sep·​a·​ra·​tion | \ ˌse-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce separation (audio) \

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 separation between continents was imperfect at first. Andrew L. Hipp, Scientific American, "How Oak Trees Evolved to Rule the Forests of the Northern Hemisphere," 15 July 2020 More than 600 Methodist clergy and church members brought charges against Sessions condemning the separation of children from families at the U.S.-Mexico border. al, "Can Jeff Sessions roar back into Senate, or will Trump ruin an otherwise perfect political career?," 10 July 2020 Similarly, 84-year-old Nancy Dwyer of Clinton Township is disheartened over a prolonged separation from her 90-year-old partner, Clement Bowman, who lives in Canada. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "Legislators tell US and Canada government: Make a plan to open the border now," 9 July 2020 While TikTok’s separation from Hong Kong appears to go even further than the moves by US tech firms, several observers argue the decision can’t be read as the company standing up for free speech or pushing back on Beijing’s censorship. Jane Li, Quartz, "TikTok’s Hong Kong exit isn’t a stand against Beijing’s internet censorship," 7 July 2020 The separation from her husband would last until the very end of the war. Jack Yarwood, Washington Post, "Can video games tactfully handle Nazism and its aftermath? These Czech historians say yes.," 6 July 2020 The Daily Mail reported that Bergdorf's separation from L'Oreal happened days after she was announced as the brand's first transgender model. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, "Fact check: An adviser for L'Oreal did not release message critical of white people," 30 June 2020 Many of them oppose Trump because of his derogatory comments about Hispanics and harsh policies toward immigration, most notably the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Alexandra Olson, Washington Post, "‘A slap in the face:’ Goya faces boycott over Trump praise," 10 July 2020 On the one hand, the decisions of the current court could be seen as chipping away at the wall of separation – an extra-textual First Amendment metaphor that often makes religious conservatives bristle. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "Religious liberty’s big week at the Supreme Court," 10 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for separation

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for separation

Last Updated

27 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Separation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for separation


How to pronounce separation (audio)

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 How to pronounce separation (audio) \

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 How to pronounce separation (audio) \

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 How to pronounce separation (audio) \

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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