slowly dismantled, instead of quickly razed," 14 Jan. 2020 To me, the show feels a lot like a challenge to or deconstruction of the traditional teen melodrama. Matt Brennan,, "‘Euphoria’ creator Sam Levinson isn’t interested in following the rules," 1 July 2019 To me, the show feels a lot like a challenge to or deconstruction of the traditional teen melodrama. Matt Brennan,, "‘Euphoria’ creator Sam Levinson isn’t interested in following the rules," 1 July 2019 The book’s analytical framework was amazingly inconsistent, but the essays were often several orders bolder than the endless Internet-era deconstructions of complicated female pop-culture icons that would follow. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "The Chaotic, Beautiful Larks of Elizabeth Wurtzel," 10 Jan. 2020 But those plans were stymied when pollution was discovered from its previous use as a lumber mill and dry dock for ship construction and deconstruction. oregonlive, "Portland City council votes to fund cleanup plan on superfund site," 12 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for deconstruction

Time Traveler

The first known use of deconstruction was in 1973

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Statistics for deconstruction

Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Deconstruction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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How to pronounce deconstruction (audio)

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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deconstruction Encyclopedia article about deconstruction

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