de·​bris də-ˈbrē How to pronounce debris (audio)
 British usually  ˈde-(ˌ)brē
plural debris də-ˈbrēz How to pronounce debris (audio)
 British usually  ˈde-(ˌ)brēz
: 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
geology : an accumulation of fragments of rock
: something discarded : rubbish
picking up debris after the parade

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 The jet’s debris field – about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston – was discovered Monday after a multi-agency search on the ground and from the air. Jennifer Henderson, CNN, 22 Sep. 2023 Searchers later found a debris field in Williamsburg County, about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, officials said Monday evening. Josh Cradduck, NBC News, 22 Sep. 2023 Personnel from the Charleston base and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort eventually found the debris field of the F-35 in Williamsburg County, the air base shared on Sept. 18, via social media. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 22 Sep. 2023 Plastic debris from industrial waste and the breakdown of consumer goods can wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems, in part by introducing toxic chemicals to marine life. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Sep. 2023 Officials did not further specify the location of the debris field. CBS News, 18 Sep. 2023 Also, if water outlets aren’t kept properly clear of debris and vegetation, or if a dam and its spillways aren’t large enough to manage the volume in a reservoir, embankment dams are at risk of being overtopped. Lauren Leffer, Scientific American, 15 Sep. 2023 Getting the drain clear of debris will help improve your machine's efficiency and overall functionality, so don't even think about skipping this step. Patricia Shannon, Southern Living, 15 Sep. 2023 The Ocean Cleanup is on a mission to collect 90% of floating plastic pollution, including cleaning up the Great Pacific garbage patch, a collection of plastic debris and trash twice the size of Texas. Ben Tracy, CBS News, 9 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1708, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of debris was in 1708

Dictionary Entries Near debris

Cite this Entry

“Debris.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​bris də-ˈbrē How to pronounce debris (audio)
plural debris -ˈbrēz How to pronounce debris (audio)
: the remains of something broken down or destroyed : ruins
: an accumulation of fragments of rock
: something discarded : rubbish

Medical Definition


də-ˈbrē, dā-ˈ, ˈdā-ˌ, British usually ˈdeb-(ˌ)rē
plural debris
: organic waste from dead or damaged tissue
a wound obscured by blood and debrisEmergency Medicine

More from Merriam-Webster on debris

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