Definition of denouement in English:


(also dénouement)


  • 1The final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved:

    ‘the film's denouement was unsatisfying and ambiguous’
    • ‘The poem doesn't reach a climax or any sense of denouement in this final installation.’
    • ‘It is this moment of rupture which carries the denouement of the film into relatively unexplored territory in Australian landscape cinema.’
    • ‘As if to reinforce the point, the final denouement, which takes place on live TV, is staged off-screen.’
    • ‘It combined the delicacy of ballet with the bombast of a Lloyd-Webber musical, and every move was executed like the denouement of a Shakespearean tragedy.’
    • ‘The plays require neither plot structure nor plausible dénouement to produce the recurring fantasy of woman's life in the absence of men.’
    • ‘None of Wilder's leading characters, no matter how neat the final denouements of his films sometimes are, were ever anything but anti-heroes.’
    • ‘As the film moves to its denouement, it reverts more to formula with airborne bang-whack-pow style fights between good guy and bad.’
    • ‘The result is that the denouement of the film is nowhere near as hopeful or emotional as it should be, and the overall message is exposed as weak.’
    • ‘Like so many loosely bound thrillers, the denouement doesn't add up and the final shoot-out is farcical.’
    • ‘There is much to admire in Shakespeare's ability to combine plots and subplots of such diversity and create a dénouement in which any number of knots are blithely unraveled.’
    • ‘To explore the intricacies of the plot further would give away the denouement and spoil any pleasure that might be culled from the evening.’
    • ‘The stage was now set for the final denouement in a two-handed drama.’
    • ‘They borrowed their tropes, plots, and denouements from an American cultural tradition that included theories, artworks, and stories that linked nostalgia and extinction.’
    • ‘In the notes, you said the script was a little bit like getting a denouement of a film, rather like the third act all in one piece, and viewers have to learn about the characters as they go along.’
    • ‘The denouement of the final twist in the plot is so startling and funny that the laughter must surely have been heard above the traffic outside the theatre.’
    • ‘As the music built to a final denouement a bright city rose behind the dancers and they joyfully went to enter it.’
    • ‘As the novel reaches its denouement, the reader begins to see the astonishing mental strength of this woman.’
    • ‘The film opens with the denouement, the murder-suicide, and then recounts the events that preceded it.’
    • ‘Many critics complained about the prolonged denouement of the film, which is not fair because they seem to yield to reflex rather than judge by merit.’
    • ‘There's nothing like seeing two improbably beautiful people fall in love, fight, and reach a film's dénouement together.’
    finale, final scene, final act, last act, epilogue, coda, end, ending, finish, close
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    1. 1.1 The outcome of a situation, when something is decided or made clear:
      ‘I waited by the eighteenth green to see the denouement’
      • ‘Being grounded in the basics of law, the legal battle which started from the Paravur Municipal Court, had a successful denouement at the Supreme Court.’
      • ‘You think journalists are being more impatient with the outcome, waiting for denouement, than the public is?’
      • ‘I've decided that I will share here with readers the entire progress of one applicant's exchange of correspondence with the agency in regards to a claim, the genesis and discussion of the matter, and the dénouement.’
      • ‘Cassady's situation has the ironies of a contrived novelistic denouement.’
      • ‘This also means that in the court of public opinion the tournament director stands totally vindicated by the way the championship has unfolded regardless of its remaining finals' denouements.’
      • ‘When we believe our own storyline, as if it were a novel that will reach its climax and denouement in tidy fashion, we delude ourselves.’
      • ‘New generations would tell and retell the story of the Revolution itself, with different accounts of the rising action, climax, and dénouement, and with different heroes and villains.’
      • ‘It could well be the precipitating event for the final denouement in this extraordinary period of financial history.’
      outcome, upshot, consequence, result, end result, end, ending, termination, culmination, climax
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Mid 18th century: French dénouement, from dénouer unknot.