deus ex machina

noun
de·​us ex ma·​chi·​na | \ ˈdā-əs-ˌeks-ˈmä-ki-nə How to pronounce deus ex machina (audio) , -ˈma- How to pronounce deus ex machina (audio) , -ˌnä; -mə-ˈshē-nə \

Essential Meaning of deus ex machina

: a character or thing that suddenly enters the story in a novel, play, movie, etc., and solves a problem that had previously seemed impossible to solve

Full Definition of deus ex machina

1 : a god introduced by means of a crane (see crane entry 1 sense 3a) in ancient Greek and Roman drama to decide the final outcome
2 : a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty … the shipwreck, far from being a tragic peripety, is the deus ex machina which makes it possible for Defoe to present solitary labour … as a solution to the perplexities of economic and social reality.— Ian Watt

Did you know?

The New Latin term deus ex machina is a translation of a Greek phrase and means literally "a god from a machine." "Machine," in this case, refers to the crane that held a god over the stage in ancient Greek and Roman drama. The practice of introducing a god at the end of a play to unravel and resolve the plot dates from at least the 5th century B.C.; Euripides (circa 484-406 B.C.) was one playwright who made frequent use of the device. Since the late 1600s, "deus ex machina" has been applied in English to unlikely saviors and improbable events that bring order out of chaos in sudden and surprising ways.

Examples of deus ex machina in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For cinema operators like O’Meara, the latest Spidey movie isn’t merely a deus ex machina, something that swings in like a gift from the heavens to boosts ticket sales and popcorn purchases. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 30 Dec. 2021 In a strange twist for a movie at least somewhat about free speech, the deus ex machina is famously corrupt head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover himself. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 21 Dec. 2021 Many hoped vaccines would put a deus ex machina-style end to the virus. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, 18 Dec. 2021 In Lowery’s movie, as in the poem, however, magic does not function as a deus ex machina to tie up loose ends but as a way to talk about control. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Artificial intelligence does not come to us as a deus ex machina but, rather, through a number of dehumanizing extractive practices, of which most of us are unaware. Jonathan Franzen, The New York Review of Books, 6 Oct. 2021 In Lowery’s movie, as in the poem, however, magic does not function as a deus ex machina to tie up loose ends but as a way to talk about control. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 In Lowery’s movie, as in the poem, however, magic does not function as a deus ex machina to tie up loose ends but as a way to talk about control. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 In Lowery’s movie, as in the poem, however, magic does not function as a deus ex machina to tie up loose ends but as a way to talk about control. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deus ex machina.' 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 deus ex machina

1697, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for deus ex machina

New Latin, a god from a machine, translation of Greek theos ek mēchanēs

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The first known use of deus ex machina was in 1697

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deus ex machina.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deus%20ex%20machina. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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