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

Now, Pakenham, who works in the mortgage department of a bank, spots a decorator’s van. Elizabeth Royte, Daily Intelligencer, "George Pakenham is waging a one-man war on air pollution on the Upper West Side.," 10 July 2018 Four-year players who reach this level tend to be more defensively ready in the IQ department. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Purdue rookies Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, Dakota Mathias attempt to find footing at NBA summer league," 9 July 2018 Throughout it all, Calvert — who expects to retire in October — said the community, department and city never stopped supporting him. Lyndsay Winkley,, "SDPD officer gets second shot at long-awaited kidney transplant," 11 July 2018 In Parkland, which does not have a fire or police department, residents rely on both the Coral Springs Fire Department and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Martin Vassolo, miamiherald, "Flawed 911 system ‘absolutely’ affected response to Parkland shooting," 11 July 2018 The court’s docket is filled with cases involving the myriad government departments and agencies that are headquarted in Washington. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "A Watershed Moment in American History," 10 July 2018 The state auditor found in 2015 that 3,173 rape evidence kits were languishing in local police departments and the Kentucky State Police crime lab. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "Supreme Court nominee, rape kits and rent: What to know Tuesday," 10 July 2018 The Bexar court sets the budget for a county of nearly 2 million residents — for which the median household income is $52,353, census data show — while overseeing numerous offices and departments within county government. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Bexar commissioners OK salary increase, seek military transition center bids," 10 July 2018 Basualdo, 53, heads that contemporary department and has forged a deep relationship with Nauman, acquiring several of the artist’s works for the PMA collection. Stephan Salisbury,, "He's shaping the Philadelphia Museum of Art's future - and has a past you wouldn't believe," 9 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

15 Oct 2018

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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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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).


one that holds something together

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