Meaning of deus ex machina in English:

deus ex machina


  • An unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.

    ‘In Racine's account it is this second Iphigenia who sacrifices herself; in this way Racine avoided the deus ex machina of Diana's appearance in Euripides' tragedy.’
    • ‘And thus the too-good-to-be-true ending is not only useful flattery of the king, but also a deus ex machina so blatant the author surely wants us to disbelieve it.’
    • ‘But for the grace of the deus ex machina, Measure for Measure would have turned into King Lear.’
    • ‘Although spectacular, resolving an otherwise kitchen-sink drama with a deus ex machina in the form of a ghost is not emotionally satisfying.’
    • ‘In this story, the ‘semantic categorical imperative’ suddenly appears on the scene like a deus ex machina that magically transforms egoism into non-selfishness.’
    • ‘Paul Sheldon was able to pull it off without a deus ex machina; Stephen King was not.’
    • ‘It starts out OK, with a portentous and intriguing set up, but gets steadily cheesier and more melodramatic, until the author pulls out a genuine deus ex machina for the ending.’
    • ‘Thankfully, at this point, it appears that I abandoned the poem, perhaps because of the ridiculous deus ex machina at the end.’
    • ‘What is nice is that the technology is an inherent part of the plot, rather than a handy deus ex machina to lift our hero out of trouble when the writers get into a corner.’
    • ‘Despite fearful odds, the end is usually ‘happy’, if only by the contrivance of a deus ex machina.’
    • ‘Their driving passion isn't a deus ex machina at the end of time that sets the world right and cleans up the mistakes of the first creation.’
    • ‘Does Scripture imply an omnipotent deus ex machina who intervenes in the historical world to put a stop to all human evil?’
    • ‘Ghost lineages are frankly a contrived solution, a deus ex machina required by the cladistic method.’
    • ‘There's also the problem that's dogged the Harry Potter series from the beginning - the deus ex machina.’
    • ‘I believed that these characters, relying on practical skills honed over many years of experience and not special effects or the deus ex machina of a less confident screenwriter, could pull these jobs in real life and not just in a movie.’
    • ‘Luxuriate in this play's juicy layers of allusion and allegory, timely commentary and postmodern theatrical gags: from audience participation to a modern-day deus ex machina.’
    • ‘This engaging tale develops its characters subtly and skilfully and has an improbable but enjoyable ending involving Capone as the deus ex machina.’
    • ‘They arrive more as a deus ex machina, as a catalyst for change, than as a barrage of special effects.’
    • ‘The end of the text is almost an easy deus ex machina and threatens to undo the work.’
    • ‘As always, the Bellamys manage to arrange a legal deus ex machina to solve the problem, packing James off to India in the process (to remain offstage until the season finale).’


deus ex machina

/ˌdeɪʊs ɛks ˈmakɪnə/ /ˌdiːəs ɛks məˈʃiːnə/


Late 17th century modern Latin, translation of Greek theos ek mēkhanēs, ‘god from the machinery’. In Greek theatre, actors representing gods were suspended above the stage, the denouement of the play being brought about by their intervention.