dis·​sect dī-ˈsekt How to pronounce dissect (audio)
di- How to pronounce dissect (audio) ˈdī-ˌsekt How to pronounce dissect (audio)
dissected; dissecting; dissects

transitive verb

: to separate into pieces : expose the several parts of (something, such as an animal) for scientific examination
dissect an earthworm
dissecting flowers
: to analyze and interpret minutely
dissect a problem
di- How to pronounce dissect (audio)
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.
Recent Examples on the Web From heart-to-heart chats with incredible guests to dissecting the latest trends and navigating life’s quirks, every episode is full of laughter, and inspiration. Okla Jones, Essence, 6 June 2024 Early on Watson employs the techniques of his partner for sizing a person up with a single glance and delivering a classic, dispassionate autopsy dissecting their finer and lesser points. Christopher Smith, Orange County Register, 5 June 2024 While plenty of viewers delight in dissecting the fashion choices made by their favorite A-listers, others have bristled at the evening’s opulence. Callie Holtermann, New York Times, 7 May 2024 Bill of the Month is a crowdsourced investigation by KFF Health News and NPR that dissects and explains medical bills. Bram Sable-Smith, CBS News, 24 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for dissect 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dissect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dissect was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near dissect

Cite this Entry

“Dissect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissect. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to cut up (as a plant or animal) into separate parts for examination and study
: to make a careful examination of
dissect a problem

from Latin dissectus, past participle of dissecare "to cut apart," from dis- "apart" and secare "to cut" — related to insect, section

Medical Definition


transitive verb
: 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
dissector noun

More from Merriam-Webster on dissect

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