Trend Watch

Deus Ex Machina

A new film riffs on this Latin literary phrase ...


Lookups spiked the week starting April 24, 2015.


The movie "Ex Machina" opened this week.

The title of the movie is Latin and means "from a machine." It's a riff on the more familiar phrase deus ex machine, which literally translates to "god from a machine."

In ancient Greek and Roman dramas, the deus ex machina was a literary - and mechanical - device. A player acting the part of a god was lowered into the action by means of a crane, usually to resolve a conflict or dilemma and so decide the final outcome of the play. We borrowed the Latin phrase into English in the late 1600s; it's still used in its dramatic sense as well as in a figurative sense to refer to anything that brings a swift and apparently contrived solution to an unsolvable problem.

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