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See also: débris


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from French débris, itself from dé- (de-) + bris (broken, crumbled), or from Middle French debriser (to break apart), from Old French debrisier, itself from de- + brisier (to break apart, shatter, bust), from Frankish *bristijan, *bristan, *brestan (to break violently, shatter, bust), from Proto-Germanic *brestaną (to break, burst), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrest- (to separate, burst). Cognate with Old High German bristan (to break asunder, burst), Old English berstan (to break, shatter, burst), German bersten (to burst). More at burst.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈdɛbɹiː/, /ˈdeɪbɹiː/
  • (US) IPA(key): /dəˈbɹiː/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛbɹi, -iː


debris (uncountable)

  1. Rubble, wreckage, scattered remains of something destroyed.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:debris
    • 2012 December 21, David M. Halbfinger, Charles V. Bagli and Sarah Maslin Nir, “On Ravaged Coastline, It’s Rebuild Deliberately vs. Rebuild Now”, in New York Times[1]:
      His neighbors were still ripping out debris. But Mr. Ryan, a retired bricklayer who built his house by hand 30 years ago only to lose most of it to Hurricane Sandy, was already hard at work rebuilding.
    • 2022 January 12, Benedict le Vay, “The heroes of Soham...”, in RAIL, number 948, page 43:
      But signalman Bridges was never to answer driver Gimbert's desperate question. A deafening, massive blast blew the wagon to shreds, the 44 high-explosive bombs exploding like simultaneous hits from the aircraft they should have been dropped from. The station was instantly reduced to bits of debris, and the line to a huge crater.
  2. Litter and discarded refuse.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:trash
    • 2013 July 20, “Welcome to the plastisphere”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      [The researchers] noticed many of their pieces of [plastic marine] debris sported surface pits around two microns across. Such pits are about the size of a bacterial cell. Closer examination showed that some of these pits did, indeed, contain bacteria, […].
  3. The ruins of a broken-down structure.
  4. (geology) Large rock fragments left by a melting glacier etc.


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