divorce

1 of 3

noun (1)

di·​vorce də-ˈvȯrs How to pronounce divorce (audio)
 also  dī-
1
law : the action or an instance of legally dissolving (see dissolve entry 1 sense 1d) a marriage
2
: separation, severance
divorce of the secular and the spiritual

divorce

2 of 3

verb

divorced; divorcing

transitive verb

1
law
a
: 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.
b
: to dissolve the marriage contract between
They were divorced last year.
They are getting divorced.
2
: 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

divorcé

3 of 3

noun (2)

di·​vor·​cé də-ˌvȯr-ˈsā How to pronounce divorcé (audio) -ˈsē How to pronounce divorcé (audio)
-ˈvȯr-ˌsā
: 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

Word History

Etymology

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

Verb

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 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

divorce 1 of 3

noun

di·​vorce də-ˈvōrs How to pronounce divorce (audio)
-ˈvȯrs
1
: the action or an instance of legally ending a marriage
2
: complete separation

divorce

2 of 3

verb

divorced; divorcing
1
a
: to end marriage with one's spouse by divorce
b
: to cancel the marriage contract between two spouses
2
: to make or keep separate : separate, disunite
divorcement noun

divorcé

3 of 3

noun

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

Legal Definition

divorce 1 of 2

noun

di·​vorce
: 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

divorce

2 of 2

verb

divorced; divorcing

transitive verb

1
: to dissolve the marriage of (a spouse) by judgment or decree of divorce
2
: to sever the marital relationship with (a spouse) by means of a judgment or decree of divorce

intransitive verb

: to obtain a divorce

History and Etymology for divorce

Noun

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

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