1 of 3

noun (1)

di·​vorce də-ˈvȯrs How to pronounce divorce (audio)
 also  dī-
law : the action or an instance of legally dissolving (see dissolve entry 1 sense 1d) a marriage
: separation, severance
divorce of the secular and the spiritual


2 of 3


divorced; divorcing

transitive verb

: to legally dissolve one's marriage with : to end marriage with (one's spouse) by divorce (see divorce entry 1 sense 1)
She divorced her husband.
: to dissolve the marriage contract between
They were divorced last year.
They are getting divorced.
: to make or keep separate : separate
divorce church from state
media narratives divorced from reality

intransitive verb

law : to obtain a divorce
They divorced two years later.
divorcement noun


3 of 3

noun (2)

di·​vor·​cé də-ˌvȯr-ˈsā How to pronounce divorcé (audio) -ˈsē How to pronounce divorcé (audio)
: a divorced man
Choose the Right Synonym for divorce

separate, part, divide, sever, sunder, divorce mean to become or cause to become disunited or disjointed.

separate may imply any of several causes such as dispersion, removal of one from others, or presence of an intervening thing.

separated her personal life from her career

part implies the separating of things or persons in close union or association.

vowed never to part

divide implies separating into pieces or sections by cutting or breaking.

civil war divided the nation

sever implies violence especially in the removal of a part or member.

a severed limb

sunder suggests violent rending or wrenching apart.

a city sundered by racial conflict

divorce implies separating two things that commonly interact and belong together.

cannot divorce scientific research from moral responsibility

Examples of divorce in a Sentence

Noun (1) Since getting a divorce, she has been raising her children alone. They went through a lengthy divorce. Their marriage ended in divorce. Financial problems are a leading cause of divorce. Verb After years of unhappiness, she decided to divorce him. They both agreed it was best to divorce. Their constitution divorces church and state.
Recent Examples on the Web
After filing for divorce from O.J. in 1992, Nicole experienced a brief moment of excitement and independence, including dating and living on her own with their two children, Sydney and Justin. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 2 June 2024 Jolie and Pitt have been legally unmarried — a.k.a. single — since 2019 but have yet to finalize details of their divorce. Alexandra Del Rosario, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2024
Her parents divorced during the Depression, and Paige’s mother raised her and her sister alone. Gina Piccalo, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2024 Whitley and Simpson were married for over a decade and shared three children before the pair divorced in 1979, two years after Simpson met and began dating Nicole Brown, who he was later accused — and acquitted — of murdering in 1994. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 1 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for divorce 

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

Word History


Noun (1) and Verb

Middle English divorse, from Anglo-French, from Latin divortium, from divertere, divortere to divert, to leave one's husband

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of divorce was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near divorce

Cite this Entry

“Divorce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divorce. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 noun
di·​vorce də-ˈvōrs How to pronounce divorce (audio)
: the action or an instance of legally ending a marriage
: complete separation


2 of 3 verb
divorced; divorcing
: to end marriage with one's spouse by divorce
: to cancel the marriage contract between two spouses
: to make or keep separate : separate, disunite
divorcement noun


3 of 3 noun
di·​vor·​cé də-ˌvōr-ˈsā How to pronounce divorcé (audio) -ˌvȯr- How to pronounce divorcé (audio)
: a divorced man

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
: the dissolution of a valid marriage granted especially on specified statutory grounds (as adultery) arising after the marriage compare annulment

Note: The most common grounds for divorce are absence from the marital home, drug or alcohol addiction, adultery, cruelty, conviction of a crime, desertion, insanity, and nonsupport.

absolute divorce
: a divorce that completely and permanently dissolves the marital relationship and terminates marital rights (as property rights) and obligations (as fidelity)
divorce a mensa et thoro \ -​ˌā-​ˈmen-​sə-​ˌet-​ˈthȯr-​ō, -​ˌä-​ˈmen-​sä-​ˌet-​ˈthō-​rō \
: a separation governed by a court order : legal separation
divorce a vinculo matrimonii \ -​ˌā-​ˈviŋ-​kyu̇-​ˌlō-​ˌma-​trə-​ˈmō-​nē-​ˌī, -​ˌä-​ˈviŋ-​kü-​ˌlō-​ˌmä-​trē-​ˈmō-​nē-​ˌē \
: absolute divorce in this entry
limited divorce
: an intentional cessation of cohabitation between spouses : separation
no-fault divorce
: an absolute divorce that is not based on either spouse's fault and that is granted usually on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown or when the spouses have lived apart for a statutorily specified period of time


2 of 2 verb
divorced; divorcing

transitive verb

: to dissolve the marriage of (a spouse) by judgment or decree of divorce
: to sever the marital relationship with (a spouse) by means of a judgment or decree of divorce

intransitive verb

: to obtain a divorce


Middle French, from Latin divortium, from divortere, divertere to leave one's marriage partner, from di- away, apart + vertere to turn

More from Merriam-Webster on divorce

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