de·​part·​ment | \di-ˈpärt-mənt \

Definition of department 

1a : a distinct sphere : province that's not my department

b : a category consisting especially of a measurable activity or attribute lacking in the trustworthiness department— Garrison Keillor

2 : a functional or territorial division: such as

a : a major administrative division of a government

b : a major territorial administrative subdivision

c : a division of a college or school giving instruction in a particular subject

d : a major division of a business

e : a section of a department store handling a particular kind of merchandise

f : a territorial subdivision made for the administration and training of military units

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Other Words from department

departmental \ di-​ˌpärt-​ˈmen-​tᵊl , ˌdē-​ \ adjective
departmentally \ -​tə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of department in a Sentence

Your letter has been forwarded to our sales department. When you get to the hospital, go directly to the X-ray department. the university's math and science departments the department of modern languages She joined the town's police department.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Chief Isaac said the police department is re-evaluating its Taser and use-of-force polices, which currently permit people from ages 7 to 70 to be tased. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "The Off-Duty Cop Who Tased an 11-Year-Old Said "This Is Why There's No Grocery Stores in the Black Community"," 6 Sep. 2018 Some critics say the department is a redundant use of taxpayer funds and question whether its duties should be taken over by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office. Gregory Pratt,, "County officials defend Forest Preserves police in wake of man harassing woman over Puerto Rican flag shirt," 13 July 2018 The department is currently under investigation by the NCAA for its role in the Nassar abuse scandal. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State to name Bill Beekman permanent athletic director on Monday," 13 July 2018 The public works department is completing work on Kansas City’s first parking protected bike lanes along Armour Boulevard from Broadway to The Paseo. Sarah Gish, kansascity, "Will Kansas City ever be bike-friendly? The city is about to roll out a plan," 13 July 2018 The department was among more than 150 other state and local law enforcement agencies participating the campaign. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "Naperville News Digest," 13 July 2018 The department overseen by Hornsey has long been rife with problems. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Uber senior executive resigns after racial discrimination allegations," 11 July 2018 Other lawmakers, including Board President Malia Cohen, said the commission was in need of a new direction at a time when the police department is in need of reform surrounding its approach to the use-of-force and other policies. Dominic Fracassa,, "Joe Marshall gets another shot at SF Police Commission — needs supes’ OK," 10 July 2018 Dan DeSousa, director of animal services, said the department was able to rescue or shelter about 30 animals from the Alpine blaze that started on Friday morning. Karen Pearlman,, "A few animals from West Fire waiting to be reunited with families," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'department.' 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 department

1735, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for department

French département, from Old French, act of dividing, from departir

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Statistics for department

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for department

The first known use of department was in 1735

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English Language Learners Definition of department

: one of the major parts of a company, organization, government, or school

: an area in a store where a particular kind of product is sold

: a subject or activity that a person is interested in or responsible for


de·​part·​ment | \di-ˈpärt-mənt \

Kids Definition of department

: a special part or division of an organization (as a government or college)

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