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de·​bauch di-ˈbȯch How to pronounce debauch (audio)
debauched; debauching; debauches

transitive verb

: to corrupt by intemperance or sensuality
debauched poets
a debauched society
: to lead away from virtue or excellence
debauched by ambition
factory methods … debauched Victorian designCountry Life
: to seduce from chastity
notorious for debauching young women
archaic : to make disloyal
debaucher noun


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: an act or occasion of extreme indulgence in sensuality or carnal pleasures : an act or occasion of debauchery
: orgy
a debauch of pleasure
Choose the Right Synonym for debauch

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

Examples of debauch in a Sentence

Verb the long stay on a tropical isle had debauched the ship's crew to the point where they no longer acted like naval professionals
Recent Examples on the Web
On the evidence of this savage industry satire, the experience was souring, dehumanizing and debauching. Matt Brennan, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2024 Snook plays not just the eternally young but damnably debauched Dorian Gray, but every one of the 26 parts in two unbroken hours of ceaselessly kinetic, highly choreographed, tech-heavy action. Demetrios Matheou, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 As debauched and dirty as our film is, it’s still done so intentionally and tastefully. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 6 July 2023 That voice — languid, searching, slightly debauched — was once the centerpiece of a complete and holistic text. James Robins, Vulture, 1 May 2023 Despite its enduring popularity, the mojito is saddled with a bit of a bad reputation among cocktail cognoscenti: Overzealous bartenders often debauch it with too much sugar, too much booze, or fruit and other flavors, misdeeds that add more color than coherence. Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, 1 Mar. 2022 The medical community and laypersons alike often blamed victims of the disease for their own suffering, believing that vicious, debauched, and unhygienic lifestyles begat typhus. Timothy Kent Holliday, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Apr. 2020 His voice is chirpy-thin, making his stories of debauched after-hours excess sound like child’s play. New York Times, 9 May 2018 Given this is a bachelorette party, though, her activities are sure to be slightly more debauched — perhaps something fun with vaginal jade eggs? Amanda Arnold, The Cut, 11 Apr. 2018
Itaewon was spawned as a bawdy nightlife district adjacent to the U.S. military barracks, whose carousing GIs inevitably lent a reputation for sleaze and debauch. TIME, 26 Oct. 2023 But this year, the island is celebrating much more than Ernest Hemingway’s six-toed cats, Duval Street pub crawls or a Fantasy Fest debauch. Gwen Filosa,, 22 Mar. 2022 After the fashion industry disgraced itself by banishing Melania Trump, this latest debauch comes as no surprise. Armond White, National Review, 10 Mar. 2021 Take a break from taking a break with a long debauch at the Chateau Marmont? Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2020 In stark contrast to Mr Sehic’s debauches, hundreds of starving Bosniaks, led by small numbers of armed men, raid surrounding Serb villages for food. The Economist, 3 Oct. 2019 Pain and Glory Rated R for language, recreational drug use and remembrance of debauches past. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 3 Oct. 2019 Hot Springs was a wild town in those days—a spa for rich northerners, a debauch of illegal gambling, fancy nightclubs, and the Oaklawn racetrack. Joe Klein, Daily Intelligencer, 30 June 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'debauch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from French débaucher "to divert or distract (a person) from work, obligations, etc., tempt into excess or immorality," going back to Middle French, "to cause (a servant, worker) to leave his master's service," going back to Old French desbauchier "to scatter, disperse (people, a crowd)," presumably from an earlier sense "to rough-hew a beam from a larger log" (hence, "to split, separate") from des- dis- + -bauchier, verbal derivative of bauch (Walloon, Picard) "beam," borrowed from Old Low Franconian *balk-, going back to Germanic *balkōn "beam" — more at balk entry 2


borrowed from French débauche, noun derivative of débaucher "to divert or distract (a person) from work, obligations, etc., tempt into excess or immorality" — more at debauch entry 1

First Known Use


1595, in the meaning defined at sense 2b


1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of debauch was in 1595

Dictionary Entries Near debauch

Cite this Entry

“Debauch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
de·​bauch di-ˈbȯch How to pronounce debauch (audio)
: to lead away from virtue or morality : corrupt
debaucher noun


2 of 2 noun
: an act, occasion, or period of debauchery

More from Merriam-Webster on debauch

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