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).


  • IPA(key): /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmækɪnə/


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, 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). For example, 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.
    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....[2]

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.
  2. ^ Stewart, Mary (1916–2014), “Chapter XVII”, in Nine Coaches Waiting, M. S. Mill Company, 1 January 1959, page 268.




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



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

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

Related terms[edit]