de·​noue·​ment | \ ˌdā-ˌnü-ˈmäⁿ How to pronounce denouement (audio) , dā-ˈnü-ˌmä \
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 Campion handles the story with puzzle-box precision, but the power of this movie goes beyond its clockwork plotting and startling, deeply satisfying denouement. Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2021 Watching the denouement may not surprise readers, who know that a gun room revealed early on will appear again, and that a magnetic leader will probably experience a downfall. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2021 The film’s denouement occurs when Stanley finds a place nearby the sand holes that has less sand. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 22 Oct. 2021 But of course, the denouement of this story involves the SEC and its new chairman Gary Gensler, someone who quashed retail speculative activities in currency markets while at the helm of the CFTC and may soon disappoint bitcoin ETF fans. Javier Paz, Forbes, 13 Oct. 2021 Within that scene is the heart-wrenching pas de deux by Katie Moorhead and Gregory Tyndall, to music by Max Richter, that is not only the denouement of that scene but, in a way, of the piece as a whole., 13 Oct. 2021 More than 330 people, over half of them children, died in the siege’s catastrophic denouement when explosions tore through the school and security forces stormed the building. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, 11 May 2021 The painter survived the fall and execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536, too, a cruel denouement that endows his sketches of the Boleyn circle with a tragic aura, akin to that of photographs of the Romanovs just before the Russian Revolution. Dominic Green, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2021 That event has a much more violent denouement, the perps turning out to be a family of local laborers who all worked on building the house. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 22 Sep. 2021

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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The first known use of denouement was in 1705

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Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Denouement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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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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