asun·​der | \ ə-ˈsən-dər How to pronounce asunder (audio) \

Definition of asunder

1 : into parts torn asunder
2 : apart from each other … he staggered away, with his legs very wide asunder.— Charles Dickens

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for asunder


apart, piecemeal



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

Asunder dates from the 14th century and can be traced back to the Old English word sundor, meaning "apart." It is a relative of the verb sunder, which means "to break apart or in two" or "to become parted or severed." The "into parts" sense of asunder is often used in the phrase tear asunder, which can be used both literally and figuratively (as in "a family torn asunder by tragedy"). The "separated in position" sense can be found in the phrase poles asunder, used to describe two things that are as vastly far apart as the poles of the Earth.

Examples of asunder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Picture pleading eyes and hear limbs being torn asunder. Jason Kehe, WIRED, "Sci-Fi Invades Netflix—as They Both Invade Your Home," 9 July 2018 Somehow, though, the answers never add up, nor do the details that convincingly define a life torn asunder. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Carey Mulligan Tells a Harrowing Tale of ‘Girls & Boys’," 27 June 2018 Every time this happens, family members and friends of the victims have their lives torn asunder in an instant. Alexander Tsai, STAT, "When police officers kill unarmed blacks, it affects blacks’ mental health across the country," 27 June 2018 But half a year away from that milestone, the group’s dynamic was torn asunder in the last weeks of 2017 by the death of Jonghyun, who passed at the age of 27. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "SHINee Talks 'The Story of Light' Series and 10th Anniversary," 15 June 2018 Like O'Neill's masterpiece, Buried Child focuses on a spiritually bankrupt family torn asunder and glued together by unspeakable secrets. Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader, "Writers Theatre's Buried Child sacrifices Sam Shepard's ghoulish humor for tragedy," 23 May 2018 Someday, in my opinion, and maybe soon, the Rajneesh cult will break asunder. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Last Year at Rajneeshpuram?," 12 Apr. 2018 All week, Bitegate has torn the nation asunder—and now, the late night world has finally waded in, with James Corden and Stephen Colbert (must have been a CBS-wide mandate, huh?) both dedicating segments to diving into the case. Yohana Desta, HWD, "James Corden and Stephen Colbert Are Determined to Solve Beyoncé Bitegate," 30 Mar. 2018 In the process, the two great reformist movements of their day — the Renaissance, embodied in Erasmus, and the Reformation, embodied in Luther — were torn asunder. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, New York Times, "Erasmus vs. Luther — a Rift That Defined the Course of Western Civilization," 29 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'asunder.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of asunder

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for asunder

see sunder

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about asunder

Listen to Our Podcast about asunder

Statistics for asunder

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for asunder

The first known use of asunder was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for asunder


asun·​der | \ ə-ˈsən-dər How to pronounce asunder (audio) \

Kids Definition of asunder

: into parts torn asunder

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on asunder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with asunder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for asunder

Spanish Central: Translation of asunder

Nglish: Translation of asunder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asunder for Arabic Speakers

Comments on asunder

What made you want to look up asunder? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!