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

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 Everything’s a mash-up, a melange, a deconstruction of hierarchies in search of discovery. Jordan Michelman, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Apr. 2022 The complexity has prompted some cities to tackle deconstruction slowly. Aarian Marshall, Wired, 22 Feb. 2022 Dufilho soon discovered other women who were going through deconstruction, mainly via social media. Brianna Griff, Chron, 18 Mar. 2022 The city’s construction waste specialist, Shawn Wood, is one of the country’s leading deconstruction policy experts. Aarian Marshall, Wired, 22 Feb. 2022 An audience goes into a sketch ready for all manner of rapid-fire experimentation, a wildly porous fourth wall and extreme narrative deconstruction. New York Times, 9 Feb. 2022 Its proponents acknowledge that deconstruction can be profoundly unmooring. Audrey Clare Farley, The New Republic, 3 Jan. 2022 Not so with Where the Light Fell, at once a deconstruction of fundamentalist faith but also an incredible yarn with twists and turns. John Brandon, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2021 Elsewhere, an element of deconstruction was on display. Kristen Bateman, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of deconstruction was in 1973

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deconstruction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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