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 Later, the company discovered another software glitch — one that would have affected the separation of the crew module from the service module. Washington Post, "No one thought SpaceX would beat Boeing to get astronauts to the space station," 21 May 2020 But before the coronavirus outbreak, some critics in El Salvador warned that Bukele's disruptive style was increasingly eroding the separation of powers and threatening the country's fragile democracy. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, "Savior or strongman? El Salvador's millennial president defies his own government on coronavirus policy," 21 May 2020 Murphy wrote in his dissent that the ruling will violate the separation of powers by forcing courts to answer questions on whether states should raise taxes, issue school vouchers and replace things like textbooks and heating and cooling systems. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Despite settlement, Detroit literacy lawsuit heads back to court," 19 May 2020 The complaint contends that the state’s discretion over matters of quarantine and isolation is vague and violates the separation of powers. Jim Woods,, "Ohio gyms sue state over reopening plan that leaves them out," 13 May 2020 So in that sense ... the local government is respecting that separation of church and state. Peggy O’hare,, "COVID-19 has altered church, religious services, but worship still offers comfort amid coronavirus," 7 May 2020 Tyrants, the tradition of political theory teaches us, thrive on the separation of citizens from one another. Corey Robin, The New York Review of Books, "What People Power Looks Like in a Pandemic Democracy," 13 Apr. 2020 After a three-year war, the liberal principles of religious toleration and the separation of church and state triumphed. The Economist, "Bello Latin America’s new war of religion," 6 Feb. 2020 Thursday's unprecedented return was made possible through a court ruling issued last September by the federal judge overseeing the case surrounding the separation of migrant families by the Trump administration. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "Migrant parents deported without their children make historic return to the U.S.," 23 Jan. 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

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Separation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 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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