1 of 3

noun (1)

di·​vorce də-ˈvȯrs How to pronounce divorce (audio)
 also  dī-
law : the action or an instance of legally dissolving (see dissolve entry 1 sense 1d) a marriage
: separation, severance
divorce of the secular and the spiritual


2 of 3


divorced; divorcing

transitive verb

: to legally dissolve one's marriage with : to end marriage with (one's spouse) by divorce (see divorce entry 1 sense 1)
She divorced her husband.
: to dissolve the marriage contract between
They were divorced last year.
They are getting divorced.
: to make or keep separate : separate
divorce church from state
media narratives divorced from reality

intransitive verb

law : to obtain a divorce
They divorced two years later.
divorcement noun


3 of 3

noun (2)

di·​vor·​cé də-ˌvȯr-ˈsā How to pronounce divorcé (audio) -ˈsē How to pronounce divorcé (audio)
: a divorced man
Choose the Right Synonym for divorce

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

Noun (1) Since getting a divorce, she has been raising her children alone. They went through a lengthy divorce. Their marriage ended in divorce. Financial problems are a leading cause of divorce. Verb After years of unhappiness, she decided to divorce him. They both agreed it was best to divorce. Their constitution divorces church and state. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Gisele Bündchen appears on the cover of Vanity Fair’s April issue, which features a candid interview with the Brazilian supermodel, who speaks out for the first time since her October divorce from Tom Brady. Brittany Bowker, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Mar. 2023 Bündchen was first seen with the jiu-jitsu pro in November of last year, when the pair visited Provincia de Puntarenas (a province located on Costa Rica's coast), two weeks after her divorce from NFL star Tom Brady was finalized. Tracey Harrington Mccoy, Peoplemag, 22 Mar. 2023 Valente accompanied Bündchen on two other trips to Costa Rica since her divorce from Brady was announced. Carrie Wittmer, Glamour, 22 Mar. 2023 Charles Vallow's fears Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow Kay Woodcock Charles Vallow filed for a divorce from Lori. Kat Teurfs, Chelsea Narvaez, CBS News, 22 Mar. 2023 Even before the order was issued, Hartsfield had filed for divorce from her fourth husband, according to the records. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, 22 Mar. 2023 So why address all this musically now, over three years after Hemsworth filed for divorce in August 2019? Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 15 Mar. 2023 The lyric is layered as flowers are mentioned, like her No. 1 hit single that is allegedly about bouncing back from her divorce with Liam Hemsworth. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 10 Mar. 2023 But after seven months, the pair filed for divorce. Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2023
Their latest reconciliation comes more than a year after Ray J filed in October 2021 to divorce the 38-year-old Prella Cosmetics founder, citing irreconcilable differences. Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 2 Mar. 2023 Spielberg’s mother and his father Arnold would eventually divorce; Leah married that family friend, Bernie Adler, in 1967. Time, 16 Nov. 2022 Anna became a household name when Vito tried to divorce her in the ’50s, infuriating the Cosa Nostra by revealing her soon-to-be ex’s many shady business dealings. Hayley Maitland, Vogue, 12 Nov. 2021 The couple later would divorce amicably after Quinn came out as gay. The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Apr. 2021 The couple separated in 1992, but didn't divorce officially until four years later, in 1996. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, 24 Oct. 2020 Only a despised, dynamic American economy allows millions to divorce from it for a summer of protest. Victor Davis Hanson Tribune News Service (tns), Star Tribune, 27 Aug. 2020 The couple originally dated in the early 2000s, getting engaged before going their separate ways; each going on to marry and subsequently divorce different partners. C Mandler, CBS News, 15 Feb. 2023 But there’s something delicately stirring in what feels like a real-life role-playing between Simmons and Brooks (who would divorce eight years later in 1977) in a comparable cathartic roleplay to Mendes/Winslet in Revolutionary Road. Nicholas Bell, SPIN, 14 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'divorce.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Noun (1) and Verb

Middle English divorse, from Anglo-French, from Latin divortium, from divertere, divortere to divert, to leave one's husband

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of divorce was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near divorce

Cite this Entry

“Divorce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divorce. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 noun
di·​vorce də-ˈvōrs How to pronounce divorce (audio)
: the action or an instance of legally ending a marriage
: complete separation


2 of 3 verb
divorced; divorcing
: to end marriage with one's spouse by divorce
: to cancel the marriage contract between two spouses
: to make or keep separate : separate, disunite
divorcement noun


3 of 3 noun
di·​vor·​cé də-ˌvōr-ˈsā How to pronounce divorcé (audio) -ˌvȯr- How to pronounce divorcé (audio)
: a divorced man

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
: the dissolution of a valid marriage granted especially on specified statutory grounds (as adultery) arising after the marriage compare annulment

Note: The most common grounds for divorce are absence from the marital home, drug or alcohol addiction, adultery, cruelty, conviction of a crime, desertion, insanity, and nonsupport.

absolute divorce
: a divorce that completely and permanently dissolves the marital relationship and terminates marital rights (as property rights) and obligations (as fidelity)
divorce a mensa et thoro \ -​ˌā-​ˈmen-​sə-​ˌet-​ˈthȯr-​ō, -​ˌä-​ˈmen-​sä-​ˌet-​ˈthō-​rō \
: a separation governed by a court order : legal separation
divorce a vinculo matrimonii \ -​ˌā-​ˈviŋ-​kyu̇-​ˌlō-​ˌma-​trə-​ˈmō-​nē-​ˌī, -​ˌä-​ˈviŋ-​kü-​ˌlō-​ˌmä-​trē-​ˈmō-​nē-​ˌē \
: absolute divorce in this entry
limited divorce
: an intentional cessation of cohabitation between spouses : separation
no-fault divorce
: an absolute divorce that is not based on either spouse's fault and that is granted usually on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown or when the spouses have lived apart for a statutorily specified period of time


2 of 2 verb
divorced; divorcing

transitive verb

: to dissolve the marriage of (a spouse) by judgment or decree of divorce
: to sever the marital relationship with (a spouse) by means of a judgment or decree of divorce

intransitive verb

: to obtain a divorce


Middle French, from Latin divortium, from divortere, divertere to leave one's marriage partner, from di- away, apart + vertere to turn

More from Merriam-Webster on divorce

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