[ dih-trahy-tuhs ]
See synonyms for detritus on
  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.

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

Other words from detritus

  • de·tri·tal, adjective

Words Nearby detritus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use detritus in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for detritus


/ (dɪˈtraɪtəs) /

  1. a loose mass of stones, silt, etc, worn away from rocks

  2. an accumulation of disintegrated material or debris

  1. the organic debris formed from the decay of organisms

Origin of detritus

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

Derived forms of detritus

  • detrital, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for 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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.