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
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)