sep·​a·​ra·​tion | \ˌse-pə-ˈrā-shən \

Definition of separation 

1 : the act or process of separating : the state of being separated

2a : a point, line, or means of division

b : an intervening space : gap the separation between wheel spokes

3a : cessation of cohabitation between a married couple by mutual agreement or judicial decree

b : termination of a contractual relationship (such as employment or military service)

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Examples of separation in a Sentence

After a separation of 30 years, she visited her family in Cuba. Moving away meant separation from his family.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Department of Justice has negotiated an agreement that covers three lawsuits filed against the government over the family-separation policy. Dara Lind, Vox, "As many as 1,000 parents separated from their children are getting a second chance to stay in the US," 13 Sep. 2018 The House nevertheless pressed forward with a vote on the bill that would have funded Trump’s border wall, offered young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, and partially addressed the family-separation crisis at the southwest border. Washington Post,, "Trump urges quick action on immigration, changing course once again," 6 July 2018 The family-separation issue has been polling badly for the White House anyway. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "5 things we learned from Melania Trump's visit to Arizona," 28 June 2018 But in the end the legislative branch must enforce its own subpoenas and the justice department must comply with that otherwise our separation of powers and checks and balances is really in trouble. Fox News, "Meadows, Dershowitz react after Lisa Page defies subpoena," 12 July 2018 A year ago — just after San Diego’s gay pride parade and festival concluded — Sevier sued the members of Congress, claiming that the rainbow flag violates the Constitution’s separation of church and state. Joshua Stewart,, "Rainbow flag lawsuit enters appellate court in its second year," 11 July 2018 Guilfoyle and Villency, who had a son together, announced their separation in June 2009 and eventually divorced as well., "Kimberly Guilfoyle — SF’s former first lady — now spends time at White House," 8 July 2018 What happens in a theater performance is defined by its separation from the actual world, by that proverbial fourth wall, which makes the fiction of the stage real. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Behind the scenes at Music Circus: "The better you are at your job, the less people notice"," 6 July 2018 All of the buzz surrounding their separation sparked many questions from fans. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Christina El Moussa Gets Heartbreakingly Honest About Her Divorce From Tarek," 2 July 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for separation

The first known use of separation was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for separation



English Language Learners Definition of separation

: the act of separating people or things or the state of being separated

: a situation in which a husband and wife live apart from each other


sep·​a·​ra·​tion | \ˌse-pə-ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of separation

1 : the act of setting or pulling apart : the state of being set or pulled apart

2 : a point or line at which something is divided

3 : a space between The buildings have a narrow separation.


sep·​a·​ra·​tion | \ˌsep-ə-ˈrā-shən \

Medical Definition of separation 

1 : the process of isolating or extracting from or of becoming isolated from a mixture also : the resulting state

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sep·​a·​ra·​tion | \ˌse-pə-ˈrā-shən \

Legal Definition of separation 

1 : cessation of cohabitation between a married couple by mutual agreement with intent that it be permanent also : legal separation — compare divorce

Note: In some cases in which the estrangement is extreme, a separation is considered to have occurred even when the couple retain the same residence if they have stopped communicating and engaging in sexual relations and intend to be separated.

2 : termination of a contractual relationship (as employment or military service)

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Comments on separation

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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