de·​part·​ment | \ di-ˈpärt-mənt How to pronounce department (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from department

departmental \ di-​ˌpärt-​ˈmen-​tᵊl How to pronounce departmental (audio) , ˌdē-​ \ adjective
departmentally \ di-​ˌpärt-​ˈmen-​tə-​lē How to pronounce departmentally (audio) , ˌdē-​ \ 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Ocean City Police responded to the scene at about 7:15 a.m., according to a tweet from the department. Christine Condon,, "Body washes ashore on Ocean City beach," 27 Oct. 2020 The officer who fired on the couple has been terminated from the department, and federal authorities have been called in to assist in the investigation. Clifford Ward,, "Waukegan police shooting victim says she begged for their lives: ‘Please don’t shoot, we have a baby’," 27 Oct. 2020 Other suggestions from the department include virtual costume parties, and a scary movie night with household members. Paul Wedding, Chron, "Cy-Fair COVID count still on the rise," 27 Oct. 2020 Louisville protesters have demanded since May that the three officers who shot their weapons be fired from the department and charged for her death. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville protest at Daniel Cameron's house was a 'successful occupation' with no arrests," 24 Oct. 2020 The council did, however, vote to reallocate $1.1 million from the police department to other safety and health services in June. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, "Minneapolis residents ask city council to reduce gun violence," 23 Oct. 2020 Banks must secure a waiver from the department to continue handling such funds after an admission of criminal conduct. Greg Farrell,, "Goldman Admits Role in Record $1.6 Billion 1MDB Bribe Spree," 22 Oct. 2020 But frustrated workers who have been unable to get answers from the department’s staff about delays in benefits have besieged their legislators. Dan Walters,, "California’s sorry performance in unemployment claims adds to the misery," 22 Oct. 2020 An officer from the police department’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which formed in August because of the rise in violence, interviewed Mr. Unno but did not consider the attack to be motivated by race. John Leland, New York Times, "He Was a Rising Jazz Pianist. Then His N.Y.C. Dreams Were Shattered.," 22 Oct. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about department

Time Traveler for department

Time Traveler

The first known use of department was in 1735

See more words from the same year

Statistics for department

Last Updated

30 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Department.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for department


How to pronounce department (audio)

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 How to pronounce department (audio) \

Kids Definition of department

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on department

What made you want to look up department? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!