Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

debacle

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

Simple Definition of debacle

  • : a great disaster or complete failure

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

  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>



Variants of debacle

also dé·bâ·cle 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



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up debacle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image33683556

How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

2.2 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ