Definition of separate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsep(ə)rət/
1Forming or viewed as a unit apart or by itself: this raises two separate issues he regards the study of literature as quite separate from life
More example sentences
  • But these qualms are separate from another issue: the value of legal immigration to our nation.
  • The program made me realize that no one social-justice issue is separate from the rest.
  • Ministers have made it clear that such issues are separate from the seabed and foreshore legislation.
unconnected, unrelated, different, distinct, discrete;
detached, divorced, disconnected, independent, autonomous
1.1Not joined or touching physically: hostels with separate quarters for men and women
More example sentences
  • The bathroom is fit for a king and queen, with his and hers basins, large mirrors framed by driftwood, a separate shower room and toilet and a huge tub also encased in wood.
  • Now, as you can see, this is a self-contained room, it's separate from all the others and it's got an air-lock here.
  • Downstairs there are two further large bedrooms plus a very large shower room, a separate guest toilet, boiler house and a bespoke wine cellar.
set apart, detached, fenced off, cut off, segregated, isolated;
free-standing, self-contained
1.2Different; distinct: melt the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls
More example sentences
  • The Buddha taught three different approaches on three separate occasions.
  • They would share the same DNA, but in every other respect, like identical twins, they would be separate and distinct individuals.
  • There are two separate and distinct conditions for the exercise of the discretion created by that provision.


Pronunciation: /ˈsepəˌrāt/
1 [with object] Cause to move or be apart: police were trying to separate two rioting mobs they were separated by the war
More example sentences
  • It is about two best friends who are separated when one moves away.
  • My fingers slipped through his as though they'd never been separated, cruelly ripped apart by decency and weakness.
  • They will be separated from other prisoners and some of the more venerable prisoners who have medical problems will be moved to other facilities, he said…
split (up), break up, part, pull apart, divide
literary sunder
1.1Form a distinction or boundary between (people, places, or things): only a footpath separated their garden from the shore six years separated the two brothers
More example sentences
  • Sectors are generally not separated by clear boundaries like those between levels of analysis.
  • One of the main disorders occurs when walls separating the heart's four chambers do not form properly.
  • But it was an extremely close contest with just six points separating the top five places.
partition, divide, come between, keep apart;
bisect, intersect
1.2 [no object] Become detached or disconnected: the second stage of the rocket failed to separate
More example sentences
  • These ligaments can be sprained, disrupted, detached, or separated, depending on the severity of the injury.
  • As you pull the lithosphere apart, as it separates, decompression occurs in the earth's mantle underneath the spreading centre.
  • Again to surprise them the rectangle flowed apart, separating into strands and being drawn in upwards one after another, perfectly synchronized.
disconnect, detach, disengage, uncouple, unyoke, disunite, disjoin;
split, divide, sever;
part (company), go their separate ways, split up;
say goodbye;
disperse, disband, scatter
1.3 [no object] Leave another person’s company: they separated at the corner, agreeing to meet within two hours
1.4 [no object] Stop living together as a couple: after her parents separated, she was brought up by her mother (as adjective separated) her parents are separated
More example sentences
  • For one thing Erica knew his parents were always separating or getting back together.
  • After some time together, she separated from her husband with the intention of divorcing him, and moved into separate accommodation.
  • She was living in public housing, separated from her husband and living on a lone parent allowance.
split up, break up, part, be estranged, divorce
1.5US Discharge or dismiss (someone) from service or employment: this year one million veterans will be separated from the service
More example sentences
  • The disease she was suffering from in Jewish society and under Mosaic law rendered her unclean, and she was separated from the services of the temple.
2Divide or cause to divide into constituent or distinct elements: [no object]: the milk had separated into curds and whey [with object]: separate the eggs and beat the yolks
2.1 [with object] Extract or remove for use or rejection: the skins are separated from the juice before fermentation figurative we need to separate fact from speculation
More example sentences
  • The facts should be carefully separated from opinion and used in a language those people can emotionally relate to.
  • The greenhouse gas had been separated from extracted natural gas and would normally have been released into the atmosphere…
  • One of the most obvious is the stage at which the juice is separated from the skins by pressing (before fermentation for white wines, after fermentation for red wines).
2.2 [with object] Distinguish between; consider individually: we cannot separate his thinking from his activity
More example sentences
  • With experience, you are genuinely able to separate yourself from the writer and your current function as a director.
  • What both types have in common is an ability to totally separate emotion and sex.
  • What qualities separate a top-flight guide writer from one who's merely average?
2.3(Of a factor or quality) distinguish (someone or something) from others: his position separates him from those who might share his interests
2.4 [with object] (separate something off) Make something form, or view something as, a unit apart or by itself: the organ loft separating off the choir


Pronunciation: /ˈsep(ə)rət/
1Things forming units by themselves, in particular.
1.1Individual items of clothing, such as skirts, jackets, or pants, suitable for wearing in different combinations.
Example sentences
  • Day wear consists of angular shaped separates that include wide-neck jumpers and half-mast trousers.
  • We stock mainly separates, skirts and matching jackets, blouses, shirts and sweaters.
  • Buy your suiting as separates, the suits sold as sets don't seem to generally be of the same quality.
1.2The self-contained, freestanding components of a sound-reproduction system.
Example sentences
  • The difference is much like the difference between buying an integrated HiFi and separates - the former is the easy option but the latter almost always performs better.
1.3Portions into which a soil, sediment, etc., can be sorted according to particle size, mineral composition, or other criteria.
Example sentences
  • Sm-Nd analytical data for two mafic granulite, three sapphirine granulite samples and mineral separates from one sapphirine granulite sample are given in Table 2.
  • Mineral and groundmass separates were loaded in 99.99% copper foil packets.
  • Mineral separates were prepared from 4-6 kg rock samples.



go one's separate ways

Leave in a different direction from someone with whom one has just traveled or spent time.
Example sentences
  • Once they were inside, they planned to be back in the entrance at 11:45 pm before they went their separate ways and rode different rides.
  • They then go their separate ways, Jake travelling alone to San Sebastian, where he swims, reads, and relaxes after the stressful time in Pamplona.
  • When the coffee was done we split up and went our separate ways, Graham to the bookshop for a good browse and me off to the big photographic store at the other end of town.
1.1End a romantic, professional, or other relationship.
Example sentences
  • They broke up about two weeks later over differences they couldn't get around, and they both went their separate ways to different people.
  • When you are told by people who are your brothers and sisters in Christ that they've lost all trust and respect for you I think there's no alternative but to see there's a great difference and go your separate ways.
  • We were good friends and didn't want to fall out, so we split the business and went our separate ways.

separate but equal

US historical Racially segregated but ostensibly ensuring equal opportunities to all races.
Example sentences
  • But the proponents of separate but equal may also have been well-intentioned.
  • By 1945, even as the Urban League and the NAACP were arguing in the circuit court that the city had an obligation to open another segregated school, the separate but equal strategy had worn thin.
  • One of the most active courts in history, the Warren court overturned the notion of separate but equal public education and ordered school desegregation.

separate the men from the boys

see man.

separate the sheep from the goats

Divide people or things into superior and inferior groups.
With biblical allusion to Matt. 25:33
Example sentences
  • British manners and social codes, as many a bemused American expatriate has discovered, are almost impenetrably arcane, their subtlety and complexity aimed precisely at separating the sheep from the goats in class terms.
  • Sarah has obviously discovered success is a very good way of separating the sheep from the goats.
  • After more than two decades of judging I have found no way to separate the sheep from the goats, except by taking a close look at each case.

separate the wheat from the chaff

see chaff1.



Example sentences
  • Because their patriotism was often expressed collectively, many groups remained distinct and conscious of their identity and separateness.
  • Cut off by the Delaware River on the northeast and the bay on the west, the people developed a spirit of separateness and self-conscious identity.
  • Children are left uninterrupted, undistracted, unbothered; their distinctness and separateness are respected.


Late Middle English: from Latin separat- 'disjoined, divided', from the verb separare, from se- 'apart' + parare 'prepare'.

  • apparatus from early 17th century:

    This is a Latin word, from apparare ‘make ready for’, from parare ‘make ready’. Other words going back to parare include disparate (Late Middle English), ‘prepared apart’; pare (Middle English); prepare (Late Middle English) ‘prepare in advance’; and separate (Late Middle English) from se- ‘apart’ and parare.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sep·a·rate

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