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

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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

This proved useful for weather reconnaissance and, around the world, to sample the upper atmosphere for evidence of nuclear debris where US officials suspected the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Three high-flying birds soar together for the first time since the 1970s," 11 Nov. 2018 Piles of garbage and all kinds of plastic debris have washed up on roads and side streets in Manila following a deluge of rain over the weekend. Christopher Carbone, Fox News, "Waves of garbage crash ashore in stunning footage," 15 Aug. 2018 Seminole County officials have advised boaters on the St. Johns River to use caution by decreasing speeds, being mindful of debris in the water and watch out for low bridge clearances while water is high. Stephen Hudak,, "Flood warning remains in effect for Geneva, St. Johns River," 6 July 2018 In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, almost half the weight of surface debris is fishing gear, according to a 2017 study by Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer with the Ocean Cleanup Foundation. National Geographic, "These Communities Turn Discarded Fishing Nets Into Carpets," 13 June 2018 The smallest and lightest specks of radioactive debris would meanwhile rise high into the atmosphere, circling the Earth many times before returning to the ground in rain or snow. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 If something gets in your eye like eyelid skin flakes or eye crust, blinking is a natural reflex to try to get rid of that debris, Dr. Massaro-Giordano says. Korin Miller, SELF, "10 Symptoms of Blepharitis, a Bizarre Condition That Can Affect Your Eyes," 7 June 2018 At times, as many as 100 trucks a day have poured tons of construction debris into a steep ravine. Anh Do,, "Judge sides with L.A. County against illegal dumping in the hills above Chatsworth," 5 June 2018 Space junk is a growing problem—the European Space Agency estimates that there are over 750,000 pieces of debris in space over one centimeter big. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Watch a Space Junk Harpoon Complete a Successful Test Shot," 15 Feb. 2019

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

17 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for debris

The first known use of debris was in 1708

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on debris

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with debris

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for debris

Spanish Central: Translation of debris

Nglish: Translation of debris for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of debris for Arabic Speakers

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