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)

Keep scrolling for more

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

Although Trump reversed course on the family separation program after public outcry last month, the issue continues to inspire emotional debate on both sides. Vikki Ortiz,, "'Chicago is the lighthouse': Local Catholic leaders take the lead in supporting immigrants," 13 July 2018 The Trump administration has kept the public in the dark about how many people have been affected by its family-separation policy. Sarah Nechamkin, The Cut, "Exactly How Many Separated Immigrant Families Have Been Reunited?," 10 July 2018 In light of the countless stories of cruel arrests and detainments, and the outcry over the abuses of Trump's family-separation policy, their cause is picking up steam., "Cynthia Nixon Takes On President Trump & The White House Over ICE," 9 July 2018 After public outcry over the separations, President Donald Trump adjusted the policy on June 20 so that families would be held in custody together. Kate Morrissey,, "Illegal border crossings decrease for the first time in 2018," 6 July 2018 The Atlanta march was one of the more than 700 planned to take place across the country as progressive organizations asked people to take to the streets to express their concern with the family-separation policy. Danny Robbins, ajc, "Thousands rally in Atlanta to protect immigration policy," 30 June 2018 Bethany, which has publicly scolded Trump's family-separation policy, has taken in $853,00 from the DeVos family over a 14-year period. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Bethany Christian Services condemns Trump policy, despite ties to DeVos," 30 June 2018 While President Trump’s administration abandoned the family-separation policy last week, protests across the nation, including in Philadelphia, are planned Saturday to call for the end of all forms of family detention. Patricia Madej,, "6 arrested, cited during demonstration outside Philly ICE building," 29 June 2018 In just the past week, both Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller have reportedly been heckled at Mexican restaurants over the family-separation policy. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "A good offense may be best defense for House GOP," 25 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of separation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about separation

Share separation

Phrases Related to separation

separation of church and state

Statistics for separation

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for separation

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more


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)

Keep scrolling for more

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 make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

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!