de·​noue·​ment | \ˌdā-ˌnü-ˈmäⁿ, dā-ˈnü-ˌ\
variants: or less commonly dénouement

Definition of denouement 

1 : the final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work In the denouement, the two lovers commit suicide.

2 : the outcome of a complex sequence of events

Examples of denouement in a Sentence

In the play's denouement, the two lovers kill themselves.

Recent Examples on the Web

The story’s denouement — the arrest of an unauthorized immigrant who was a stranger to Tibbetts — just happened to align perfectly with tropes Trump has been using for years. Dara Lind, Vox, "Trump has made Mollie Tibbetts the latest martyr in his anti-immigrant crusade," 24 Aug. 2018 That terrible denouement was perfectly foreseeable, but Mr. ElBaradei and others were blinded by their hatred of the Islamists and their faith in the army. James Traub, WSJ, "‘Into the Hands of the Soldiers’ Review: Arab Spring, Egypt’s Fall," 14 Aug. 2018 Teamwork, competition, obstacles to be overcome, and the ultimate high-stakes denouement. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "See Science Fair even if you’ve never entered one in your life," 16 Sep. 2018 After all, his character’s demise is the denouement of the first season. Alex Bhattacharji, WSJ, "Alexander Skarsgård in His Element," 6 Sep. 2018 And when dusk arrived and English tennis fans could finally turn their undivided attention to the denouement of England’s World Cup letdown against Croatia, only Nadal was still in the tournament. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "On a Wild Day at Wimbledon, Federer Exits and Nadal Hangs On," 11 July 2018 Is the denouement of the book as satisfying as its opening? Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "Far From the Shore, a Happy Couple Takes a Turn for the Worse," 11 June 2018 Choosing to give Jeannie such a pivotal role is almost as rewarding as the denouement. Karin Slaughter,, "Stephen King's 'The Outsider': A thrill ride from an American classic writer," 1 June 2018 Choosing to give Jeannie such a pivotal role is almost as rewarding as the denouement. Karin Slaughter,, "What Stephen King gets right - and wrong - in 'The Outsider'," 23 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'denouement.' 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 denouement

1705, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for denouement

French dénouement, literally, untying, from Middle French desnouement, from desnouer to untie, from Old French desnoer, from des- de- + noer to tie, from Latin nodare, from nodus knot — more at node

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for denouement

The first known use of denouement was in 1705

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English Language Learners Definition of denouement

: the final part of something (such as a book, a play, or a series of events)

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