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

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 But also because 30 years feels like a natural denouement. Debbie Truong, Washington Post, "‘I still think I have a lot to offer:’ Three decades later, a Virginia teacher’s words ring true.," 1 July 2018 Back in Illinois, Janus had been on hold pending a Friedrichs denouement. James Taranto, WSJ, "The Lawyers Who Beat the Unions," 29 June 2018 Trudy Rubin What’s so astonishing about this denouement is that the White House has squandered a pressure campaign that was paying some dividends. Trudy Rubin,, "North Korea meeting canceled thanks to Trump team's bluster | Trudy Rubin," 24 May 2018 Their aim, Mr Power says, was to create a distilled English version that would speak to a London audience, many of whom will have an intimate knowledge of the financial crisis that is the drama’s inevitable denouement. The Economist, "On stage, the saga of the Lehman brothers is a parable of America," 12 July 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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de novo


Statistics for denouement

Last Updated

9 Oct 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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a state of commotion or excitement

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