de·​seg·​re·​gate | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈse-gri-ˌgāt How to pronounce desegregate (audio) \
desegregated; desegregating; desegregates

Definition of desegregate

transitive verb

: to eliminate segregation in specifically : to free of any law, provision, or practice requiring isolation of the members of a particular race in separate units

Examples of desegregate in a Sentence

efforts to desegregate the town's buses Eventually the city's schools desegregated.
Recent Examples on the Web Dozens of Black families across the city took King’s message as a charge: The schools should be desegregated—that was the law—and their children should be the ones to desegregate them. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Quiet Desegregation of Alabama’s Public Schools," 29 Sep. 2020 The closure lasted five years, until the Supreme Court ordered the county schools to reopen and desegregate. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, "The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning," 28 Sep. 2020 Ruby Bridges, who made history in 1960 as the first African-American student to desegregate an elementary school in the South. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "Ruby Bridges takes over Selena Gomez's Instagram, shares new footage from 1960 school desegregation," 14 June 2020 Equipped with training from the Rev. James Lawson's nonviolence workshops, the group helped Nashville become one of the first Southern cities to desegregate restaurants. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "‘John Lewis: Good Trouble’: 5 lessons from the documentary that still apply today," 3 July 2020 Kennedy faulted Markey for his initial opposition to the effort to desegregate the Boston Public Schools beginning in the 1970s. Steve Leblanc, Anchorage Daily News, "Markey defeats Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary," 2 Sep. 2020 President Harry Truman moved to desegregate the military, and even President Richard Nixon, who was captured on tape making racist remarks, advanced the desegregation of schools and affirmative action in employment. Politifact Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Fact-checking Donald Trump's 2020 Republican National Convention speech," 29 Aug. 2020 The men eventually agreed that one woman, Daisy Bates, who led the drive to desegregate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, could make a public pledge of loyalty. CBS News, "The microphone at the March on Washington was dominated by men. But it might never have happened without Dorothy Height.," 28 Aug. 2020 According to historical information from Berkeley schools, the school board voted unanimously to desegregate all 14 of the district's elementary schools on Jan. 15, 1968. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Kamala Harris was part of the second integrated class in elementary school," 17 Aug. 2020

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

1949, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about desegregate

Time Traveler for desegregate

Time Traveler

The first known use of desegregate was in 1949

See more words from the same year

Statistics for desegregate

Last Updated

15 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Desegregate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for desegregate


How to pronounce desegregate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of desegregate

: to end a policy that keeps people of different races apart : to end a policy of segregation


de·​seg·​re·​gate | \ dē-ˈse-gri-ˌgāt How to pronounce desegregate (audio) \
desegregated; desegregating

Kids Definition of desegregate

: to end by law the separation of members of different races desegregate schools


transitive verb
de·​seg·​re·​gate | \ dē-ˈse-grə-ˌgāt How to pronounce desegregate (audio) \
desegregated; desegregating

Legal Definition of desegregate

: to eliminate segregation in specifically : to free from any law, provision, or practice requiring isolation of the members of a particular race in separate units

intransitive verb

: to become desegregated

More from Merriam-Webster on desegregate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for desegregate

Nglish: Translation of desegregate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on desegregate

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
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!