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 Discing and tilling erodes the topsoil via wind and runoff, whereas simply killing the existing vegetation leaves decaying debris and root systems that hold the top layer together while returning nutrients to the soil. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "How to Plant the Ultimate No-Till Food Plot," 6 July 2020 Batygin says he is intrigued by Madigan’s idea of a remote ring of debris. Ramin Skibba, Scientific American, "Planet Nine Could Be a Mirage," 5 May 2020 Dyer said the depth of the lake can run anywhere from 6 to 40 feet and the bottom of the lake has a lot of debris. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Naya Rivera disappearance: What we know," 10 July 2020 Which can lead to calls such as the aforementioned truck driver’s and complaints the city received from residents in the Boston and Grafton roads areas, reporting an abundance of fireworks debris left behind by neighbors. Brian Lisik, cleveland, "Busy but safe July 4 for Brunswick area police agencies," 7 July 2020 Additional police units arrived at the scene and issued the crowd verbal orders to disperse, but police said their efforts were again met with glass bottles and debris being thrown at them. Fox News, "NYPD searching for man seen throwing glass bottle at cop car after police respond to shots fired reports," 29 June 2020 The state that has made reducing carbon emissions a top priority is embracing the use of woody debris as part of sweeping policies that include thinning 1 million acres a year of live and dead trees. Jane Braxton Little, Wired, "The Debate Over Burning Dead Trees to Create Biomass Energy," 27 June 2020 The photo shows Cooper at the age of 60, with a manila envelope tucked under his left arm, and several other men in a desperate sprint as a massive wall of debris from the collapsing tower races up behind them. Jorge Milian, USA TODAY, "Man in famous 9/11 photo dies from COVID-19 in Florida: 'He was a fighter'," 7 July 2020 Turns out the pile of debris is actually a pile full of concrete blocks! Sydney Bucksbaum,, "The Challenge: Total Madness recap: Double elimination ends in tears," 2 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for debris

Time Traveler

The first known use of debris was in 1708

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Statistics for debris

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Debris.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for debris


How to pronounce debris (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for debris

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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