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See also: Separation and séparation


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Attested in the 15th Century CE; borrowed from Old French separacion, from Latin separatio, separationem.


  • IPA(key): /sɛpəˈɹeɪʃən/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃən


separation (countable and uncountable, plural separations)

  1. The act of disuniting two or more things, or the condition of being separated.
    Synonyms: detachment, disconnection, disjunction, dissociation, disunion, division, rupture, severance
    Antonyms: annexation, combination, unification
  2. The act or condition of two or more people being separated from one another.
    • 1855, Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, Chapter 19,[1]
      We were a band of brothers, and never dearer to each other than now. The thought which gave us the most pain, was the probable separation which would now take place, in case we were sold off to the far south, as we were likely to be.
    • 2007, Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Orlando: Harcourt, Chapter 10, p. 141,[2]
      [] my longing for her was undiminished despite our months of near-complete separation.
  3. The act or condition of a married couple living in separate homes while remaining legally married.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, Chapter 44,[3]
      ‘If he dares to refuse me a separation, I’ll have one in law—I can—and I hope this will be a warning to all girls who have seen this disgraceful exhibition.’
    • 1993, Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries, Toronto: Vintage, 1994, Chapter 8, p. 302,[4]
      [] she [knows] her great-aunt’s concern over her son Warren, his two divorces, and now Alice’s bitter separation from her husband, Ben.
    1. (law) An agreement legalizing such an arrangement.
      Synonym: divorce from bed and board
      • 1874, Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, Chapter 52, section 7,[5]
        I should have gone back to her the day after the fair, if it hadn't been for you talking about the law, and rubbish about getting a separation;
      • 1936, Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, New York: Macmillan, 1964, Part 5, Chapter 63,[6]
        “You are deserting me?”
        “Don’t be the neglected, dramatic wife, Scarlett. The rôle isn’t becoming. I take it, then, you do not want a divorce or even a separation? Well, then, I’ll come back often enough to keep gossip down.”
  4. The place at which a division occurs.
  5. An interval, gap or space that separates things or people.
  6. An object that separates two spaces.
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Chapter 23,[9]
      [The orchard] was full of trees, it bloomed with flowers: a very high wall shut it out from the court, on one side; on the other, a beech avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom was a sunk fence; its sole separation from lonely fields:
  7. (military) Departure from active duty, while not necessarily leaving the service entirely.

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]



  • separation” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.