Printable Version
Pronunciation: dê-bree (US); day-bree (UK) Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Rubble, scrap, the useless remains of something destroyed, as 'the debris left by an explosion'. 2. Lots of rubbish, trash, the remains of a major event, as 'roadside debris'. 3. (Geology) The accumulation of rock fragments, as 'glacial debris'.

Notes: You can actually leave the cap on E and spell the word débris. As you can see from the indecisiveness in pronunciation and spelling, this word seems stuck between French and English.

In Play: Unfettered debris seems to form circles. The "garbage patches" of debris form circles in the Pacific and other oceans just like the million bits of debris orbiting the Earth. Debris can also accumulate anywhere a large number of people congregate: "Polly was left with the task of cleaning up the debris from last night's overly successful party."

Word History: Today's Good Word is simply French débris without E's hat. This word is the noun from Old French debrisier "to break down, crush", comprising de-, here, an intensive prefix + brisier "to break". Brisier was inherited from Vulgar Latin brisare "to press grapes". This word probably goes back to a PIE word bherdho- "to break, destroy" which also became Greek péthein "to destroy, lay waste", Old Irish brissim "I break", Anglo-Saxon berstan, Dutch barsten "to burst", German bersten "to burst", and English burst. (Now let's give our old South African friend Chris Stewart a sign of our appreciation for the long series of Good Words he has suggested, including today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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