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noun de·ba·cle \dē-ˈbä-kəl, di-, -ˈba-; ÷ˈde-bə-kəl\

Simple Definition of debacle

  • : a great disaster or complete failure

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of debacle

  1. 1 :  a tumultuous breakup of ice in a river

  2. 2 :  a violent disruption (as of an army) :  rout

  3. 3 a :  a great disaster b :  a complete failure :  fiasco

Examples of debacle in a sentence

  1. What a debacle. Next thing he knew, one of the patients would turn up dead. —T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993

  2. So what had been intended as an orderly hearing ended in a general debacle, for as soon as Fray Domingo saw his protector dragged toward the exit door, he leaped at the guards and began pummeling them. —James A. Michener, Texas, 1985

  3. Savings themselves evaporate in the course of such a debacle and thus the very wherewithal for reversing and retrieving the situation is lost … —Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, 1984

  4. After the debacle of his first novel, he had trouble getting a publisher for his next book.

  5. <the financial debacle that was the stock market crash of 1929>

Did You Know?

Debacle comes from the French noun débâcle, which comes from the verb débâcler, meaning "to clear," "to unbolt," or "to unbar." That verb is from Middle French desbacler, which joined the prefix des- (equivalent to our de-, meaning "to do the opposite of") with the verb "bacler" ("to block"). In its original uses, "debacle" meant a breaking up of ice, or the rush of ice or water that follows such an occurrence. Eventually, "debacle" was used also to mean "a violent, destructive flood." Naturally, such uses led to meanings such as "a breaking up," "collapse," and finally "disaster" or "fiasco."

Variants of debacle

also débâcle play \also dā-ˈbäk(lə)\

Origin of debacle

French débâcle, from débâcler to clear, from Middle French desbacler, from des- de- + bacler to block, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *bacculare, from Latin baculum staff

First Known Use: 1802

Rhymes with debacle

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tending to dismiss important matters

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