deus ex machina

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Borrowed from Latin deus ex māchinā, from deus (a god) + ex (from) + machina (a device, a scaffolding, an artifice), a calque of Ancient Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós).


  • IPA(key): /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmɑːkiːnə/


Examples (contrived plot resolution)

1. The protagonist waking up, realizing it was all a dream.
2. Another hero coming in out of an unexpected place to save someone at the last second

deus ex machina (plural dei ex machina or dei ex machinis or deus ex machinas)

  1. (authorship) Any resolution to a story that does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and that is so unlikely that it challenges suspension of disbelief, and presumably allows the author, director, or developer to end the story in the way that he or she desired.
    Oh, now I'm backed into a corner, and can't devise a way out. I could sure use a deus ex machina right about now!
  2. A contrived solution to a problem, relying on an agent external to the situation.
    We used a sale of the business at a ridiculously high multiple to make the numbers work, a deus ex machina.
  3. (historical) A machine used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage, either up through a trapdoor or (e.g. by crane) from above.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Rarely, the plurals dii ex machina, di ex machina, dii ex machinis and di ex machinis are found.
  • The plurals ending in ex machina literally translate to “gods from a machine”, whereas the plurals ending in ex machinis literally translate to “gods from machines”; in their usage, these plurals generally retain this distinction in sense, however figuratively.

Related terms[edit]




Calque of Ancient Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós).


  • (Classical) IPA(key): /ˈ eks ˈmaː.kʰi.naː/, [ˈd̪e.ʊs̠ ɛks̠ ˈmaː.kʰɪ.naː]
  • (Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /ˈ eks ˈ, [ˈd̪ɛː.us ɛks ˈmaː]


deus ex māchinā

  1. deus ex machina



deus ex machina m (plural deuses ex machina or dei ex machina)

  1. (narratology) deus ex machina (contrived plot resolution)

Related terms[edit]