Dust vs Debris - What's the difference?

dust | debris |

As nouns the difference between dust and debris

is that dust is fine, dry particles of matter found in the air and covering the surface of objects, typically consisting of soil lifted up by the wind, pollen, hair, etc while debris is rubble, wreckage, scattered remains of something destroyed.

As a verb dust

is to remove dust from.




  • (uncountable) Fine, dry particles of matter found in the air and covering the surface of objects, typically consisting of soil lifted up by the wind, pollen, hair, etc.
  • (countable) The act of cleaning by dusting.
  • * 2010 , Joan Busfield, Michael Paddon, Thinking About Children: Sociology and Fertility in Post-War England (page 150)
  • once they start school, I mean you can do a room out one day, the next day it only needs a dust , doesn't it?
  • (obsolete) A single particle of earth or other material.
  • * Shakespeare
  • to touch a dust of England's ground
  • The earth, as the resting place of the dead.
  • * Bible, Job vii. 21
  • I shall sleep in the dust .
  • The earthy remains of bodies once alive; the remains of the human body.
  • * Tennyson
  • And you may carve a shrine about my dust .
  • (figurative) Something worthless.
  • * Shakespeare
  • And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust .
  • (figurative) A low or mean condition.
  • * Bible, 1 Sam. ii. 8
  • [God] raiseth up the poor out of the dust .
  • (slang, dated) cash; money (in reference to gold dust).
  • (mathematics) A totally disconnected set of points with a fractal structure.
  • Derived terms

    * angel dust * bite the dust * catch dust * dust ball * dustbin, dust bin * dust devil * dustbowl, dust bowl * dust bunny * dust filter * dustman * dust mask * dustpan * duststorm * dust trap * dust-up * dusty * fairy dust * goofer dust * pixie dust * smart dust, smartdust * stardust * turn to dust


    (en verb)
  • To remove dust from.
  • * , chapter=12
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=There were many wooden chairs for the bulk of his visitors, and two wicker armchairs with red cloth cushions for superior people. From the packing-cases had emerged some Indian clubs, […], and all these articles […] made a scattered and untidy decoration that Mrs. Clough assiduously dusted and greatly cherished.}}
  • To remove dust; to clean by removing dust.
  • Of a bird, to cover itself in sand or dry, dusty earth.
  • To spray or cover something with fine powder or liquid.
  • To leave; to rush off.
  • * 1939 , (Raymond Chandler), (The Big Sleep) , Penguin 2011, p. 75:
  • He added in a casual tone: ‘The girl can dust . I'd like to talk to you a little, soldier.’
  • To reduce to a fine powder; to levigate.
  • (Sprat)

    Derived terms

    * dust off * duster

    See also

    * vacuum cleaner



    Alternative forms



  • Rubble, wreckage, scattered remains of something destroyed.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=December 21, author=David M. Halbfinger, Charles V. Bagli and Sarah Maslin Nir, title=On Ravaged Coastline, It’s Rebuild Deliberately vs. Rebuild Now, work=New York Times citation
  • , passage=His neighbors were still ripping out debris . But Mr. Ryan, a retired bricklayer who built his house by hand 30 years ago only to lose most of it to Hurricane Sandy, was already hard at work rebuilding. }}
  • Litter and discarded refuse.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Welcome to the plastisphere , passage=[The researchers] noticed many of their pieces of [plastic marine] debris sported surface pits around two microns across. Such pits are about the size of a bacterial cell. Closer examination showed that some of these pits did, indeed, contain bacteria, […].}}
  • The ruins of a broken-down structure
  • (geology) Large rock fragments left by a melting glacier etc.
  • Anagrams