Definition of debase in English:



  • 1[with object] Reduce (something) in quality or value; degrade.

    ‘the love episodes debase the dignity of the drama’
    • ‘I'm all about building up the human spirit, not debasing it and degrading it all the more.’
    • ‘It was reprehensible the way they debased the institutions of government to fund the '96 campaign.’
    • ‘Everywhere people recognise that genuine forms of corruption debase the quality of their life, lead to the degradation of their social and physical environment.’
    • ‘I mean, they use military language in football, too, and we don't complain about that overstating the case or debasing the language.’
    • ‘The ‘anti’ brigade says that gifts can debase the trust between doctor and patient and devalue the true value of the care that doctors give.’
    • ‘The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.’
    • ‘The phenomenon distorts religion, debases tradition, and twists the political process wherever it unfolds.’
    • ‘His way is not just to debase traditional standards; it is to do away with them altogether.’
    • ‘This skewed history is the result of an oral culture being debased and devalued through the past century.’
    • ‘Inflation, which is always politically engineered, devalues currencies, debases trust and takes years to work its way out of investors' perceptions.’
    • ‘Part of the charge against the Olympics is that while proclaiming simple idealism it in fact debases the meaning and purpose of sport itself.’
    • ‘But they should not be allowed to force us into unnecessarily debasing the quality of our democracy.’
    • ‘Sayles shows us characters peddling debased versions of history and culture put to the service of marketing.’
    • ‘The intimidation of political dissidents threatens the right of free speech for all and debases our traditions of civil liberty and tolerance.’
    • ‘This is the sort of thing that debases a language and a culture.’
    • ‘Rather, it assumes a more traditional role in which art becomes a privatized sphere of reality, seen in opposition to a world debased by common values.’
    • ‘But it does so through the methods of politics, however corrupted and debased these have become in our country.’
    • ‘These are the sort of values that Australian people cherish, are entitled to but are being debased by this government.’
    • ‘As a place for sport and place for pride, this wonderful space has been debased by senseless people acting, presumably, on behalf of the nation, without, of course, the people's voice.’
    • ‘Public life has been debased by the rancid culture of personality politics.’
    degrade, devalue, demean, lower the status of, reduce the status of, cheapen, prostitute, discredit, drag down, drag through the mud, tarnish, blacken, blemish
    corrupt, corrupted, bastardized, adulterated, diluted, polluted, tainted, sullied, spoiled, spoilt
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    1. 1.1Lower the moral character of (someone)
      ‘war debases people’
      • ‘The sick jerk probably debased us in his mind to the point where we didn't even have any feelings.’
      • ‘It is unfair, unequal, biased, and debases us all.’
      • ‘The corollary is that when shown what debases us, our soul compresses and our ego inflates.’
      • ‘Trying to keep track of 18 people rapidly debasing themselves in the hope of winning a million dollars was no easy feat.’
      • ‘Monroe had fled to the Actors Studio in the mid-'50s to achieve something more than the stardom she felt debased her.’
      • ‘For some people extending human control over genes is the supreme act of hubris and, like all hubris, threatens paradoxically not to elevate but to debase us.’
      • ‘People like to watch people debase themselves.’
      • ‘Far from debasing his models (most of whom are not naked), Newton places them at the heart of a deep and complex drama where they rule like errant queens.’
      • ‘It is deemed treatment to be degrading because it was such as to arouse in the victims feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing them.’
      • ‘For those viewers who aren't regular watchers of this show, let me recap how the game works: People debase themselves for money.’
      • ‘As a Christian I believe we must always recognize the dignity of even the most debased human being and we should not take pleasure in their death.’
      • ‘We expect our television to debase us, empty us, and condescend to us.’
      • ‘You can see the suppressed masculine rage about this emerging in the phenomenal rise of violent internet porn based on debasing women and ‘putting them in their place’.’
      • ‘The acts complained of were such as to arouse in the applicant feelings of fear, anguish, and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him and possibly breaking his resistance.’
      • ‘There is no evidence in this case of any positive intention to humiliate or debase the applicant.’
      • ‘If the Minister had received cash in return for assisting a visa or passport application, that would debase him.’
      • ‘In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that in the present case there is no evidence that there was a positive intention of humiliating or debasing the applicant.’
      • ‘He is representative of the debased and semi-criminal character of the oligarchy that rules the country.’
      • ‘Not content to debase himself, he insisted that his wife drink as well.’
      • ‘His message spoke directly to a people who had been utterly debased by the country's white-supremacist society.’
      immoral, debauched, dissolute, abandoned, perverted, degenerate, profligate, degraded, wicked, sinful, vile, base, iniquitous, corrupt, corrupted, criminal, vicious, brutal, lewd, licentious, lascivious, lecherous, prurient, obscene, indecent, libertine
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  • 2historical Lower the value of (coinage) by reducing the content of precious metal.

    ‘the King was forced to debase the coinage’
    • ‘Milton Friedman pointed out some years ago that when the government spends, it will figure out a way to finance its spending, whether by taxes, by deficit borrowing or debasing the currency.’
    • ‘It should be noted that the coinage was often debased (lowered in value through the admixture of alloy) and strategically revalued.’
    • ‘In Europe, gold was democratized by its use in coins, even though successive rulers tried to debase them by mixing in lesser metals or reducing their size.’
    • ‘The state has understood this lesson since the kings of old began repeatedly to debase the coinage.’
    • ‘The US financed the war through printing extra dollars (rather than through increased taxation) and so it debased its own currency.’
    reduce in value, reduce in quality
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Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘humiliate, belittle’): from de- ‘down’ + the obsolete verb base (compare with abase), expressing the notion ‘bring down completely’.