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verb (used with object), de·based, de·bas·ing.
  1. to reduce in quality or value; adulterate: They debased the value of the dollar.
  2. to lower in rank, dignity, or significance: He wouldn't debase himself by doing manual labor.
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Origin of debase

1555–65; de- + base2; cf. abase
Related formsde·bas·ed·ness [dih-bey-sid-nis, -beyst-] /dɪˈbeɪ sɪd nɪs, -ˈbeɪst-/, nounde·base·ment, nounde·bas·er, nounde·bas·ing·ly, adverbself-de·base·ment, nounun·de·based, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

disgrace, dishonor, cheapen, demean, demoralize, humiliate, impair, defile, pervert, vitiate, lower, debauch, humble, reduce, cripple, devalue, abase, corrupt, enfeeble, disable

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British Dictionary definitions for debase


  1. (tr) to lower in quality, character, or value, as by adding cheaper metal to coins; adulterate
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Derived Formsdebasedness (dɪˈbeɪsɪdnɪs), noundebasement, noundebaser, noundebasingly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: see de-, base ²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for debase


1560s, from de- "down" + base (adj.) "low," on analogy of abase (or, alternatively, from obsolete verb base "to abuse").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper