de·​bris | \ də-ˈbrē How to pronounce debris (audio) , dā-ˈbrē, ˈdā-ˌbrē, British usually ˈde-(ˌ)brē \
plural debris\ də-​ˈbrēz How to pronounce debris (audio) , dā-​ˈbrēz , ˈdā-​ˌbrēz , British usually  ˈde-​(ˌ)brēz \

Definition of debris

1 : the remains of something broken down or destroyed digging through the storm's debris in search of survivors sifted through the debris of her broken marriage
2 geology : an accumulation of fragments of rock
3 : something discarded : rubbish picking up debris after the parade

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Examples of debris in a Sentence

After the earthquake, rescuers began digging through the debris in search of survivors. Everything was covered by dust and debris.
Recent Examples on the Web While there was a minuscule chance of the debris hitting populated areas, the episode has raised the issue of responsible space behavior, with China ramping up its space program and private corporations globally engaging in space activity. Natasha Khan, WSJ, "Chinese Rocket Returns to Earth Over Indian Ocean," 9 May 2021 Some experts say several tons of debris could have survived the fall to Earth’s surface intact, including heavier components like tanks or engine parts. Joe Walsh, Forbes, "That Massive Chinese Rocket Just Fell To Earth," 9 May 2021 The section was roughly 100 feet long and and is among the biggest pieces of space debris to fall to Earth. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "After days of uncertainty, Chinese rocket reenters atmosphere over Indian Ocean," 9 May 2021 But China’s growing space program has contributed to the growing problem of space debris. Washington Post, "World awaits Chinese rocket to reenter the atmosphere, not knowing where it will land," 8 May 2021 Citing local reports, SpaceNews said at the time that pieces of debris as long as 12 meters (39 feet) landed in Cote d’Ivoire. Fortune, "No one knows where China’s tumbling rocket will land on Saturday," 6 May 2021 Nearly 100,000 residents were left without power as crews, who were warned and had prepared, struggled to clear roads of debris and navigate up and through the mountainous terrain to reach power poles and restore electricity to residents. NBC News, "West Virginia utility companies have spent millions to mitigate power outages. Why do they keep happening?," 6 May 2021 Even the biggest satellites produce a comparatively tiny amount of debris. Author: Christian Davenport, Matthew Cappucci, Anchorage Daily News, "Pentagon tracks Chinese rocket booster as it falls back toward Earth," 6 May 2021 Citing local reports, SpaceNews said at the time that pieces of debris as long as 12 meters (39 feet) landed in Cote d’Ivoire., "Tumbling Chinese rocket expected to reenter atmosphere today," 6 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debris.' 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 debris

1708, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for debris

French débris, from Middle French, from debriser to break to pieces, from Old French debrisier, from de- + brisier to break, of Celtic origin; akin to Old Irish brisid he breaks; perhaps akin to Latin fricare to rub — more at friction

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Statistics for debris

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Debris.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for debris



English Language Learners Definition of debris

: the pieces that are left after something has been destroyed
: things (such as broken pieces and old objects) that are lying where they fell or that have been left somewhere because they are not wanted


de·​bris | \ də-ˈbrē How to pronounce debris (audio) \
plural debris\ -​ˈbrēz \

Kids Definition of debris

: the junk or pieces left from something broken down or destroyed


de·​bris | \ də-ˈbrē, dā-ˈ, ˈdā-ˌ, British usually ˈdeb-(ˌ)rē \
plural debris

Medical Definition of debris

: organic waste from dead or damaged tissue a wound obscured by blood and debrisEmergency Medicine

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