Definition of debacle in English:



  • A sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco.

    ‘the economic debacle that became known as the Great Depression’
    • ‘These two debacles take us right to the core of how service professionals handle and account for risk when they take on highly - lucrative contracts from clients.’
    • ‘After previous electoral debacles, the Conservatives bounced speedily back.’
    • ‘The full extent of those earlier debacles could be cloaked in secrecy.’
    • ‘‘All of these were outrageous debacles undertaken for crude political reasons,’ said Mr Bruton.’
    • ‘The debacle at Gallipoli meant the war ministry in London needed a propaganda success.’
    • ‘I caution you however, to mention that the left cannot afford any more debacles that could have easily been prevented by fact checking.’
    • ‘What can I say after the debacles / meltdowns by both Boston and Chicago in this week's championship series?’
    • ‘The generals are intent on proving that the defeats are not debacles, and that the fall of key strategic bases is simply a ‘tactical withdrawal’.’
    • ‘For one thing, it will force the government to produce a compelling, coherent, consistent, and persuasive account of their programs, their debacles, and their triumphs.’
    • ‘The government has made A-levels ever easier in an attempt to disguise the debacle, but it has failed in that too.’
    • ‘Drummer Larry Mullen Jr apologised to fans for the recent debacle where many fan club members were unable to buy tickets for the shows.’
    • ‘The wimp-baiting from the right has gotten us into the two worst foreign policy debacles of the last half century and we have to put a stop to it.’
    • ‘If there's one thing last fall's election debacle taught us, it's that people like to deal in absolutes.’
    • ‘The referendum debacles catch Europe at what is possibly the first time in its history when all the leaders of the big four nations are serving out their time, waiting to be replaced.’
    • ‘And until we straighten out what kind of information real doctors take into the examining room with them to see real patients, we're going to keep having these drug debacles one after the other.’
    • ‘If this man worked in the private sector and had presided over repeated financial debacles of a similar magnitude, he would have been invited to resign years ago.’
    • ‘Often the films in question turn into debacles.’
    • ‘Two consecutive Election Day debacles have shaken public confidence in exit polls, once viewed as the crown jewel of political surveys.’
    • ‘These minor debacles are just symptoms of a larger ailment, one that has afflicted over a century's worth of politicians on every level and for which there is no end in sight.’
    • ‘His handling of the debacle was masterful, saving the parent company from financial collapse.’
    fiasco, failure, catastrophe, disaster, disintegration, mess, wreck, ruin
    View synonyms


Early 19th century (in sense ‘the breaking up of ice in a river’): from French débâcle, from débâcler ‘unleash’, from dé- ‘un-’ + bâcler ‘to bar’ (from Latin baculum ‘staff’).