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 Bricks can be strictly, directly recycled by careful removal of mortar and other detritus. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Bricks Could Be So Much Better," 28 July 2020 Her themes are sprawling: hope, archives, classical myth, the way the detritus of the mind spills out into the world of objects. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "“Grosse Fatigue” Tells the Story of Life on Earth," 10 July 2020 Ms Maiklem spends her days on the river’s foreshore foraging for history’s detritus, from Roman pottery to Victorian clay pipes. The Economist, "Sea of troubles Covid-19 has led to a pandemic of plastic pollution," 22 June 2020 According to the agency, sea lamprey first burrow under riverbed sediment and filter feed on detritus - which more or less means decomposed matter -- before making their way to the ocean and living parasitically on other organisms as juveniles. Alec Snyder, CNN, "A 'vampire fish' is spawning in Vermont's waters. Experts say most of them are nothing to worry about," 25 June 2020 One by one, they were escorted from their station on a city block strewn with the detritus of rebellion. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "In Minneapolis, the Shocking Arrest of the Journalist Omar Jimenez Live on CNN," 29 May 2020 Nurses scrambled for supplies, wrappers and plastic gloves flipped into the air, left scattered on the hospital floor like emergency detritus. Andrew Bast, CBS News, "View from the front lines: The lives impacted by coronavirus in New York City," 14 May 2020 Using the abundant detritus, residents (mostly) and others build sculptures — a large hand emerges from the sand, a boat with an angler looks ready, if not totally seaworthy. Los Angeles Times, "Escapes: How to become one with the universe," 30 Apr. 2020 Meanwhile, detritus was piled high as Bahamians attempted to continue salvaging what was left behind. Washington Post, "Cleanup resumes in Bahamas as Humberto swirls away," 15 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for detritus

Time Traveler

The first known use of detritus was in 1802

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Detritus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detritus. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for detritus

detritus

noun
How to pronounce detritus (audio)

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)

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Nglish: Translation of detritus for Spanish Speakers

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