1 : to fix or define the limits of : delimit
2 : to set apart : distinguish
A crumbling stone wall demarcated the property.
"The war on terrorism has made it hard to demarcate the proper lines between military action and law enforcement, simply because it doesn't resemble traditional wars between national armies." - From an article in the Chicago Tribune, January 3, 2012
Did You Know?
"Demarcate" is set apart by its unique history. Scholars think it may have descended from the Italian verb "marcare" ("to mark"), which is itself of Germanic origin (the Old High German word for boundary, "marha," is a relative). "Marcare" is the probable source of the Spanish "marcar" (also "to mark"), from which comes the Spanish "demarcar" ("to fix the boundary of"). In 1493, a Spanish noun, "demarcación," was used to name the new meridian dividing the New World territory between Spain and Portugal. Later (about 1730), English speakers began calling this boundary the "line of demarcation," and eventually we began applying that phrase to other dividing lines as well. "Demarcation" in turn gave rise to "demarcate" in the early 19th century.
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Word Family Quiz
What relative of "demarcate" is used as a direction in music, with the meaning "with strong accentuation"? The answer is ...