de·​brief (ˌ)dē-ˈbrēf How to pronounce debrief (audio)
debriefed; debriefing; debriefs

transitive verb

: to interrogate (someone, such as a pilot) usually upon return (as from a mission) in order to obtain useful information
The hostages were later debriefed by police.
: to carefully review upon completion
debrief the flight

intransitive verb

: to be interrogated for useful information following a mission, experience, etc. : to be debriefed
After each mission, … the pilots land, disarm and roll into the fuel pit. They spend another hour debriefing with Intelligence …Maria Wilhelm

Examples of debrief in a Sentence

Police debriefed the hostages upon their return. The pilot was debriefed after his flight.
Recent Examples on the Web Al-Halabi would have to spend the next several months being debriefed, but the newlyweds were still thrilled to be in each other’s company. Tamara Audi, New York Times, 4 Apr. 2024 To ensure our testing scenarios remained current, every case officer who returned from a Moscow assignment debriefed us on current techniques being deployed by the KGB. Dawn Klavon, Peoplemag, 25 Feb. 2024 In a new episode of their podcast, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, presented by Wave Sports & Entertainment, the brothers reviewed the Kansas City Chiefs' win over the Buffalo Bills, and also debriefed Jason's multiple viral moments from the evening. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 24 Jan. 2024 While debriefing the participants, whose ages ranged from 20s to 60s, Moss began to observe the four distinct characteristics of high-performing teams and recognized the business application. Sheila Callaham, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Times film critic Justin Chang and entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp, who also voted in the awards, sat down after the meeting to debrief the group’s choices. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 11 Dec. 2023 Afterward, the reader debriefed management and HR on what worked — and notes that HR is pushing to provide more breaks for all staff at next year’s conference. Karla L. Miller, Washington Post, 14 Dec. 2023 Adults who are able will be debriefed Hostages who are well enough will be allowed to leave the medical facilities. Shoshanna Solomon, WSJ, 24 Nov. 2023 Those under 12 will be met at the border by their families, the official said, while older ones will meet their families at hospitals, where they will be debriefed by security services. Hiba Yazbek, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1944, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of debrief was in 1944

Dictionary Entries Near debrief

Cite this Entry

“Debrief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​brief di-ˈbrēf How to pronounce debrief (audio)
: to question (as an astronaut) on return from a mission or assignment in order to obtain useful information

More from Merriam-Webster on debrief

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