Denouement is a rather beautiful literary term describing the final part of a story. The word was first borrowed in 1752 from French dénouement, which meant "untying". That has the suffix -ment, which was used to form nouns, and the verb dénouer, which was composed of the negating prefix des- and the root nouer, meaning "tie" or "knot". Des-, through Latin dis, derives from the Proto-Indo-European root dis, which meant "apart". Nouer traces to Latin nodus, which is the etymon of node and meant "knot" (ultimately coming from Proto-Indo-European ned, "to bind" or "to tie"). After it was popularized in the nineteenth century, use of the word denouement in literature over time has continually trended upwards, peaking in the 1920s. Interestingly, Google searches for the word spike every September, presumably when language classes assign it for memorization.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.