Word of the Day Archive
Friday February 22, 2002
detritus \dih-TRY-tuhs\ , noun:
1. Loose material that is worn away from rocks.
2. Hence, any fragments separated from the body to which they belonged; any product of disintegration; debris.
The water was smooth and brown, with detritus swirling in the eddies from the increasing current.
-- Gordon Chaplin, Dark Wind: A Survivor's Tale of Love and Loss
If they [flying cars] were easy to produce, we'd be walking around wearing helmets to protect us from the detritus of flying car crashes.
-- Gail Collins, "Grounded for 2000", New York Times, December 7, 1999
The loose detritus of thought, washed down to us through long ages.
-- H. Rogers, Essays
Detritus derives from the past participle of Latin deterere, "to rub away, to wear out," from de-, "from" + terere, "to rub." It is related to detriment, at root "a rubbing away, a wearing away," hence "damage, harm."