sun·​der | \ˈsən-dər \
sundered; sundering\ ˈsən-​d(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of sunder 

transitive verb

: to break apart or in two : separate by or as if by violence or by intervening time or space

intransitive verb

: to become parted, disunited, or severed

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for sunder

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

Examples of sunder in a Sentence

a family sundered by scandal during the cold war East and West Berlin were sundered by an impenetrable wall

Recent Examples on the Web

The minds of many viewers will immediately drift away from the fictional narrative and toward the actual events of recent weeks, along the same boundary, where children have been sundered from their immigrant parents and housed in detention centers. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Borderland Brutality of “Sicario 2: Soldado”," 9 July 2017 About one-fifth of the core structural columns in each tower were sundered by the planes. New York Times, "The Last 9/11 Fire Chief Bows Out," 10 July 2018 Alanoud Aljalahma, a 22-year-old premedical student, recounts how the rift between the Gulf’s royal clans threatened to sunder her own family. The Economist, "Cold war in the heatWhy Gulf countries are feuding with Qatar," 21 June 2018 No matter what happens in the legal fight, the relationship between Ms. Redstone and Mr. Moonves—until recently characterized by friendly lunches and public statements of support—has likely been irrevocably sundered. Joe Flint, WSJ, "Once Allies, Two Media Chiefs Go to War Over the Future of CBS," 28 May 2018 When the French officer Alfred Dreyfus was accused of treason in 1894, public opinion was sundered in half. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Is Kanye West “the Ezra Pound of Rap”?," 30 Apr. 2018 And Melanie Field movingly reveals the conflict her character, Laura, experiences in falling in love with a man who is unbelievably great yet who can’t help sundering her from her gay significant other. Charles Mcnulty,, "Say 'I do' to 'Significant Other,' the rare romantic comedy with depth to match the laughs," 13 Apr. 2018 Hundreds of students languish at home, still out of school weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in coastal Texas, sundering even sturdy school buildings. Moriah Balingit, Washington Post, "Students in towns hardest hit by Harvey are still in the eye of the storm," 18 Sep. 2017 Any move to sunder diplomatic relations again would recreate a long-standing irritant for the region. The Economist, "BelloDeciphering Donald Trump’s thinking on Latin America," 5 Oct. 2017

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for sunder

Middle English, from Old English gesundrian, syndrian; akin to Old High German suntarōn to sunder, Old English sundor apart, Latin sine without, Sanskrit sanutar away

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sunder

Statistics for sunder

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sunder

The first known use of sunder was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sunder



English Language Learners Definition of sunder

: to split apart (an organization, two people, etc.) especially in a violent way

More from Merriam-Webster on sunder

See words that rhyme with sunder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sunder

Comments on sunder

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


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!