detritus

noun
de·​tri·​tus | \ di-ˈtrī-təs How to pronounce detritus (audio) \
plural detritus\ di-​ˈtrī-​təs How to pronounce detritus (audio) , -​ˈtrī-​ˌtüs \

Definition of detritus

1 geology : loose material (such as rock fragments or organic particles) that results directly from disintegration
2a : a product of disintegration, destruction, or wearing away : debris
b : miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends still picking up detritus from the block party … sifting through the detritus of his childhood …— Michael Tomasky

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Other Words from detritus

detrital \ di-​ˈtrī-​tᵊl How to pronounce detrital (audio) \ adjective

How Do You Pronounce detritus?

After the first hard freeze of fall, gardens are sadly littered with the detritus of the summer's plants and produce: stalks, leaves, vines, rotted vegetables, and maybe even a hand trowel left behind. As the flooding Mississippi River retreats back to its ordinary course, it leaves detritus behind in its wake, debris gathered from everywhere by the raging waters. The detritus of civilization may include junkyards and abandoned buildings; mental detritus may include all kinds of useless trivia. Notice how this word is pronounced; for some reason, people often try to accent the first syllable rather than the second.

Examples of detritus in a Sentence

the detritus of ancient civilizations As he packed, he sifted through the detritus of a failed relationship.

Recent Examples on the Web

Novelty telephones in the shape of Garfield the cat, dating from the 1980s, regularly show up as detritus on the shores of Brittany. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "A 35-Year-Old Garfield Novelty Telephone Mystery Has Been Solved," 29 Mar. 2019 Apart from the obvious—follow the instructions on the can!—Hayfield says to make sure your surface is fairly smooth before applying, which means sanding off any loose, blistered, or peeling paint, rust particles, or other detritus. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "Ready For A Paint Makeover? Here's What You Need To Know About Primer," 16 Jan. 2019 Besides directional stability, another jet-drive issue has been the tendency for the pumps to clog with detritus in the water. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Testing the Yamaha 210 FSH: The Boat That Blew Up the Formula," 31 Aug. 2018 There must’ve been a storm or something freaky going on with the tides, because Pemaquid Harbor is clogged with floating detritus—sea weed, branches, kelp. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Testing the Yamaha 210 FSH: The Boat That Blew Up the Formula," 31 Aug. 2018 Many see it as a helpful way to get rid of detritus for free. 5. Katherine Lagomarsino, Country Living, "The 6 Best Places to Find and Buy Reclaimed Wood, According to Experts," 13 June 2018 The law requires that the detritus from a sector not fill more than 3.8 square inches. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Vanishing City," 13 Aug. 2018 The light color of the craters stood in bold contrast to the gray/green/brown carpet of aquatic vegetation, limbs, leaves and other detritus. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "June spawn signals peak in Texas sunfish action," 3 June 2018 The open, modular floor plans are filled with the delectable detritus of a lifetime of thinking and designing: African masks, bright Afghan textiles, little prototypes for toys never built. Reif Larsen, The Seattle Times, "LA Reverential: A City’s Chill Spots," 1 Aug. 2018

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

1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for detritus

French détritus, from Latin detritus, past participle of deterere — see detriment

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Statistics for detritus

Last Updated

21 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detritus

The first known use of detritus was in 1802

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More Definitions for detritus

detritus

noun

English Language Learners Definition of detritus

formal : the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, is destroyed, etc.

detritus

noun
de·​tri·​tus | \ di-ˈtrīt-əs How to pronounce detritus (audio) \
plural detritus\ -​ˈtrīt-​əs How to pronounce detritus (audio) , -​ˈtrī-​ˌtüs How to pronounce detritus (audio) \

Medical Definition of detritus

: loose material resulting from disintegration (as of tissue)

More from Merriam-Webster on detritus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detritus

Nglish: Translation of detritus for Spanish Speakers

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