Definition of debacle in English:

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Pronunciation: /dāˈbäk(ə)l/
Pronunciation: /dəˈbäk(ə)l/


A sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco: the economic debacle that became known as the Great Depression
More example sentences
  • I caution you however, to mention that the left cannot afford any more debacles that could have easily been prevented by fact checking.
  • Often the films in question turn into debacles.
  • The debacle at Gallipoli meant the war ministry in London needed a propaganda success.
fiasco, failure, catastrophe, disaster, mess, ruin;
downfall, collapse, defeat
informal foul-up, screw-up, hash, botch, washout, snafu


Early 19th century: from French débâcle, from débâcler 'unleash', from dé- 'un-' + bâcler 'to bar' (from Latin baculum 'staff').

  • bacterium from mid 19th century:

    This modern Latin term is formed from Greek baktērion ‘little staff’; the first bacteria to be discovered were rod-shaped. The word bacillus (late 19th century), a pathogenic bacterium, also meant ‘little rod’ in late Latin. Bacillus is also behind the French word debacle, adopted into English in the early 19th century. It literally means an unbarring and was first used of the breaking of ice or other blockage in a river and its effects, and then transferred to human behaviour.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·ba·cle

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