Definition of deconstruct in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Analyze (a text or a linguistic or conceptual system) by deconstruction, typically in order to expose its hidden internal assumptions and contradictions and subvert its apparent significance or unity.

    • ‘At first glance, Ann Allen Shockley's novel, Loving Her, appears to be a postmodern novel that deconstructs dominant ideologies of race, gender, and sexuality.’
    • ‘Balfour deconstructs Coleridge's affirmation of the symbol and symbolic politics by pointing to the allegorical style of his political rhetoric.’
    • ‘Moreover, don't these choices facilitate a feminist reading of the text, deconstructing sentimentality to expose masculine failings and feminine rebellion?’
    • ‘Deconstructing the novel becomes a metaphor for deconstructing Western metaphysics.’
    • ‘Worse still, whereas literature was once valued for the beauty of its language or its moral impact, the purpose of reading is now to deconstruct texts in terms of power relationships.’
    analyse, examine, study, inspect, scrutinize, probe, explore, pore over, investigate, sift, delve into, go over with a fine-tooth comb
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    1. 1.1 Reduce (something) to its constituent parts in order to reinterpret it.
      ‘do we need to deconstruct all the institutions that we've created in order to improve them?’
      • ‘For example, who could pick up a scientific paper and pull apart its conclusions, deconstruct its methodology, even understand what the bloody hell it is on about?’
      • ‘To prevent the oppression of women, it is necessary to deconstruct the institutions through men control women - institutions such as the free market’
      • ‘After laying down the melody, he proceeded to deconstruct it, pulling it into new shapes, twisting, fragmenting, yet never losing touch with his starting point.’
      • ‘Why isn't Bill Gates trying to deconstruct the same system that made him wealthy?’
      • ‘Families, relationships and institutions are constructed and deconstructed.’
      • ‘If so, then the problem has not yet been deconstructed to a level basic enough to allow exhaustive investigation.’
      • ‘No Wave was about using the very building block of music (units of sound) to create and convey, or deconstruct and destroy what we knew about rock and roll.’
      • ‘In other words, he used common sense to deconstruct rhetorical falsehoods, pulling apart the suffocating mesh of collectivist lies one carefully observed thread at a time.’
      • ‘We will deconstruct this document from PDF back into text, and we will be in a position to supply the entire text of this document.’
      • ‘In reaction to this sort of perspective, cultural studies theorists tried to destroy or deconstruct the distinction between high art and popular culture.’
      take apart, take to pieces, take to bits, pull apart, pull to pieces, disassemble, break up, strip, strip down
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Late 19th century: back-formation from deconstruction.