Word of the Day : September 11, 2010

debacle

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noun dee-BAH-kul

Definition

1 : a tumultuous breakup of ice in a river

2 : a violent disruption (as of an army) : rout

3 a : a great disaster

b : a complete failure : fiasco

Did You Know?

"Debacle" comes from the French noun "débâcle," which comes from the verb "débâcler," meaning "to clear," "to unbolt," or "to unbar." That verb is from Middle French "desbacler," which joined the prefix "des-" (equivalent to our "de-," meaning "to do the opposite of") with the verb "bacler" ("to block"). In its original uses, "debacle" meant a breaking up of ice, or the rush of ice or water that follows such an occurrence. Eventually, "debacle" was used also to mean "a violent, destructive flood." Naturally, such uses led to meanings such as "a breaking up," "collapse," and finally "disaster" or "fiasco."


Examples

Volunteers from around the nation have joined together to aid the communities affected by the oil spill debacle.




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