Debacle definition

dĭ-bäkəl, -băkəl, dĕbə-kəl
A total, often ludicrous failure.
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An overwhelming defeat or rout.
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A sudden, disastrous collapse, downfall, or defeat; a rout.
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A total, often ludicrous, collapse or failure.
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The definition of a debacle is a sudden downfall or a total failure.

An example of a debacle is a poorly run political campaign that ends in overwhelming defeat.

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(ecology) A breaking up of a natural dam, usually made of ice, by a river and the ensuing rush of water.
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The breaking up of ice in a river.
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A violent flood.
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A breaking up of ice in a river, etc.
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A rush of debris-filled waters.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
debacle
Plural:
dbcles, debacles

Origin of debacle

  • French débâcle from débâcler to unbar from Old French desbacler des- de- bacler to bar (from Vulgar Latin bacculāre) (from Latin baculum rod bak- in Indo-European roots)

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th 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.

    From Wiktionary