1690-1700; < Neo-Latin literally, god from a machine (i.e., stage machinery from which a deity's statue was lowered), as translation of Greekapò mēchanês theós (Demosthenes), theòs ek mēchanês (Menander), etc.
1690s, from Mod.L. translation of Gk. theos ek mekhanes, lit. "the god from the machina," the device by which "gods" were suspended over the stage in Gk. theater (see machine). The fem. is dea ex machina.