To debase something is to make it corrupt or impure. If your lemonade stand sells “pure lemonade,” you’d insist on using real lemons instead of a mix; using a mix would debase your product.

Debase is often used in the context of two things: coins and people. To debase a coin is to replace some of the precious metal in the coin with metal of lesser value. To debase a person is to corrupt them, often by driving them to perform an immoral act like (gasp!) using the lemonade mix. Just promise us you won’t do it.

Definitions of debase

v corrupt, debase, or make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance; often by replacing valuable ingredients with inferior ones

adulterate, dilute, load, stretch
extend, stretch
increase in quantity or bulk by adding a cheaper substance
water down
thin by adding water to
doctor, doctor up, sophisticate
alter and make impure, as with the intention to deceive
Type of:
corrupt, spoil
alter from the original

v lower in value by increasing the base-metal content

Type of:
lower the value or quality of

v corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality

corrupt, debauch, demoralise, demoralize, deprave, misdirect, pervert, profane, subvert, vitiate
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carnalise, carnalize, sensualise, sensualize
debase through carnal gratification
corrupt with ideas or an ideology
lead astray, lead off
teach immoral behavior to
spoil as if by poison
bastardise, bastardize
change something so that its value declines; for example, art forms
incite to commit a crime or an evil deed
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

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