sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈse-pə-ˌrāt How to pronounce separate (audio) , ˈse-ˌprāt\
separated; separating

Definition of separate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to set or keep apart : disconnect, sever
b : to make a distinction between : discriminate, distinguish separate religion from magic
c : sort separate mail
d : to disperse in space or time : scatter widely separated homesteads
2 archaic : to set aside for a special purpose : choose, dedicate
3 : to part by a legal separation:
a : to sever conjugal ties with
b : to sever contractual relations with : discharge was separated from the army
4 : to block off : segregate
5a : to isolate from a mixture : extract separate cream from milk
b : to divide into constituent parts
6 : to dislocate (something, such as a shoulder) especially in sports

intransitive verb

1 : to become divided or detached
2a : to sever an association : withdraw
b : to cease to live together as a married couple
3 : to go in different directions
4 : to become isolated from a mixture the crystals separated out


sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈse-p(ə-)rət How to pronounce separate (audio) \

Definition of separate (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : set or kept apart : detached
b archaic : solitary, secluded
2a : not shared with another : individual separate rooms
b often capitalized : estranged from a parent body separate churches
3a : existing by itself : autonomous a separate country
b : dissimilar in nature or identity consulted five separate authorities


sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈse-p(ə-)rət How to pronounce separate (audio) \

Definition of separate (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : offprint
2 : an article of dress designed to be worn interchangeably with others to form various costume combinations usually used in plural

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from separate


separately \ ˈse-​p(ə-​)rət-​lē How to pronounce separately (audio) , ˈse-​pərt-​lē \ adverb
separateness \ ˈse-​p(ə-​)rət-​nəs How to pronounce separateness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for separate

Synonyms: Verb

break up, decouple, disassociate, disconnect, disjoin, disjoint, dissever, dissociate, disunite, divide, divorce, part, ramify, resolve, sever, split, sunder, uncouple, unlink, unyoke

Synonyms: Adjective

different, individual, respective

Antonyms: Verb

join, link, unify, unite

Antonyms: Adjective


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for separate


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


distinct, separate, discrete mean not being each and every one the same. distinct indicates that something is distinguished by the mind or eye as being apart or different from others. two distinct versions separate often stresses lack of connection or a difference in identity between two things. separate rooms discrete strongly emphasizes individuality and lack of connection. broke the job down into discrete stages


separate, part, and divide mean to break into parts or to keep apart. separate may be used when things have been put into groups, or a thing has been removed from a group, or something has been inserted between like things. Separate the good eggs from the bad ones. A fence separates the two yards. part is used when the things to be separated are closely joined in some way. Only death could part the two friends. divide means separating by cutting or breaking into pieces or sections. Divide the pie into six equal portions.

Examples of separate in a Sentence


Though mechanical grain cutters, called reapers, began appearing around 1800, it was with Cyrus H. McCormick's version that agriculture entered the industrial age. Older reapers simply cut and dropped grain; McCormick's cut, separated, and collected it, increasing production and, ultimately, positioning the American Midwest as the breadbasket to the world. Saveur, June/July 2008 Xanthan gum, for instance … is used in bottled salad dressing to slow the settling of the spice particles and keep water and oil from separating. — Kenneth Chang, New York Times, 6 Nov. 2007 The fact is that Washington has relaxed financial regulations under both Democratic and Republican administrations, opening the doors to conflicts of interest between brokers and investment bankers. In 1998, government, despite concerns, refused to separate consulting and auditing business. — Jeff Madrick, New York Times Book Review, 29 Jan. 2006 On July 11 Brinkley's publicist announced the couple had separated. "She has been extremely concerned about the impact of this situation on her children and felt it was very important to protect them and take them away for a little bit," says one of Brinkley's close friends. "She is totally shocked and just devastated." — Ericka Souter et al., People, 31 July 2006 They described the process used to separate cream from milk. A great distance separated the sisters from each other. They walked together to the corner, but then they separated and went their separate ways. The main group separated into several smaller groups. Oil and water separate when combined together. The oil separated from the water. The salt crystals separated out of the liquid.


Today, there are an estimated 30,000 teams playing travel ball, which is entirely separate from more long-standing youth organizations like Little League … — Sara Corbett, New York Times Sports Magazine, June 2006 On my last visit to Lucio, I went with a Spanish TV starlet whose sultry looks helped us land a prime table. Dining at separate tables around us were the Duchess of Badajoz, the king's sister; novelist Mario Vargas Llosa; and a gentleman rumored to be Spain's richest man. — Anya von Bremzen, Saveur, November 2006 A variation of these reactions is reflected in the American deaf community, which is divided into two groups. One rejects the notion that they are disabled. Rather, they claim, they are a separate culture with its own language. The second group defines its deafness as a disability and is more likely to assimilate into the able-bodied world. — Mary Grimley Mason, Working Against Odds, 2004 There are separate restrooms for men and women. The boys have separate rooms. They slept in separate beds. We use the same Internet service provider but have separate accounts. That's an entirely separate issue.


"Women have a very strong sense of what works for them," says Lyn Devon, the New York designer who sells a nuanced line of silk separates and tailored dresses from her SoHo studio. — Jane Herman, Vogue, June 2006

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The buttons on the four corners of the duvet effectively snap the top sheet and top cover together, seamlessly blending the two so they don't get separated during your (hopefully) soundless eight hours of sleep. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "These Top Sheets Snap to Your Duvet, So You Never Get Tangled Up in Bed Again," 22 Feb. 2019 Since reopening this past February, the compound has been the site of public protests — after it was revealed at least 70 children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border were kept there. Aaron Leibowitz, miamiherald, "Harsh prison or cushy camp? Ex-staffers have different takes on life at Homestead shelter," 11 July 2018 Israel, which historically has been separated from the Arab world, could become a land bridge, acting as a corridor for trade between the Gulf States and Europe, according to Feder. David Isaac, Jewish Journal, "Israel and China start conversation about mutual ties," 11 July 2018 Without the presence of gravity, no gas bubbles float to the surface and separate from the mixture—instead all the gas remains to create a foam. Charles W. Dunnill, Scientific American, "Method of Making Oxygen from Water in Zero Gravity Raises Hope for Long-Distance Space Travel," 10 July 2018 Near the bottom rung of the minor leagues, a long path separates players on the Boise Hawks from the MLB All-Star Game. Michael Lycklama, idahostatesman, "They started their careers in Boise. Now three former Hawks are first-time MLB All-Stars.," 9 July 2018 Organizer Josh Miller said doctors have discussed damage to the mental health of immigrant children separated from their families. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With pleas from the public to show compassion, Jim Sensenbrenner calls immigration system a 'mess' during Brookfield town hall," 6 July 2018 Because children can’t be in jail with their parents, more than 2,300 families caught by Border Patrol were separated. Meredith Colias-pete, Post-Tribune, "No deportation flight and no police as more than 100 protest at Gary airport," 6 July 2018 Engineering solutions around this problem will be key to successfully implementing technology in space—with one possibility being using centrifugal forces from rotation of a spacecraft to separate the gases from the solution. Charles W. Dunnill, Scientific American, "Method of Making Oxygen from Water in Zero Gravity Raises Hope for Long-Distance Space Travel," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

However, most states today have separated the two trades, making plumbing separate from heating and cooling work, which requires an HVAC license (heating, ventilation, air conditioning). Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Become a Skilled Tradesperson," 13 Mar. 2019 The old home has a full kitchen and bath, as well as a separate living room, dining room, and sunroom. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "Literary Fans Rejoice! You Can Rent A Suite In F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's Former Home on Airbnb," 21 Feb. 2019 The whales are kept at one location but are owned by four separate companies. Nataliya Vasilyeva, The Seattle Times, "Russian activists raise alarm about captured whales," 5 Feb. 2019 The intelligence committee’s investigation was separate from the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "House Republicans vote to release Russia probe transcripts, plan subpoena for Fusion GPS co-founder," 28 Sep. 2018 Another airline industry analyst, Brett Snyder, points out that airlines rely on a multitude of services to manage their business, many of which are separate from GDS. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "A Hacker Exposed the Ancient Flaw That Makes Airlines So Hackable," 17 Jan. 2019 Will Smith, Victoria Beckham and Reese Witherspoon all have successful YouTube channels that are separate from their Hollywood careers. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Jack Black is launching a new YouTube channel mostly dedicated to gaming," 26 Dec. 2018 The listing also has its own equestrian barn, a separate rustic cabin for camping, a four-bay garage, and heated pool. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Picture-perfect 1880 estate on 60 acres asks $3.9M," 20 Dec. 2018 Your work wardrobe doesn't exist in a universe separate from runway trends. Marie Claire, "Wear it to Work: Fall Florals," 14 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Débora Rosa nails the idea, mixing her snake skirt with black separates. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Shop the Snakeskin Print Trend We're Going All In On," 11 Jan. 2019 The separates were beautifully embellished to match her Anmol jewelry. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Attended Their Friend's Wedding—and Of Course They Looked Spectacular," 12 Dec. 2018 The 23-piece collection is made up of comfortable, wearable separates in neutral shades that will be available from $38 to $248. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Amy Schumer Takes Her Fashion Cred to the Next Level With the New Clothing Line Le Cloud," 27 Nov. 2018 For her first appearance at the WellChild Awards with Prince Harry today, the Duchess of Sussex suited up in chic, all-black separates by Altuzarra. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Wears a Chic Altuzarra Suit to the WellChild Awards with Prince Harry," 4 Sep. 2018 Students filled the Cramton Auditorium dressed in their Thursday best: plaid separates and towering Off-White boots, gold lamé dresses layered under faux fur jackets, kaleidoscopic minis paired with shiny puffer jackets. Ashley Walker, Teen Vogue, "Howard Homecoming's Fashion Show Was a Celebration of Black Culture and Style," 27 Oct. 2018 Fortunately, a great coat can solve that problem, quickly transforming mundane separates to bring you out of any seasonal slump. Anny Choi, Vogue, "Shop Fall’s Best Coats at Every Price Point," 25 Sep. 2018 Paltrow stuck to her elevated preppy-chic style with matching floral separates. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner Prove You're Never Too Old for a Mommy-and-Me Moment," 21 July 2017 From the iconic lion logo jewelry and statement-making carpet coat to classic denim that’ll never go out style and the famed separates (think versatile blouses, skirts, trousers), Anne’s archives are a fashion lover’s dream. Minna Shim, Harper's BAZAAR, "Anne Klein: The Legendary Designer Who Changed The Way American Women Dressed," 15 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'separate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of separate


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


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


1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for separate

Verb, Adjective, and Noun

Middle English, from Latin separatus, past participle of separare, from se- apart + parare to prepare, procure — more at secede, pare

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about separate

Statistics for separate

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for separate

The first known use of separate was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for separate



English Language Learners Definition of separate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause (two or more people or things) to stop being together, joined, or connected : to make (people or things) separate
: to be between (two things or people)
: to stop being together, joined, or connected : to become separate



English Language Learners Definition of separate (Entry 2 of 2)

: not joined, connected, or combined : placed or kept apart
: different from something else : not related


sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈse-pə-ˌrāt How to pronounce separate (audio) \
separated; separating

Kids Definition of separate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to set or keep apart … Jess and Leslie turned and ran … down to the dry creek bed that separated farmland from the woods.— Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia
2 : to make a distinction between Be sure to separate fact from fiction.
3 : to cease to be together : part There was sadness when the friends separated.


sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈse-pə-rət How to pronounce separate (audio) , ˈse-prət\

Kids Definition of separate (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : set apart The motel contains fifty separate units.
2 : not shared : individual We were each busy with our separate projects.
3 : existing independently from each other The company broke up into three separate businesses.


sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈsep-(ə-)ˌrāt How to pronounce separate (audio) \
separated; separating

Medical Definition of separate

transitive verb

1 : to isolate from a mixture : extract
2 : dislocate separated his right shoulder

intransitive verb

: to become isolated from a mixture

Keep scrolling for more


sep·​a·​rate | \ ˈse-pə-ˌrāt How to pronounce separate (audio) \
separated; separating

Legal Definition of separate

transitive verb

: to cause the separation of

intransitive verb

: to undergo a separation the couple separated last year — compare divorce

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on separate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with separate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for separate

Spanish Central: Translation of separate

Nglish: Translation of separate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of separate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on separate

What made you want to look up separate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of authority or knowledge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!