A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings.
An analytic method, esp. of literary criticism, originated in France in the mid-20th cent. and based on a theory that, by the very nature of language and usage, no text can have a fixed, coherent meaning.
Deconstruction is defined as a way of analyzing literature that assumes that text cannot have a fixed meaning.
An example of deconstruction is reading a novel twice, 20 years apart, and seeing how it has a different meaning each time.