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

Other Words from separate


separateness \ ˈse-​p(ə-​)rət-​nəs How to pronounce separate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for separate

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

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

Examples of separate in a Sentence

Verb 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. Adjective 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. Noun "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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Coopers saw many new building techniques from companies that were either trying to separate and solve a specific issue or trying to solve multiple challenges at the same time. Jennifer Castenson, Forbes, 14 Mar. 2022 Some were trying to separate the two head coaches, but Krabbenhoft appeared to be arguing with Howard as well. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, 22 Feb. 2022 As part of its Covid Zero strategy, Hong Kong is still trying to separate all infected people and their close contacts from the wider community, despite the strain that has placed on hospitals and other resources. Shirley Zhao,, 16 Feb. 2022 Trying to separate fact from fiction in her work can be exhausting, and some visitors may resent being toyed with for the sake of art. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, 19 Jan. 2022 My grandson was bitten while trying to separate them and required medical attention. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2021 The former leader of Hong Kong pro-independence group Studentlocalism was sentenced on Tuesday to a total of 43 months in prison for trying to separate the city from China, and for money laundering. NBC News, 23 Nov. 2021 Although O’Donnell, Luna-Delgado’s husband, was seen by responding officers trying to separate the two women, due to conflicting accounts of what happened all three were cited, police said. Daily Southtown Staff,, 23 Nov. 2021 The former leader of Hong Kong pro-independence group Studentlocalism was sentenced on Tuesday to a total of 43 months in prison for trying to separate the city from China, and for money laundering. Reuters, CNN, 23 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The stop-start function can also be switched off at any time with a button that's separate from the drive modes. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, 12 May 2022 His running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing leader and mayor of southern Davao city, had a formidable lead in the vice presidential race, which is separate from the presidential race. Jim Gomez, ajc, 10 May 2022 Marcos' running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte and mayor of southern Davao city, had a formidable lead in the vice presidential race, which is separate from the presidential race. Editors, USA TODAY, 10 May 2022 Le Guin was determined to keep her domestic life separate from her writing—the one anchored in realism, the other let loose in a magical world of fantasy. Heller Mcalpin, WSJ, 5 May 2022 And toilets themselves would need to be altered to allow a clean urine flow to be kept separate from solid waste. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 5 May 2022 The swap followed lengthy negotiations kept separate from tensions over Russia's Ukraine invasion. Harold Maass, The Week, 28 Apr. 2022 In a briefing for reporters, the officials said that negotiations about Mr. Reed’s fate were kept completely separate from the administration’s efforts to punish Mr. Putin. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 In the case of Monday’s Gin, however, Beefeater kept the distillate separate and bottled it at a higher proof – 50% ABV. Joseph V Micallef, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pineda Pimentel, a 37-year-old military veteran, was previously arrested on Sept. 2 on a separate of rape by force or fear, the Turlock Police Department said. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 10 Sep. 2021 The whole theory of the case here for the Tokyo officials is to keep the Tokyo public separate, and the Olympic public in a bubble so that there wouldn't be cross contamination. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, 27 July 2021 Stephanie Goldberger, 29, also managed to leave Peru and return to Portland last week after securing a seat on a charter flight separate from those organized by the State Department. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, 30 Mar. 2020 When paired together, black and white separates make for a contemporary-cool spin on formalwear. Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, 17 Feb. 2020 Having gained experience in the industry, Givenchy struck out on his own in 1952 with a novel collection of haute separates. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, 3 Dec. 2018 While a silk summer dress or breezy separates may seem the obvious summer wardrobe choice, Olsen proves that all-black, anti-summer dressing can make a heatwave even more scorching. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 30 July 2019 Channeling the breezy vibes of its caftans and lightweight separates, the label’s debut swimwear was created with a holiday spirit in mind. Nandi Howard, Essence, 8 Jan. 2020 Perfectly embodying the style of Rachel Green, the collection includes a range of ribbed turtlenecks, a plaid miniskirt, leather separates, classic white shirting, and leather knee-high boots. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, 18 Sep. 2019 See More

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.

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

Learn More About separate

Time Traveler for separate

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near separate



Separate Baptist

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Statistics for separate

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Separate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for separate


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.

Choose the Right Synonym for separate


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.


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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on separate

Nglish: Translation of separate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of separate for Arabic Speakers


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