Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sudden, disastrous collapse, downfall, or defeat; a rout.
  • n. A total, often ludicrous failure.
  • n. The breaking up of ice in a river.
  • n. A violent flood.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An event or enterprise that ends suddenly and disastrously, often with humiliating consequences.
  • n. A breaking up of a natural dam, usually made of ice, by a river and the ensuing rush of water.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A breaking or bursting forth; a violent rush or flood of waters which breaks down opposing barriers, and hurls forward and disperses blocks of stone and other débris.
  • n. A sudden breaking up or breaking loose; a violent dispersion or disruption; impetuous rush; outburst.
  • n. a complete and ludicrous failure; a rout, as of an army; a great disaster; a fiasco.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Specifically, the breaking up of ice in a river in consequence of a rise of the water.
  • n. A confused rout; an uncontrollable rush; a stampede.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. flooding caused by a tumultuous breakup of ice in a river during the spring or summer
  • n. a sudden and violent collapse
  • n. a sound defeat

Etymologies

French débâcle, from débâcler, to unbar, from Old French desbacler : des-, de- + bacler, to bar (from Vulgar Latin *bacculāre, from Latin baculum, rod).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French débâcle, from débâcler ("to unbar; unleash") from prefix dé- ("un-") + bâcler ("to dash, bind, bar, block"), from Middle French, from Old French bâcler, bacler ("to hold in place, prop a door or window open"), from Middle Dutch bakkelen ("to freeze artificially, lock in place"), from bakken ("to stick, stick hard, glue together"). Also attested in Old French desbacler ("to clear a harbour by getting ships unloaded to make room for incoming ships with lading") and in Occitan baclar "to close". Modern sense of "bar, block" stems from influence from Latin baculum ("staff"). The word débâcle is first attested in the early 19th century. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To say that this debacle was a debacle is a vast understatement.

    A taste test for Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth

  • Some experts predict that the only way out of the debacle is a huge settlement in which home-loan servicers modify the terms of billions of dollars of mortgages.

    Understanding the Foreclosure Debacle

  • If this debacle is allowed to happen it will make the Jimmy Carter years look like paradise.

    Poll: Obama drops on health care

  • Adding another layer to the debacle is the fact that Genentech has only tested Avastin for breast cancer or lung cancer treatment at a dose double that prescribed for colon cancer.

    Archive 2006-02-01

  • I'm using "that" as a replacement for "the dose," so the sentence could also read, "Adding another layer to the debacle is the fact that Genentech has only tested Avastin for breast cancer or lung cancer treatment at a dose double the dose prescribed for colon cancer."

    Double Drug Jeopardy

  • "Adding another layer to the debacle is the fact that Genentech has only tested Avastin for breast cancer or lung cancer treatment at a dose double that prescribed for colon cancer."

    Double Drug Jeopardy

  • Mr. Obama blamed the economy's weakness on the downturn in Europe, slow job growth and what he called the "debacle" of this past summer's debt ceiling negotiations.

    NYT > Home Page

  • The phrase "The Facebook Username debacle" is first used, and becomes the preferred sobriquet for the feature forevermore. 70% of commenters mention that "Facebook Username" can be abbreviated "FU", and each thinks he is the first to think of it.

    Exclusive: The Future of Facebook Usernames - Anil Dash

  • The reason I fume at this Clay County debacle is that, simply because we live in Mexico and have no U.S. address, we cannot open a bank checking account up there nor open a credit card account unless I already had them when I got here despite the fact that we had perfect credit over 40 years before moving here and I´m a U. S.citizen.

    South Dakota car registration

  • One under-appreciated lesson of this whole debacle is how fortunate we are to have a distributed system of small, local community banks and credit unions.

    Matthew Yglesias » Missing: A Plan to Fix the Economy

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Comments

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  • I confused this word with manacle. What a debacle i have done!

    September 24, 2012

  • I like this word better when it's wearing its stylish French accessories: débâcle.

    June 18, 2009

  • How poignant...

    October 13, 2007

  • I like the way this word sounds. It is fun to say, and always makes me smile when I'm forced to use it to describe my life.

    February 22, 2007