Definition of debauch in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Destroy or debase the moral purity of; corrupt.

    • ‘So thoroughly have they debauched its role that, were it not for the requirements of the Constitution, we could close it down tomorrow and it would make no difference.’
    • ‘Politics was debauched a long time ago by television, and it's not going to go back, they're not going to change it, it's not going to get any better.’
    • ‘Lenin is said to have said the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency.’
    • ‘Is it ethical to do so, is it moral to debauch one's artistic integrity at the altar of Oscar greed?’
    • ‘They have debauched the values on which the party was founded.’
    • ‘There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.’
    • ‘This administration has debauched our once independent civil service. It has also plundered our pension funds, condemning millions to meagre pickings in their retirement.’
    • ‘However, soon too many dollars are chasing too few goods, debauching the currency, as John Maynard Keynes once wrote, and eventually the exchange.’
    • ‘The drain of the agricultural population to big cities, due chiefly to persuading them to abandon their natural ideals, has not only made the country less tolerable to the peasant, but debauched the town.’
    • ‘Given enough drugs, money and the right opportunities, anyone can debauch themselves.’
    • ‘They have seen public life debauched by Labour on an unprecedented scale.’
    • ‘Why has CBS News decided it would rather debauch its brand and treat its audience like morons than simply admit their hoax?’
    • ‘To call what this aerial armada did a ‘war’, as distinct from unchallenged slaughter, is to debauch language.’
    • ‘If they knew the nature and worth of religion, they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes.’
    • ‘The principle of ministerial responsibility has been debauched by its invocation on any conceivable occasion, to the extent that it has become almost meaningless.’
    • ‘Today, the prime minister is fond of ranting about the ‘public service ethic’; but that ethic has cynically been debauched by the government.’
    • ‘Good luck to him: but there is no earthly reason why BBC radio should timidly do the same, and debauch one of our greatest programmes in the process.’
    corrupt, lead astray, warp, subvert, pervert, debase, degrade, make degenerate, defile, sully, pollute, poison, contaminate, infect
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    1. 1.1dated Seduce (a woman)
      ‘he debauched sixteen schoolgirls’
      • ‘I don't think Derek would have debauched me right there in Lady Danbury's garden, but still… just then, I would have given everything to go back and see how far he took us before he pulled back.’
      • ‘This is why men who weary their imagination in books are less suitable for procreative functions; while those who dissipate their spirits in debauching women cannot apply themselves to serious study.’
      • ‘Apparently the Count debauches his own mother before turning paedophile.’
      • ‘When the Scots diarist James Boswell travelled to Corsica in 1765, he was warned he would be killed instantly if he so much as attempted ‘to debauch any of their women’.’
      • ‘Tonight, in front of the entire Law Enforcement Workers Association of New York, I will debauch you on the main gala dinner table.’
      corrupt, deprave, warp, pervert, subvert, lead astray, make degenerate, ruin
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  • 1A bout of excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures, especially eating and drinking.

    • ‘Yet a mere six months later, Sade is engaging in his most outrageous debauches to date.’
    • ‘As the youth is guided to his bed, he is assaulted by ‘unspeakable odors’ that seem to be ‘the fumes from a thousand bygone debauches’.’
    • ‘To his credit, Boswell never sought to downplay his debauches.’
    • ‘In spite of his refreshing sexual candor, his tours are anything but debauches.’
    • ‘However, these churches, which only attract a few thousand believers, issue explicit directives to their members not to engage in any antisocial acts, wild orgies and debauches included.’
    • ‘In 1805, an extremely handsome young man, he went up to Cambridge, where he attended intermittently to his studies between extravagant debauches there and in London.’
    • ‘I don't watch Eastenders these days, but I often catch a few minutes from the Sunday afternoon omnibus edition as I struggle to set the VCR before setting out for a night's debauch.’
    • ‘Other people are sensibly heading to work and you feel like a lowlife reprobate skulking home after a debauch.’
    • ‘Others are authored by navel-gazing college students or self-declared alcoholics detailing each wretched night's debauch.’
    • ‘Cue drum intro and hip-shaking guitar riff as I roll out of bed groggy and a bit down after the previous night's debauch, knowing that soon I'm about to feel either much better or much worse.’
    • ‘Hypothermia can occur in younger people with heroin overdosage, from severely low blood sugars, in mountaineers, after near drowning, or in a derelict found under a bridge after an alcoholic debauch.’
    • ‘A return to a standard once lost is a painful and laborious journey… As Cobden once said of the greenbacks, after the debauch comes the headache.’
    • ‘I'd had a pint of beer, four glasses of wine, and some whisky, and that felt like a tremendous debauch.’
    drinking bout, debauch
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    1. 1.1 The habit or practice of indulgence in sensual pleasures; debauchery.
      ‘his life had been spent in debauch’
      • ‘The place had a reputation for hands-on debauch (and was reportedly raided by cops earlier this year), so of course we were curious.’
      • ‘Youthful irresponsibility quickly evolved into recklessness, vanity, intolerance of rivals, and drunken debauch, so, by 1827, loss of respectability was accompanied by visible physical disintegration.’
      • ‘The roots of many carnivals around the world are in pre-Lenten debauch - a time to get down and dirty before those 40 days of strained piety.’
      • ‘I can't speak for other Londoners, but May Day Riots are rapidly joining the London Marathon as events that I never witness as such, yet whose aftermath always somehow impinges, usually when I'm off in search of debauch.’
      • ‘It was just that, as the author puts it: ‘For Matisse none of the standard forms of addiction or debauch could hope to match the risk and allure of painting.’’
      • ‘And then some unscheduled odd event - a thrilling novel, an unexpected phone call, a bout of debauch - will push the envelope, and the gears will start to spin.’


Late 16th century: from French débaucher (verb) ‘turn away from one's duty’, from Old French desbaucher, of uncertain ultimate origin.