seg·​re·​ga·​tion | \ˌse-gri-ˈgā-shən \

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

To the naked eye, the musicians were a jovial fraternity of equals, free from the trappings of segregation or status. Marc Myers, WSJ, "A Great Day in Harlem, Revisited," 2 Nov. 2018 Phylicia was drawn to theater, Debbie to dance—and despite growing up under segregation, they were always encouraged. Susan Fales-hill, Town & Country, "How Sisters Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen Have Raised a Powerful Family of Artists," 17 Oct. 2018 The Brown ruling simply declared school segregation policies violated the 14th Amendment, implicitly leaving it to the states and lower courts to sort out the consequences. Bill Mears, Fox News, "The 'forgotten' Supreme Court decision and its impact on our politics," 9 Sep. 2018 This is Part 3 of Learning Together: an occasional series on efforts to address segregation. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Keep the test!' A debate flares over exam-based public high schools.," 6 July 2018 Although there were no Jim Crow laws in Canada, segregation was still practiced informally and New Glasgow’s Roseland Theatre expected black patrons to sit on a separate balcony, according to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Joseph Hincks, Time, "Google Doodle Celebrates Canadian Civil Rights Icon Viola Desmond," 6 July 2018 As in other northern states, segregation was not enforced by laws, but in practice; Hartford’s black and white communities were very separate. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian, "Racism Kept Connecticut’s Beaches White Up Through the 1970s," 2 July 2018 Meredith, who defied segregation to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1962, completed the march from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., after treatment of his wounds. Elizabeth Finny, miamiherald, "He marched for civil rights — and wrote a song about pastrami. Sherwood Ross has died at 85," 1 July 2018 After emancipation, Jim Crow-era laws mandated segregation, though blacks could enter white spaces with permission., "We should think deeply about the Alison Ettel viral video — and why it matters," 28 June 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for segregation

The first known use of segregation was in 1555

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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 \

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 \

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 \

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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