de·​mar·​cate | \ di-ˈmär-ˌkāt How to pronounce demarcate (audio) , ˈdē-ˌmär- How to pronounce demarcate (audio) \
demarcated; demarcating

Definition of demarcate

transitive verb

1 : delimit a plot of land demarcated by a low stone wall
2 : to set apart : distinguish demarcate teachers as mentor, master and model teachers based on their level of education— Shanay Cadette

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Did You Know?

Demarcate is set apart by its unique history. Scholars think it may have descended from the Italian verb marcare ("to mark"), which is itself of Germanic origin (the Old High German word for boundary, "marha," is a relative). "Marcare" is the probable source of the Spanish marcar (also "to mark"), from which comes the Spanish demarcar ("to fix the boundary of"). In 1493, a Spanish noun, demarcación, was used to name the new meridian dividing the New World territory between Spain and Portugal. Later (about 1730), English speakers began calling this boundary the "line of demarcation," and eventually we began applying that phrase to other dividing lines as well. "Demarcation" in turn gave rise to "demarcate" in the early 19th century.

Examples of demarcate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The distinct styles of the artists, all of whom had experience in nonfiction comics, help to demarcate the compelling stories of the 10 people – former prisoners, lawyers, military staff – who shared their experiences and perspectives. oregonlive, "Stories from Guantánamo get compelling comic-style treatment from Portland journalist," 5 Sep. 2020 Linked inextricably to the Vikings’ warring ideology, gaming pieces could demarcate their owner’s status, explained historian Helène Whittaker to Atlas Obscura. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Glass Gaming Piece May Hail From First Viking Raids in England," 10 Feb. 2020 Carpet tiles demarcate six-foot black circles around every desk in the open floor plan. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Will Reshape Architecture," 17 June 2020 Police set up barricades to demarcate the groups outside the Churchill Recreation Center and, along with members of the media, stood in a no man’s land between them. Vitriol crossed the divide in both directions. Dallas News, "Protesters, supporters face off as Donald Trump visits church in North Dallas," 12 June 2020 Also expect plenty of tape marking on floors to demarcate where people should stand in line for elevators reserved for a single rider. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Ditching the water cooler: Coronavirus will transform office life," 29 May 2020 When our usual routines and plans are disrupted, getting to demarcate the seasons for beloved foods can help make things seem just a little more normal. Tara Duggan,, "Will there be a summer this year? Our wild salmon offers hope," 22 May 2020 Still, every critic will draw some line when pressed -- Christgau’s review of Ice Cube’s second solo album, Death Certificate, released in October 1991, demarcates his limits. Ross Scarano, Billboard, "What's the Place of Morality in Music Criticism?," 6 May 2019 Over 2,000 people were killed, and this bolt out of the blue suddenly demarcated peace from war. Jake Nevins, New York Times, "The Imperative of Personal Sacrifice, Today and During World War II," 3 Apr. 2020

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

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First Known Use of demarcate

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for demarcate

back-formation from demarcation, from Spanish demarcación, from demarcar to delimit, from de- + marcar to mark, probably from Italian marcare, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German marha boundary — more at mark

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Time Traveler for demarcate

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The first known use of demarcate was in 1816

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Last Updated

10 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Demarcate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for demarcate


How to pronounce demarcate (audio) How to pronounce demarcate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of demarcate

formal : to show the limits or edges of (something)


transitive verb
de·​mar·​cate | \ di-ˈmär-ˌkāt How to pronounce demarcate (audio) , ˈdē-ˌ How to pronounce demarcate (audio) \
demarcated; demarcating

Medical Definition of demarcate

1 : to mark or determine the limits of
2 : to set apart clearly or distinctly as if by definite limits or boundaries

Other Words from demarcate

demarcation also demarkation \ ˌdē-​ˌmär-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce demarkation (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on demarcate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for demarcate

Britannica English: Translation of demarcate for Arabic Speakers

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