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)

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Other Words from debase

debasement \ di-​ˈbās-​mənt How to pronounce debase (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
debaser \ di-​ˈbā-​sər How to pronounce debase (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 Governments need and want to know where the money is, need to control it, debase it, confiscate it, know how much is in play. Clem Chambers, Forbes, "Bitcoin, Britcoin: Governments Get Fear Of Missing Out," 21 Apr. 2021 Bitcoin is nearing record highs after more than doubling this year, partly driven by fears that major central bank easing and fiscal stimulus will debase currencies. Benjamin Stupples,, "Billionaire Salinas Has 10% of ‘Liquid Portfolio’ in Bitcoin," 18 Nov. 2020 Exception: the federal government, which has (c) the option to debase the currency. WSJ, "Inflation: Only Real Answer to Government Debt Bloat," 10 Sep. 2020 To let your politics be defined by loathing or adoration of a single political figure is to debase yourself. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "The Pointlessness of Anti-Romney Republicanism," 19 Aug. 2020 The Winklevoss Twins this week transmuted that notion into a warning for Dave Portnoy (a.k.a. Davey Day Trader): Elon Musk is plotting to debase gold through space-mining, making Bitcoin a better inflation hedge. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Are blockchain companies cursed with too much cash?," 19 Aug. 2020 Borrowing another $5 trillion would surely trigger warnings that the government was debasing the dollar and inviting inflation. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, "The Nordic Way to Economic Rescue," 28 Mar. 2020 The Wall Street Journal editorial board this week accused him of debasing his office with his shameful tweets about the death of a young woman who once worked for a media critic of his—signed an executive order to do away with the exemptions. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "I don’t like Section 230 either, but Trump’s attempt to remove it is still wrong," 29 May 2020 That so lofty a goal might be debased by Giuliani’s machinations to influence U.S. elections disgusted some of these officials. Steve Coll, The New Yorker, "Impeachment Goes Public," 3 Nov. 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.

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First Known Use of debase

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for debase

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Debase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for debase



English Language Learners Definition of debase

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

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