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detritus

[dih-trahy-tuh s]
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noun
  1. rock in small particles or other material worn or broken away from a mass, as by the action of water or glacial ice.
  2. any disintegrated material; debris.
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Origin of detritus

1785–95; < French détritus < Latin: a rubbing away, equivalent to dētrī-, variant stem of dēterere to wear down, rub off (de- de- + terere to rub) + -tus suffix of v. action
Related formsde·tri·tal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

rubbleleavingsdepositsedimentscree

Examples from the Web for detritus

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There is detritus enough in Glen Spean, but not where it is wanted.

  • By some unknown convulsion, this detritus had been heaped up.

  • Death is only real for all the detritus of the world, for all the sorrow, for all the injustice, for all the grief.

    The Octopus

    Frank Norris

  • The mouth of the Dranse, hard by, is a dreary collection of detritus.

    Lausanne

    Francis Henry Gribble

  • The road was bad, for the whole country was full of detritus.


British Dictionary definitions for detritus

detritus

noun
  1. a loose mass of stones, silt, etc, worn away from rocks
  2. an accumulation of disintegrated material or debris
  3. the organic debris formed from the decay of organisms
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Derived Formsdetrital, adjective

Word Origin

C18: from French détritus, from Latin dētrītus a rubbing away; see detriment
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 detritus

n.

1795, "process of erosion," from Latin detritus "a wearing away," from detri-, stem of detere "wear away" (see detriment). Geological sense of "matter produced by erosion" is 1802, probably from French detritus; incorrect, in any case.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

detritus in Medicine

detritus

(dĭ-trītəs)
n. pl. detritus
  1. Loose matter resulting from the wearing away or disintegration of tissue or other material.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

detritus in Science

detritus

[dĭ-trītəs]
  1. Loose fragments, such as sand or gravel, that have been worn away from rock.
  2. Matter produced by the decay or disintegration of an organic substance.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.