Definitions

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

  • n. Loose fragments or grains that have been worn away from rock.
  • n. Disintegrated or eroded matter: the detritus of past civilizations.
  • n. Accumulated material; debris: "Poems, engravings, press releases—he eagerly scrutinizes the detritus of fame” ( Carlin Romano).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. pieces of rock broken off by ice, glacier, or erosion.
  • n. Organic waste material from decomposing dead plants or animals.
  • n. debris or fragments of disintegrated material

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mass of substances worn off from solid bodies by attrition, and reduced to small portions.
  • n. Hence: Any fragments separated from the body to which they belonged; any product of disintegration.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In geology, loose, uncompacted fragments of rock, either water-worn or angular.
  • n. More comprehensively, any broken or comminuted, material worn away from a mass by attrition; any aggregate of loosened fragments or particles.
  • n. In pathology, caseous or other disorganized material formed by the destruction of living tissue.

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

  • n. loose material (stone fragments and silt etc) that is worn away from rocks
  • n. the remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up

Etymologies

French détritus, from Latin dētrītus, from past participle of dēterere, to lessen, wear away; see detriment.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin detritus ("the act of rubbing away"), from dēterō ("rub away"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • From Dave Eggers' "Zeitoun," p. 128: "The water was filthy now, streaked with oil and spotted with detritus."

    August 4, 2012

  • A badass troll.

    January 28, 2012