separate

1 of 3

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
2
a
: 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

separate

2 of 3

adjective

sep·​a·​rate ˈse-p(ə-)rət How to pronounce separate (audio)
1
a
: set or kept apart : detached
b
archaic : solitary, secluded
2
a
: not shared with another : individual
separate rooms
b
often capitalized : estranged from a parent body
separate churches
3
a
: existing by itself : autonomous
a separate country
b
: dissimilar in nature or identity
consulted five separate authorities
separateness noun

separate

3 of 3

noun

sep·​a·​rate ˈse-p(ə-)rət How to pronounce separate (audio)
1
2
: an article of dress designed to be worn interchangeably with others to form various costume combinations
usually used in plural
Choose the Right Synonym for separate

Verb

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

Adjective

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
An elephant then separated from its group and attacked him. Escher Walcott, Peoplemag, 10 July 2024 Administrative leave separates the player from his team but the player is still paid and still accrues service time. Michael McCann, Sportico.com, 10 July 2024
Adjective
The intrigue: The five people in the inner circle are now in a separate category from fellow top aides such as Anita Dunn, lawyer Bob Bauer, and Jeff Zients and Ron Klain — Biden's current and former chief of staff. Alex Thompson, Axios, 12 July 2024 This data breach is separate from one disclosed earlier this year by AT&T, the company told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 12 July 2024
Noun
Anna October has also launched a bridal capsule which includes the brand’s signature minimal slip dress styles and separates. Anny Choi, Vogue, 2 July 2024 Go with a pale yellow dress à la Tove or try the colors in separates like Loewe and Armani. Jake Henry Smith, Glamour, 21 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for separate 

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb, Adjective, and Noun

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Adjective

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

Noun

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near separate

Cite this Entry

“Separate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/separate. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

separate

1 of 3 verb
sep·​a·​rate ˈsep-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce separate (audio)
separated; separating
1
a
: to set or keep apart
separate the pages with a slip of paper
b
: to make a distinction between : distinguish
separate fact from fiction
c
: sort entry 2 sense 1
separate mail
d
: to spread widely in space or time : scatter
widely separated homesteads
2
: to end a relationship with that is bound by a contract
separated from the army
3
: to isolate or become isolated from a mixture
separate cream from milk
4
: to become divided or detached : come apart
5
: to cease to live together as a married couple
6
: to go in different directions

separate

2 of 3 adjective
sep·​a·​rate ˈsep-(ə-)rət How to pronounce separate (audio)
1
: set or kept apart
the motel contains fifty separate units
2
: not shared with another : individual
separate rooms
3
: having independent existence
the separate pieces of a puzzle
separately adverb
separateness noun

separate

3 of 3 noun
sep·​a·​rate ˈsep-(ə-)rət How to pronounce separate (audio)
: an article of dress designed to be worn interchangeably with others to form different outfits
usually used in plural

Medical Definition

separate

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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to become isolated from a mixture

Legal Definition

separate

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

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

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