dis·​sect | \dī-ˈsekt also di-, ˈdī-ˌ \

Definition of dissect 

transitive verb

1 : to separate into pieces : expose the several parts of (something, such as an animal) for scientific examination dissect an earthworm dissecting flowers

2 : to analyze and interpret minutely dissect a problem

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Other Words from dissect

dissector \ -​ˈsek-​tər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for dissect

analyze, dissect, break down mean to divide a complex whole into its parts or elements. analyze suggests separating or distinguishing the component parts of something (such as a substance, a process, a situation) so as to discover its true nature or inner relationships. analyzed the collected data dissect suggests a searching analysis by laying bare parts or pieces for individual scrutiny. commentators dissected every word of the speech break down implies a reducing to simpler parts or divisions. break down the budget

Examples of dissect in a Sentence

We dissected a frog in science class. She dissected each point of his argument. We dissected the poem in class. The city is dissected by a network of highways.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Rather than accept established explanations for natural phenomena, Willughby asked questions, made careful observations, and dissected countless dead creatures to see what made them tick. David Holahan, The Christian Science Monitor, "'The Wonderful Mr. Willughby' profiles a pioneer of ornithology and early scientist," 12 July 2018 And the two eventually faced off in court, during which time the U.K. newspapers dissected every salacious detail of Scott’s testimony. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Sex, Lies, and Bunnies in A Very English Scandal," 3 July 2018 Another part of her life that gets dissected by the public is her professional life as a psychic medium. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, ""Long Island Medium" Theresa Caputo Shuts Down Critics Who Say Her Readings Are Fake," 7 May 2018 For each leader, the meeting represents a major gamble, and its outcome will be dissected around the globe for a sense of whether one of the world’s greatest security threats -- Kim’s nuclear arsenal -- can be eliminated. David Tweed, Bloomberg.com, "Trump, Kim Voice Optimism Over Path to Peace as Summit Opens," 12 June 2018 Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez dissect the Detroit Lions' 2018 NFL draft class, and choose their favorite Lions pick Saturday, April 28. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Can Luke Willson be the Detroit Lions' next Eric Ebron?," 18 May 2018 The mistakes occurred as the agency attempts to manage and develop policies for coping with the opioid crisis, a task that can be accomplished only with the help of accurate prescribing data that is dissected for usage trends. Ed Silverman, STAT, "FDA admonishes big data provider over error concerning opioid prescriptions," 17 May 2018 The 25-year-old singer's music video had plenty of imagery that was dissected by the internet, breaking down every single reference in the mesmerizing video. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande Sparks Pregnancy Rumors with "God Is a Woman" Music Video," 13 July 2018 The film takes a broad look at all 2,000 miles of border and dissects issues along the way. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "'The Wall' shows reality of U.S.-Mexico border amid immigration debate," 13 Apr. 2018

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

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for dissect

Latin dissectus, past participle of dissecare to cut apart, from dis- + secare to cut — more at saw

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Statistics for dissect

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dissect

The first known use of dissect was in 1598

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More Definitions for dissect



English Language Learners Definition of dissect

: to cut (a plant or dead animal) into separate parts in order to study it

: to study or examine (something) closely and carefully

: to divide (something) into parts


dis·​sect | \di-ˈsekt \
dissected; dissecting

Kids Definition of dissect

: to cut or take apart especially for examination We dissected a flower in science class.


transitive verb
dis·​sect | \dis-ˈekt; dī-ˈsekt, ˈdī-ˌ \

Medical Definition of dissect 

: to cut so as to separate into pieces or to expose the several parts of (as an animal or a cadaver) for scientific examination specifically : to separate or follow along natural lines of cleavage (as through connective tissue) dissect out the regional lymph nodes a dissecting aneurysm

intransitive verb

: to make a medical dissection

Other Words from dissect

dissector \ -​ər \ noun

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