de·​noue·​ment ˌdā-ˌnü-ˈmäⁿ How to pronounce denouement (audio)
variants or less commonly dénouement
: the final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work
In the denouement, the two lovers commit suicide.
: the outcome of a complex sequence of events

Example Sentences

In the play's denouement, the two lovers kill themselves.
Recent Examples on the Web For the denouement of this interaction, the two connected at the Two Step Inn Festival. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 17 Apr. 2023 Initially absent from this stark denouement to her signature policy initiative was Truss herself, who further damaged her credibility last Friday by taking just four questions during a press conference following the departure of Kwarteng, her closest political ally. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 17 Oct. 2022 But focusing on the specifics ignored the obvious: This week’s denouement represents the nadir in Messi’s transactional relationship not only with P.S.G. but perhaps also with the state of Qatar. Tariq Panja, New York Times, 3 May 2023 The cheerful part of the denouement does feel credible, though, as by the end Baez seems content in having found where her darkness came from. Chris Willman, Variety, 20 Feb. 2023 Then the variegated canvas concentrates and streamlines, to deliver a dramatic showdown and denouement. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2022 The struggle that had defined me had reached its denouement of freedom — and what comes after freedom? Samuel Ernest, Longreads, 2 May 2023 And truly, despite chatter online decrying the show’s dour denouement, that was the point. WIRED, 17 Mar. 2023 Donald Trump’s estranged lawyer Michael Cohen testified for three hours Monday before a New York grand jury, and Mr. Trump has also been invited to appear, a sign that the investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg might be nearing its denouement. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 14 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'denouement.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1705, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of denouement was in 1705

Dictionary Entries Near denouement

Cite this Entry

“Denouement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​noue·​ment ˌdā-ˌnü-ˈmän How to pronounce denouement (audio) dā-ˈnü-ˌ How to pronounce denouement (audio)
: the final solution or untangling of the conflicts or difficulties that make up the plot of a literary work
: the outcome of a complicated or difficult situation or sequence of events
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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