AskDefine | Define debouch

Dictionary Definition



1 march out (as from a defile) into open ground; "The regiments debouched from the valley" [syn: march out]
2 pass out or emerge; especially of rivers; "The tributary debouched into the big river"

User Contributed Dictionary



déboucher (de + bouche), modelled on Italian sboccare.


  • /dɪ'bu:ʃ/|/dɪ'bæʊʧ/


  1. To pour forth from a narrow opening. To emerge from a narrow place like a defile into open country or a wider space.
    • 1985, the pretty pimpled young man, no longer a boy, came down from the imperial box in his purple to the performers’ well which debouched into the arena. — Anthony Burgess, Kingdom of the Wicked
    • 1993, Ungrateful brats debouch from their cheap holiday in someone else’s misery and their tired parents try desperately to summon up joy out of indifference. — Will Self, My Idea of Fun
    • 1997, the water rushes away in uncommonly long waterfalls, downward for hours, unbrak’d, till at last debouching into an interior Lake of great size — Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon

Extensive Definition

Defile is a geographic term for a narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills. It has its origins as a military description of a pass through which troops can march only in a narrow column or with a narrow front. On emerging from a defile (or something similar) into open country, soldiers are said to debouch (debouch can also be used to describe water that flows out of a defile into a wider place such as a lake) and so a fortification at the end of a defile is sometimes known as a debouch.
In a traditional military formation soldiers march in rank (the depth of the formation) and files (the width of the formation), so if a column of soldiers approach a narrow pass the formation must narrow which means that files on the outside must be ordered to the rear (or to some other position) so that the column has fewer files and more ranks. The French verb for this order is défiler, from which the English verb comes, as does the physical description for a valley that forces this manoeuvre. Defiles of military significance can also be formed by other physical features that flank a pass or path and cause it to narrow, for example impassable woods and rivers. At the Battle of Agincourt a defile formed by the woods of Agincourt and Tramecourt caused a choke point for the French army and aided the English in their victory over the French.
Some defiles have a permanent strategic importance and become known by that term in military literature. For example the military historian William Siborne name such a geographic feature in France near the frontier with Germany in his book Waterloo Campaign 1815

See also


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

arise, bail out, blow out, bob up, break cover, break forth, break out, break through, burst forth, cast forth, come, come forth, come out, decant, discharge, disembogue, disgorge, effuse, ejaculate, emanate, emerge, eruct, erupt, exhaust, exit, expel, extravasate, extrude, find vent, flare up, flash, gleam, irrupt, issue, issue forth, jet, jump out, leak out, ooze out, outpour, pop up, pour, pour forth, pour out, protrude, run out, sally, sally forth, send forth, send out, spew, spout, spring up, spurt, squirt, start up, surface, throw out
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