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 The denouement of 2020 is soap opera-esque at best and full-blown apocalyptic at worst — and there is literally no indication of how the last two months of the year will pan out. Sumiko Wilson,, "You Have 10 New Netflix Canada Treats To Watch This Weekend," 8 Oct. 2020 Walking, but with words Strolling down the street with your nose in a book can be a physical challenge (don’t trip during that thriller’s denouement!). National Geographic, "How libraries are writing a new chapter during the pandemic," 26 Sep. 2020 Hannah keeps her readers on their toes through numerous twists and turns, right up until the trademark drawing-room denouement. Sophie Hannah, Star Tribune, "Review: 'The Killings at Kingfisher Hill,' by Sophie Hannah," 11 Sep. 2020 Davis scored the Lakers’ final 10 points — the denouement the 3-pointer as time expired. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Lakers' Anthony Davis channels Kobe Bryant for biggest moment of his career," 21 Sep. 2020 According to Curtice, Britain’s economic dominance and status as an imperial powerhouse began to fade around the same time as the conflict’s denouement, limiting the benefits Scotland reaped as a member of the union. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Not-So-Brief History of Scottish Independence," 30 Jan. 2020 The Adoration of the Shepherds is surreal and a denouement. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "El Greco Sizzles in Chicago, in Paris, Not So Much," 15 Aug. 2020 The Dalits endured centuries of abuse and stigma only to birth a potent political movement that transformed India’s civil-rights laws before the denouement of Jim Crow. Hamilton Cain Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Caste,' by Isabel Wilkerson," 31 July 2020 Researchers aren’t sure how the deadly drama came to be preserved just before its denouement, but the find may be the earliest known example of a squid-like predator attacking its prey. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "200-Million-Year-Old Fossil Captures Squid Viciously Entangled With Its Prey," 7 May 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about denouement

Time Traveler for denouement

Time Traveler

The first known use of denouement was in 1705

See more words from the same year

Statistics for denouement

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Denouement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for denouement


How to pronounce denouement (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of denouement

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on denouement

What made you want to look up denouement? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!