Word of the Day Archive
Sunday June 10, 2001
denouement \day-noo-MAWN\ , noun:
1. The final resolution of the main complication of a literary or dramatic work.
2. The outcome of a complex sequence of events.
And perhaps this helps to explain the frequency of the violent denouement in contemporary novels: in the country that embraced the slogan "Today is the first day of the rest of your life," how do you call it quits on a character who is still breathing?
-- Brad Leithauser, "You Haven't Heard the Last of This", New York Times, August 30, 1998
Of course, the crusaders were losers in the short run, but Europe's storytellers have traditionally awarded them the righteous victory and not dwelt on the embarrassing denouement.
-- Todd Gitlin, The Twilight of Common Dreams
Though still only a prospect on the horizon, this, I think, could well be the next revolution. What a denouement if it is!
-- Julian Barbour, The End of Time
Denouement is from French, from Old French denoer, "to untie," from Latin de- + nodare, "to tie in a knot," from nodus, "a knot."