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 Two special zones — like the two waterfalls that now fill the footprint of the twin towers at ground zero — are demarcated, one of them raised, with a ramp. Brian Seibert, New York Times, "Review: Wendy Whelan and Maya Beiser’s Meditation on 9/11," 1 Aug. 2019 Even in optimistic American municipalities that have demarcated bike lanes on the street or paved a few bike paths, cars come first, and drivers rarely look out for cyclists. Dan Kois, The New Yorker, "How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman," 13 Sep. 2019 It was revealed to have bugged the Timor-Leste government in 2004 during negotiations on how to demarcate the two countries’ maritime border, which traverses oil-and-gas fields that have been the young country’s economic lifeline. The Economist, "Twenty years after its vote for independence, Timor-Leste looks back," 1 Sep. 2019 One of his first moves in office was to transfer responsibilities for demarcating indigenous lands from the Brazilian Ministry of Justice to the decidedly pro-development Ministry of Agriculture. Catesby Holmes, The Conversation, "The Amazon is burning: 4 essential reads on Brazil’s vanishing rainforest," 23 Aug. 2019 Stones wrapped in rag paper demarcate the gallery’s perimeter, suggesting a sacred site and nodding to both artists’ concern with boundaries., "An artist’s love letter to feminist forebears," 17 July 2019 Passing a wooden structure demarcating the boundary of the reserve, the delegation arrived just as fishermen began to pull up the massive net, which turned out to be chock full of catfish and carp. Stefan Lovgren, National Geographic, "River sanctuaries help giant fish recover in Southeast Asia," 25 Apr. 2019 New York City tried something similar, using paint, rubber curb and bollards to demarcate the turn lane. Rachel Swan,, "SF redesigns busy intersections as 2019 traffic fatalities outpace last year," 29 Aug. 2019 Chandeliers with arched arms hang from the ceiling, demarcated by hundreds of handwritten paper price tags that dangle in the air like tea bags. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post, "Sales from a bygone time: The Brass Knob antique store to close after 38 years," 12 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for demarcate

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for demarcate

The first known use of demarcate was in 1816

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on demarcate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for demarcate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with demarcate

Spanish Central: Translation of demarcate

Britannica English: Translation of demarcate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on demarcate

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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