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 Quickly and easily demarcate your workstation (and show off a little personality) with these easy-to-use peel-and-stick wallpaper sheets. Fiona Tapp, CNN Underscored, "Sharing a home office? Carve out your own space with these handy supplies," 19 Mar. 2021 Scrubs or white coats no longer demarcate eligible professions in photos; many of the newest shot recipients are young. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "People Are Keeping Their Vaccines Secret," 11 Mar. 2021 Perhaps nowhere else in America can the unequal toll of the virus be felt more dramatically than in Los Angeles, where suburban sprawl and freeways demarcate the neighborhoods of the haves and the have-nots. New York Times, "‘We Are Forced to Live in These Conditions’: In Los Angeles, Virus Ravages Overcrowded Homes," 23 Jan. 2021 The Live on Patrol video, recorded Nov. 11, shows the section of roadway where Leonard was lying doesn’t have a white line to demarcate the roadway from the shoulder. Liz Sawyer, Star Tribune, "Video shows Ramsey County sheriff driving past struck pedestrian," 2 Dec. 2020 An empathetic employee went inside and came back out with a roll of tape to demarcate six-foot squares. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "Desperate Gamers Camp Out in the Pandemic for $700 GPUs," 13 Nov. 2020 This lingering response, typical of past serious epidemics, will demarcate the intermediate period. Nicholas Christakis, WSJ, "The Long Shadow of the Pandemic: 2024 and Beyond," 16 Oct. 2020 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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of demarcate was in 1816

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Last Updated

27 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Demarcate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for demarcate



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 demarcate (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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