asunder

adverb or adjective

asun·​der ə-ˈsən-dər How to pronounce asunder (audio)
1
: into parts
torn asunder
2
: apart from each other
… he staggered away, with his legs very wide asunder.Charles Dickens

Did you know?

To get to the root of today’s word, it helps to take it apart and focus on the sunder. You see, asunder comes from the verb sunder, which means "to break apart" or "to become parted, disunited, or severed." Both words come from the Old English word sundor, meaning "apart." The adverbial "into parts" sense of asunder is often used in the phrase "tear asunder," which can be used both literally (as in "fabric torn asunder") and, more often, figuratively (as in "a community torn asunder by the dispute"). The adjectival "apart from each other" 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

the environmental organization was torn asunder by bitter rivalries
Recent Examples on the Web After President Lyndon Johnson stepped aside, his Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey, inherited the chaos of a country and a Democratic Party torn asunder by Vietnam. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 2 May 2024 Raised in a Somalia torn asunder by civil war and extremists increasingly gaining a foothold, Samia Yusuf Omar, an assertive, independent young woman, fights to realize her dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. Jack Dunn, Variety, 17 Apr. 2024 The soaring sharp needle of sung and played notes that tear us asunder and stitch us back together. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 22 Mar. 2024 Written by Ulrike Tony Vahl and produced by Martina Haubrich, the German series follows an idyllic community torn asunder when its children fall prey to a mysterious malady. Ben Croll, Variety, 20 Mar. 2024 Alex Garland’s new film imagines a United States torn asunder, and denies any easy explanations about why. David Sims, The Atlantic, 15 Mar. 2024 But Miral is still trying to imagine a future from a present that’s been torn asunder by death, destruction and absence. Richard Engel, NBC News, 24 Jan. 2024 Wrapped around it are curved forms, wiry and metallic, their composition looking strangely like a shattered hammer and sickle — an emblem of proletarian solidarity between agricultural and industrial workers in the Russian state, now torn asunder. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2023 Cartwright’s idealism goes a long way toward leavening a dour tone that could — without the former’s commitment and loyalty — pull the viewer asunder with lectures on meaningless work and failed systems. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'asunder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

see sunder

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

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Dictionary Entries Near asunder

Cite this Entry

“Asunder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asunder. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

asunder

adverb or adjective
asun·​der ə-ˈsən-dər How to pronounce asunder (audio)
1
: into parts
torn asunder
2
: far apart

More from Merriam-Webster on asunder

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