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

In truth, the denouement was hardly a thing of beauty, with both men, clearly spent, fighting themselves and the tension of the moment as much as the guy on the other side of the net. Brian Mahoney,, "Berrettini outlasts Monfils to reach US Open semifinals," 5 Sep. 2019 Were the film building to a particularly tragic denouement, then the spiraling narrative of three women getting sucked deeper into a life of crime might make more sense. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Kitchen Can’t Figure Out What Kind of Gangster Film It Is," 9 Aug. 2019 But after test audiences reacted unfavorably to the not-so-cheery denouement, the end of the film was re-shot to show Audrey and Seymour going off the live happily-ever-after in the suburbs. Melanie Savage,, "AHM Youth Summer Theater Presents “Little Shop Of Horrors”," 7 Aug. 2019 But everything after Neil Armstrong’s step for man/leap for mankind was a denouement, ever less marvelous. Los Angeles Times, "The moon landing: the TV show of the (half) century," 19 July 2019 And in tragedy, catastrophe is what necessitates the resolution of the plot; there is no denouement without it. Randy Rosenthal,, "They were Bosnian refugees. But to Aleksandar Hemon, they’re ‘My Parents’," 11 June 2019 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

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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Dictionary Entries near denouement






de novo


Statistics for denouement

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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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

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

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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