debase

verb
de·​base | \ di-ˈbās How to pronounce debase (audio) , dē- \
debased; debasing; debases

Definition of debase

transitive verb

1 : to lower in status, esteem, quality, or character debased himself by lying to his supporters … a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to outlaw debasing the American flag.Time This is not to say that you should be prepared to debase camping standards.The Scout Leader's Handbook
2a : to reduce the intrinsic value of (a coin) by increasing the base-metal content
b : to reduce the exchange value of (a monetary unit)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from debase

debasement \ di-​ˈbās-​mənt How to pronounce debasement (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
debaser \ di-​ˈbā-​sər How to pronounce debaser (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for debase

debase, vitiate, deprave, corrupt, debauch, pervert mean to cause deterioration or lowering in quality or character. debase implies a loss of position, worth, value, or dignity. commercialism has debased the holiday vitiate implies a destruction of purity, validity, or effectiveness by allowing entrance of a fault or defect. a foreign policy vitiated by partisanship deprave implies moral deterioration by evil thoughts or influences. the claim that society is depraved by pornography corrupt implies loss of soundness, purity, or integrity. the belief that bureaucratese corrupts the language debauch implies a debasing through sensual indulgence. the long stay on a tropical isle had debauched the ship's crew pervert implies a twisting or distorting from what is natural or normal. perverted the original goals of the institute

Did You Know?

Debase is often used to talk about someone's lowered status or character. People are constantly blustering about the debased tastes of the ordinary American, and especially the debased music of America's youth. A commentator might observe that both candidates had managed to debase themselves by the end of a political campaign. Debase has a special meaning in economics: From time to time, governments find that they need to quietly debase their countries' currency by reducing the percentage of valuable metal in its coins; if they don't, the metal may become more valuable than the coin and people will begin melting the coins down and reselling the metal.

Examples of debase in a Sentence

The governor debased himself by lying to the public. The holiday has been debased by commercialism.
Recent Examples on the Web Trump is currently surrounded by people like Barr and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, who are willing to debase their offices to indulge Trump’s abuse of power. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump’s Ukraine Scandal Has Its Roots in Russia," 6 Oct. 2019 This is an administration that seems to know no bounds, that continues to debase and degrade the rule of law and basic principles of democracy. Breanne Kovatch, BostonGlobe.com, "Healey, advocates celebrate win on 2020 Census question, say more work needs to be done," 27 June 2019 While roundly praised by the tech commentariat, Dorsey’s decision is based on flawed premises and will further debase online political discourse. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Why Twitter’s New Restrictions on Political Advertising Make No Sense," 7 Nov. 2019 Governments can always debase their currencies, as high inflation in Argentina and Turkey shows. The Economist, "The world economyInflation is losing its meaning as an economic indicator," 10 Oct. 2019 Most disheartening of all, facts, the hard currency of truth-telling, are being debased in Trump’s post-fact world, a move that can mute the most piercing whistle. Tom Mueller, Twin Cities, "Tom Mueller: What whistleblowers have wrought, and why," 9 Oct. 2019 Art museum membership is usually pitched as a way to get admission discounts, which debases the museum enterprise as a mere commercial transaction. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "MOCA on the rebound? Three strong shows and free entry are welcome signs of change," 12 June 2019 Senate Democrats seem to be competing to debase themselves most. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Democrats Disgrace the Senate," 26 Sep. 2018 In this case, a speech — about the ugly necessity for black people to debase themselves in a white man’s world — that is usually spoken to the other characters on stage is hurled like a fireball into the audience. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Burns With New Fire," 1 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debase.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of debase

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about debase

Time Traveler for debase

Time Traveler

The first known use of debase was in 1565

See more words from the same year

Statistics for debase

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Debase.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/debase. Accessed 17 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for debase

debase

verb
How to pronounce debase (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of debase

: to lower the value or reputation of (someone or something) : to make (someone or something) less respected

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on debase

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for debase

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with debase

Spanish Central: Translation of debase

Nglish: Translation of debase for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of debase for Arabic Speakers

Comments on debase

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a plan in which a last survivor takes all

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!