seg·​re·​ga·​tion | \ ˌse-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce segregation (audio) \

Definition of segregation

1 : the act or process of segregating : the state of being segregated
2a : the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means
b : the separation for special treatment or observation of individuals or items from a larger group segregation of gifted children into accelerated classes
3 : the separation of allelic genes that occurs typically during meiosis

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Examples of segregation in a Sentence

They fought to end the segregation of public schools. the segregation of men and women
Recent Examples on the Web Brown, which ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional, was met with fierce resistance from a large part of the U.S. population. WSJ, "The Case for and Against Court Packing," 20 Oct. 2020 The Court explicitly declined to consider whether segregation is also unconstitutional under substantive due process. TheWeek, "Barrett showed her hand by affirming mixed-race marriage but not same-sex marriage and birth control, SCOTUS expert says," 14 Oct. 2020 Present-day mistreatment is harder to quantify than segregation or the atrocities of events such as the Tuskegee Study, in which doctors withheld diagnosis and treatment of syphilis from Black men for decades. Emily Woodruff,, "Side effects, safety, trust: 5 things we learned from coronavirus vaccine experts," 27 Jan. 2021 The result was the premature ending of Reconstruction in 1876 and the onset of murder and mayhem directed against blacks, followed by the establishment of the system of Jim Crow segregation, which has scarred our contemporary history to this day. WSJ, "‘With Malice Toward None’ Worked Badly for Blacks," 24 Jan. 2021 More work is needed to make Dallas a more inclusive community — compared to the current de facto segregation that marks what’s often referred to as the North-South gap, panelists said. Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News, "Dallas mayor and police chief joined panel to examine Capitol riot and violence," 20 Jan. 2021 It’s part of the fabric of American history, starting with slavery and continuing through the Civil War and segregation era. Tal Kopan,, "Kamala Harris’ inauguration offers counterpoint to insurrection," 19 Jan. 2021 Architecture is complicit in segregation, othering, and displacement, and Joburg is such a profound example of this. Sarah Khan, ELLE Decor, "How Architecture Can Be a Force for Social Justice," 19 Jan. 2021 This was the year of the Freedom Riders, when young activists headed into the Jim Crow South to challenge the segregation of bus terminals -- and frequently faced a brutal response from local law enforcement. oregonlive, "Martin Luther King Jr. challenged Oregonians 60 years ago to find a way to live together -- ‘or perish as fools’," 18 Jan. 2021

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

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for segregation

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The first known use of segregation was in 1555

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Statistics for segregation

Last Updated

20 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Segregation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for segregation



English Language Learners Definition of segregation

: the practice or policy of keeping people of different races, religions, etc., separate from each other


seg·​re·​ga·​tion | \ ˌse-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce segregation (audio) \

Kids Definition of segregation

: the practice or policy of separating a race, class, or group from the rest of society


seg·​re·​ga·​tion | \ ˌseg-ri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce segregation (audio) \

Medical Definition of segregation

: the separation of allelic genes that occurs typically during meiosis

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seg·​re·​ga·​tion | \ ˌse-gri-ˈgā-shən How to pronounce segregation (audio) \

Legal Definition of segregation

1 : separation of individuals or groups and especially racial groups — compare desegregation
de facto segregation
: segregation of racial groups that arises as a result of economic, social, or other factors rather than by operation or enforcement of laws or other official state action
de jure segregation
: segregation intended or mandated by law or otherwise intentionally arising from state action

Note: De jure segregation is illegal.

2 : separate confinement of prisoners within a penal institution

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