A debacle refers to a sudden and disastrous failure or collapse, often resulting in confusion, chaos, or humiliation. It can refer to a major setback or catastrophe in various contexts, such as in politics, business, or personal situations.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



disaster, calamity, fiasco, catastrophe, failure, collapse, mess, rout, debacle, bust, downfall


Success, triumph, victory, accomplishment, achievement

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun debacles, debacle
Verb None
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The company’s financial mismanagement and unethical practices led to the debacle that resulted in its bankruptcy.

  • The team’s highly anticipated game turned into a complete debacle as they suffered a crushing defeat.

  • The political leader’s scandalous behavior caused a major political debacle, damaging both the party’s reputation and his own career.

  • The government’s failed policies and inability to address pressing issues led to a series of debacles that eroded public trust and confidence.


The word “debacle” originated from French and entered the English language in the mid-1800s. It was derived from the French word “débâcle,” which means “breaking up of ice.” Initially, “debacle” referred to a sudden and rapid melting of ice or the breaking apart of a glacier, often leading to flooding or destruction. Over time, the term acquired a metaphorical sense, representing a catastrophic event or failure that results in chaos or confusion.

The usage of “debacle” often conveys a sense of dramatic and disastrous collapse, particularly in contexts involving politics, business, or personal matters. It is frequently used to describe significant setbacks or catastrophes that lead to confusion, disruption, or embarrassment. This word is associated with events or situations that go awry and result in a loss of control or a complete breakdown of plans.

“Debacle” is a standalone noun, and it typically does not require the use of any prefixes, suffixes, or root words to convey its meaning. Its single-word form encapsulates the concept of a disastrous failure or collapse succinctly. The word’s usage is not limited to any particular domain, making it adaptable to various contexts where there has been a significant failure or collapse.

In summary, the word “debacle” has a rich history rooted in the breaking up of ice and floods. It has evolved to encompass metaphorical disasters and failures. This term continues to be widely used and is an effective way to describe sudden and catastrophic events or situations that result in chaos or humiliation. Its simplicity and impact make it a valuable addition to the English language.