debauch
1590s, from Middle French desbaucher, from Old French desbauchier, from des- + bauch ("beam"), from frk *balko, from Proto-Germanic *balkô, from Proto-Indo-European *bhelg-; latter origin of balk.

Evolution of sense unclear; may be literally “to shave/trim wood to make a beam” or may be “to leave/lure someone from a workshop”, Frankish *balko perhaps also meaning “workshop”.
Possible corruption by way of Anglicised French term bord: kerb crawling as a synonym for prostitution. Parallels in modern German: Bordsteinschwalbe. English words bawd, bawdiness may be similarly connected.

Pronunciation
  • IPA: /dɪˈbɔːt͡ʃ/
Noun

debauch (plural debauches)

  1. An individual act of debauchery.
  2. An orgy.
    • 1934 George Orwell, Burmese Days:
      "The flowers, oppressive to the eyes, blazed with not a petal stirring, in a debauch of sun."
Translations Verb

debauch (debauches, present participle debauching; past and past participle debauched)

  1. (transitive) To morally corrupt (someone); to seduce.
  2. (transitive) To debase (something); to lower the value of (something).
    • 1685, Matthew Prior, “A Satyr on the modern Translators”, in H. Bunker Wright, Monroe K. Spears, editors, The Literary Works of Matthew Prior, volume I, Second edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, published 1971, page 19:
      Those who with nine months toil had spoil’d a Play,
      In hopes of Eating at a full Third day,
      Justly despairing longer to sustain
      A craving Stomach from an empty Brain,
      Have left Stage-Practice, chang’d their old Vocations,
      Atoning for bad Plays, with worse Translations,
      And like old Sternhold with laborious spite,
      Burlesque what nobler Muses better write:
      Thus while they for their Causes only seem
      To change the Channel, they corrupt the Stream.
      So breaking Vintners to increase their Wine,
      With nauseous Drugs debauch the generous Vine:
      So barren Gipsies for recruit are said,
      With Strangers Issue to maintain the Trade;
      But lest the fair Bantling should be known,
      A daubing Walnut makes him all their own.
  3. (intransitive) To indulge in revelry.
Translations Translations
  • Russian: унижа́ть
Related terms


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