Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

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Main Entry: 1sep·a·rate
Pronunciation: 'se-p(&-)"rAt
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -rat·ed; -rat·ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin separatus, past participle of separare, from se- apart + parare to prepare, procure -- more at SECEDE, PARE
Date: 15th century
transitive verb
1 a : to set or keep apart : DISCONNECT, SEVER b : to make a distinction between : DISCRIMINATE, DISTINGUISH <separate religion from magic> c : SORT <separate mail> d : to disperse in space or time : SCATTER <widely separated homesteads>
2 archaic : to set aside for a special purpose : CHOOSE, DEDICATE
3 : to part by a legal separation : a : to sever conjugal ties with b : to sever contractual relations with : DISCHARGE <was separated from the army>
4 : to block off : SEGREGATE
5 a : to isolate from a mixture : EXTRACT <separate cream from milk> b : to divide into constituent parts
6 : to dislocate (as a shoulder) especially in sports
intransitive verb
1 : to become divided or detached
2 a : to sever an association : WITHDRAW b : to cease to live together as a married couple
3 : to go in different directions
4 : to become isolated from a mixture <the crystals separated out>
synonyms 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>.