de·bris | \də-ˈbrē, dā-ˈ, ˈdā-ˌ, British usually ˈde-(ˌ)brē\
plural debris\-ˈbrēz, -ˌbrēz \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

One pedestrian was hit by debris and has minor injuries. Sarah Brookbank,, "Police: NB Central Parkway shut down after driver falls asleep, crashes into pole," 11 July 2018 The water can contain debris and contaminants that are detrimental to your health. Rafael Guerrero, Elgin Courier-News, "Fox River, neighborhood flooding reported in and around Elgin," 27 June 2018 Possible wind impact on mortar flight and post explosion debris fields. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Cave Creek cancels popular fireworks show over wildfire concerns; business leaders furious," 18 June 2018 Using shovels and backhoes, emergency workers dug through the debris and mud, perilous labor on smoldering terrain still hot enough to melt shoe soles a day after the volcano exploded in a hail of ash, smoke and molten rock. Sonia Perez D., The Seattle Times, "Guatemala volcano death toll up to 69, expected to rise," 4 June 2018 Soon after the plane crashed at about 2:50 p.m., the police department said, a debris field was located approximately 1.5 miles south of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, "Search Suspended in Plane Crash That Killed ‘Contractor to the Stars’," 3 June 2018 The storm sparked last-minute runs on supplies, clogged evacuation routes, mass bewilderment, mountains of debris and needless death. David Whitley,, "Will Central Florida learn Irma's lessons?," 1 June 2018 The tiny lesions, which contain buildup from cell debris and calcium, even eroded through her conjunctival surface... and could have blinded her permanently., "You'll Never Fall Asleep With Mascara On Again After Seeing This," 31 May 2018 One exploded in the yard of a kindergarten, damaging its walls and scattering the playground with debris and shrapnel, about an hour before it was scheduled to open for the day. Amir Cohen And Nidal Al-mughrabi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Gaza escalates attacks, Israel responds with airstrikes," 29 May 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about debris

Statistics for debris

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for debris

The first known use of debris was in 1708

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on debris

What made you want to look up debris? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!