deus ex machina

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 deus ex machina on Wikipedia


Unadapted borrowing from Latin deus ex māchinā (literally god from a machine, i.e., a device, a scaffolding, an artifice), from Ancient Greek.


  • IPA(key): /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmækɪnə/


Examples (contrived plot resolution)
  • The protagonist waking up, realizing it was all a dream
  • 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 they desired.
    • 2007 August 12, Christopher Hitchens, “Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived”, in New York Times[1]:
      The repeated tactic of deus ex machina (without a deus) has a deplorable effect on both the plot and the dialogue.
    • 2011 January 20, Dave Thier, “‘Parks and Recreation’: Comedy Imitates Life (Sort Of)”, in The Atlantic[2]:
      Despite the government shutdown, at the end of the last season Knope is able to put on a children's concert in the abandoned lot she's been trying to turn into a park due to a quick deus ex machina.
    • 2017 June 26, David Sims, “How Will ‘Silicon Valley’ Work Without T.J. Miller?”, in The Atlantic[3]:
      Compared to that, the season-four finale “Server Error” felt comparatively tame, focusing mostly on Richard’s maniacal efforts to create a new kind of internet, which were helped along by a confusing deus ex machina.
  2. (by extension) A contrived solution to a problem, relying on an agent external to the situation.
    • 2017 August 14, David A. Graham, “The Search for a Magical Way to Stop Trump”, in The Atlantic[4]:
      Handler’s bad advice for generals [] is mostly notable as the most extreme expression of peculiar pleas by Trump opponents who seek some deus ex machina that will stop the president: generals simply disobeying the president, other civil servants refusing to follow through on orders, or even the invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
  3. (historical, literary) A deity in Greek and Roman drama who was brought in by stage machinery to intervene in a difficult situation[1] (i.e., to resolve a crisis, or untangle issues surrounding it, a character logically expected to do so).
    • 1959, Mary Stewart, chapter XVII, in Nine Coaches Waiting, M. S. Mill Company, page 268:
      I was going to wait for Monsieur Hyppolyte and, like a craven, hand the whole thing over to him. Let the deus ex machina fly in out of the clouds...
  4. (historical) A machine used to bring an actor playing a god 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.

Coordinate terms[edit]



  1. ^ American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1982, page 388.



deus ex machina m (strong, genitive deus ex machina, plural (uncommon) dei ex machina)

  1. Alternative form of Deus ex Machina




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


  • (Classical) IPA(key): /ˈ eks ˈmaː.kʰi.naː/, [ˈd̪eʊs̠ ɛks̠ ˈmäːkʰɪnäː]
  • (Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /ˈ eks ˈ, [ˈd̪ɛːus ɛks ˈmäːkinä]


deus ex māchinā

  1. deus ex machina


Polish Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia pl


Unadapted borrowing from Latin deus ex māchinā, itself a calque of Ancient Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēkhanês theós).



deus ex machina (not comparable)

  1. (literary) deus ex machina (suddenly, unexpectedly, and without prior indications)


deus ex machina m pers (indeclinable)

  1. (Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, drama, historical, literary) deus ex machina (plot resolution in ancient tragedy involving the sudden and unexpected appearance of a deity)
  2. (Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, drama, historical, literary) deus ex machina (deity in Greek and Roman drama who was brought in by stage machinery to intervene in a difficult situation)
  3. (literary) deus ex machina (unexpected saviour)
  4. (literary, narratology) deus ex machina (contrived plot resolution)

Further reading[edit]



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

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

Related terms[edit]