sun·​der ˈsən-dər How to pronounce sunder (audio)
sundered; sundering ˈsən-d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce sunder (audio)

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
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

Example Sentences

a family sundered by scandal during the cold war East and West Berlin were sundered by an impenetrable wall
Recent Examples on the Web But Wu worries that Beijing’s anger toward Pelosi’s visit may sunder the delicate connections between Taiwan’s business and political elite and mainland leaders. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, 2 Aug. 2022 According to the WeChat users group, Trump’s Aug. 6 order would sunder the primary and often exclusive channel many U.S. residents use to communicate with family and friends in both China and the U.S. Edvard Pettersson,, 16 Sep. 2020 Cherry told other stories from that time: affairs, gruesome deaths, hearts sundered by grief. D. T. Max, The New Yorker, 10 Sep. 2019 During that time friendships have been sundered, garments rended, pearls clutched and block buttons exhausted. Eamon Lynch, Golfweek, 4 Feb. 2020 The glow faded when the Iraq war sundered Mr Blair from the French and the Germans. The Economist, 15 Aug. 2019 The unprotected noticed, and began to sunder their relationship with establishments and elites. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, 14 Feb. 2019 These practices were sundered with the ascension of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. New York Times, 3 July 2018 Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham are working on an alternative that would send a message to the Saudis without sundering the relationship. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 3 Dec. 2018 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near sunder

Cite this Entry

“Sunder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


sun·​der ˈsən-dər How to pronounce sunder (audio)
sundered; sundering -d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce sunder (audio)
: to break or force apart or in two
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