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deus ex machina

1. A god in an ancient Greek or Roman play that suddenly appears in the storyline in order to solve a problem or decide an outcome. The Latin phrase translates to "god from a machine," referring to the machinery that lowered it onto the stage. The ancient Greek play makes use of a deus ex machina in which Apollo arrives on stage to restore order among the other characters.
2. By extension, some narrative element that concludes the story or resolves a conflict in a way that seems too contrived and convenient to be believable. Suddenly, when all hope seems lost for the main characters, an alien sets down and gives them everything they need to survive. Talk about deus ex machina! Modern critics tend to pan 1980s-era television shows for the typical deus ex machina that writers often used to neatly wrap up episodes.
See also: ex


slang One's former spouse or romantic partner. All my money goes toward my ex's alimony every month.

ex cathedra

With the authority that comes with one's position. This phrase is often used in reference to papal decrees deemed infallible. It is Latin for "from the chair," and can be used as both an adjective and an adverb. This is an ex cathedra statement from the pope, and the Catholic Church must abide by it. The CEO was speaking ex cathedra when he made this announcement, so we need to change our approach immediately.
See also: ex

ex gratia

A payment made as a kind gesture, not due to a legal obligation. This phrase is always used before a noun. Yes, I make ex gratia payments to my ex-wife—I want our divorce to stay amicable.
See also: ex

ex out

To draw an ex (X) or series of exes over some written word or name so as to designate its removal or need to be disregarded. A noun or pronoun can be used between "ex" and "out." A: "Why is Amy's name exed out?" B: "Because she's not coming on the field trip anymore." Just ex out all of the words that you feel need to be deleted in the next draft.
See also: ex, out


A common mispronunciation and subsequent misspelling of "et cetera," a Latin phrase literally meaning "and the others," used to allude to or include other similar things without naming them directly. We want you to write about trendy, eye-catching topics. Celebrity gossip, fashion trends, excetera. A: "We produce high-quality images you can use for your company's website, social media accounts, marketing materials, excetera." B: "You mean 'et cetera,' right?" A: "Yeah, why? What did I say?"

exed out

slang Hyphenated if used before a noun.
1. Of an image or piece of text, having an ex (X) or series of exes drawn over it. Hyphenated if used before a noun. The exed-out sections of the map represent areas where we have already completed our search. The teacher caught the student drawing a picture of the principal with his eyes exed out.
2. Removed or eliminated from something. That single mistake in my application got me exed out from the competition. The passage ended up exed out of the movie due to censorship laws.
3. Killed. You oughta know better than to mouth off to a gangster like him. You're gonna end up getting exed out one of these days!
See also: ex, out

smooth move, Ex-Lax

Wow, what a really clumsy, ignorant, or foolish thing to do or say! (Ex-Lax is the brand name for a type of laxative, which helps promote bowel movements.) Primarily heard in US. Smooth move, Ex-Lax! Thanks to your insulting remarks, they've decided not to invest in the project! The plates all crashed to the floor as I slipped on the spilled wine, and someone in the corner of the restaurant shouted out, "Smooth move, Ex-Lax!"
See also: smooth
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.


n. a former spouse or lover. My ex is in town, but we don’t talk much anymore.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

ex cathedra

With authority like that of the Pope. The expression, Latin words meaning “from the chair,” literally refers to the doctrine of papal infallibility, whereby the Pope, in statements on faith and morals, cannot be wrong. It began to be used figuratively in the early nineteenth century. “He was a great lover of form, more especially when he could dictate it ex cathedra” (Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy, 1818).
See also: ex
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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