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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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 How does one demarcate working capital necessary to the operation of an active business versus an investment portfolio merely held in the entity solution? Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 Also on the list is Peru's Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex, a prehistoric site once used to track the sun, in order to demarcate dates over the span of a year. Francesca Street, CNN, 28 July 2021 Each artist is given her own spread and the insignias used in the show demarcate the individual entries. Danielle Avram, Dallas News, 7 July 2021 Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea in 2014 and the war in eastern Ukraine demarcate a polarization of NATO members. Andrew A. Michta, WSJ, 6 July 2021 But when the waters get choppy, so too will the lines that demarcate SIVB’s performance on the S&P 500. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, 8 July 2021 For instance, research from the University of Cambridge highlights how our commute can provide us with a great way to clearly demarcate our professional and personal lives. Adi Gaskell, Forbes, 22 June 2021 An antique table and old-fashioned sofa give additional texture and demarcate the breakfast nook as its own space within the open concept. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, 10 June 2021 During practice, the track had created pods of seats and then put down stickers to demarcate where one pod should start and the other end. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, 27 May 2021

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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The first known use of demarcate was in 1816

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Demarcate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for demarcate



English Language Learners Definition of demarcate

: 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 demarcate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on demarcate

Britannica English: Translation of demarcate for Arabic Speakers


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