Use debacle to refer to a fiasco, disaster, or great failure. If several dogs run onto the field during the big baseball game, tripping players and chewing up the bases, you can call the whole event a debacle.

Debacle is sometimes used to describe a military defeat. If your army retreats, that's one thing. If your army is outmaneuvered and ends up huddled in a valley, surrounded on all sides by the enemy, forced to sing 70s sitcom theme songs by their savage captors––that's a debacle. Debacle comes from French débâcler "to clear," from Middle French desbacler, from the prefix des- "completely, utterly" plus bacler "to block."

Definitions of debacle

n a sudden and violent collapse

Type of:
a natural event caused by something suddenly falling down or caving in

n flooding caused by a tumultuous breakup of ice in a river during the spring or summer

Type of:
alluvion, deluge, flood, inundation
the rising of a body of water and its overflowing onto normally dry land

n a sound defeat

drubbing, slaughter, thrashing, trouncing, walloping, whipping
Type of:
defeat, licking
an unsuccessful ending to a struggle or contest

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.