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debacle Line breaks: de|bacle
Pronunciation: /deɪˈbɑːk(ə)l/

Definition of debacle in English:


A sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco: the only man to reach double figures in the second-innings debacle
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, disintegration, mess, wreck, ruin;
downfall, collapse, defeat, rout, overthrow, conquest, trouncing
informal foul-up, screw-up, hash, botch, washout, fail
British informal cock-up, pig's ear, car crash
North American informal snafu
vulgar slang fuck-up, balls-up


Early 19th century (in sense 'the breaking up of ice in a river'): 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.

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