de·​base | \ di-ˈbās How to pronounce debase (audio) , dē- \
debased; debasing; debases

Definition of debase

transitive verb

1 : to lower in status, esteem, quality, or character debased himself by lying to his supporters … a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to outlaw debasing the American flag.Time This is not to say that you should be prepared to debase camping standards.The Scout Leader's Handbook
2a : to reduce the intrinsic value of (a coin) by increasing the base-metal content
b : to reduce the exchange value of (a monetary unit)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from debase

debasement \ di-​ˈbās-​mənt How to pronounce debase (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
debaser \ di-​ˈbā-​sər How to pronounce debase (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for debase

debase, vitiate, deprave, corrupt, debauch, pervert mean to cause deterioration or lowering in quality or character. debase implies a loss of position, worth, value, or dignity. commercialism has debased the holiday vitiate implies a destruction of purity, validity, or effectiveness by allowing entrance of a fault or defect. a foreign policy vitiated by partisanship deprave implies moral deterioration by evil thoughts or influences. the claim that society is depraved by pornography corrupt implies loss of soundness, purity, or integrity. the belief that bureaucratese corrupts the language debauch implies a debasing through sensual indulgence. the long stay on a tropical isle had debauched the ship's crew pervert implies a twisting or distorting from what is natural or normal. perverted the original goals of the institute

Did you know?

Debase is often used to talk about someone's lowered status or character. People are constantly blustering about the debased tastes of the ordinary American, and especially the debased music of America's youth. A commentator might observe that both candidates had managed to debase themselves by the end of a political campaign. Debase has a special meaning in economics: From time to time, governments find that they need to quietly debase their countries' currency by reducing the percentage of valuable metal in its coins; if they don't, the metal may become more valuable than the coin and people will begin melting the coins down and reselling the metal.

Examples of debase in a Sentence

The governor debased himself by lying to the public. The holiday has been debased by commercialism.
Recent Examples on the Web The Milk Crate Challenge, like planking, or the Harlem Shake, or the countless other challenges that came before it, encouraged young people to violently debase themselves on camera for a small chance to enter Internet Valhalla. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 10 Sep. 2021 The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Pete Rizzo, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2021 Governments need and want to know where the money is, need to control it, debase it, confiscate it, know how much is in play. Clem Chambers, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2021 Bitcoin is nearing record highs after more than doubling this year, partly driven by fears that major central bank easing and fiscal stimulus will debase currencies. Benjamin Stupples,, 18 Nov. 2020 Exception: the federal government, which has (c) the option to debase the currency. WSJ, 10 Sep. 2020 To let your politics be defined by loathing or adoration of a single political figure is to debase yourself. Isaac Schorr, National Review, 19 Aug. 2020 The Winklevoss Twins this week transmuted that notion into a warning for Dave Portnoy (a.k.a. Davey Day Trader): Elon Musk is plotting to debase gold through space-mining, making Bitcoin a better inflation hedge. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, 19 Aug. 2020 Borrowing another $5 trillion would surely trigger warnings that the government was debasing the dollar and inviting inflation. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debase.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of debase

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About debase

Dictionary Entries Near debase




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for debase

Last Updated

24 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Debase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for debase



English Language Learners Definition of debase

: to lower the value or reputation of (someone or something) : to make (someone or something) less respected

More from Merriam-Webster on debase

Nglish: Translation of debase for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of debase for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!