verb de·base \ di-ˈbās , dē- \
|Updated on: 30 Jun 2018

Definition of debase

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
2 a : to reduce the intrinsic value of (a coin) by increasing the base-metal content
b : to reduce the exchange value of (a monetary unit)


play \-ˈbās-mənt\ noun


play \-ˈbā-sər\ noun

Examples of debase in a Sentence

  1. The governor debased himself by lying to the public.

  2. The holiday has been debased by commercialism.

Recent Examples of debase from the Web

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.

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.

First Known Use of debase


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Synonym Discussion of 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

DEBASE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of debase for English Language Learners

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

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to beat or defeat soundly

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