recent use of “to debrief” in AE as an intransitive verb but no dictionary says it can?

The online OED defines to debrief as follows

to obtain information from


Leonov and Belyaev..will stay at the space station for several days to be debriefed (1965)

The online Merriam-Webster defines it as

a. to interrogate
b. to review carefully

However, it cites the following as “recent examples from the web” for the verb, and all seem to be using it as an intransitive verb.

So is it really used as an intransitive verb, despite that no dictionary says it can ? or is it just my misunderstanding (from the examples below) ?

  1. Putting a fun spin on staying hydrated will help kids enjoy the summer sun safely, and gathering for a refreshing drink every day will give the family a chance to debrief and plan out the next day. (2018)
  2. Trump sits down with Mike Pompeo to debrief at 2:30 p.m (2018)
  3. Days later, Kading is put in front of the LAPD chief of police to debrief on his task force’s concrete findings (2018)


Debrief is the act questioning someone after the completion of a task or project. This review or interrogation is meant to glean information. It was originally used with spies, pilots, or soldiers. It is still used in that setting, but also in general situations for any time one might want to learn from an experience or project.

In short, one briefs before a task and debriefs afterward.

(The Grammariest)

In the sentence above “debrief” appears to be a misused with the meaning of “to report” as noted in the following extract:

Debrief” has leaked out of the military and national security realms into the business world, where people seem pretty confused about it.

When you send people out on missions, you brief them—give them information they’ll need. You give them a briefing. When they come back, you debrief them by asking them what they did and found out. Note that in both cases it’s not the person doing the actual work but the boss or audience that does the briefing and debriefing. But people commonly use “debrief” when they mean “report.”

The verb “brief” comes originally from law, where someone being given a legal brief (instructions on handling a case) can be said to have been briefed. Debriefing has nothing to do with underwear.

(Washington State University)

Source : Link , Question Author : B Chen , Answer Author : user 66974

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