Definition of separate in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘But these qualms are separate from another issue: the value of legal immigration to our nation.’
    • ‘Ministers have made it clear that such issues are separate from the seabed and foreshore legislation.’
    • ‘But in the end, he didn't oppose the launch, so I think that's a separate issue.’
    • ‘I don't see the two - tampering and theft - as separate issues.’
    • ‘The design and scale of the proposed development is a separate issue.’
    • ‘Now consultations are taking place with sports clubs in the town before the matter goes to wider public consultation, either as part of the local plan or as a separate issue.’
    • ‘However Boyle doesn't accept that the two need be separate.’
    • ‘The two issues must be kept separate during the council's leisure review.’
    • ‘Nationbuilding is seen as a separate, distinct diplomatic enterprise.’
    • ‘We believe in the puppet as a completely separate entity from the puppeteer.’
    • ‘The point is that there are two separate issues here.’
    • ‘Note that game points are entirely separate from card points.’
    • ‘Australia's humanitarian responsibility to asylum seekers is a separate issue from the ethics of the people-smugglers.’
    • ‘The program made me realize that no one social-justice issue is separate from the rest.’
    • ‘The treatment of illegal entrants once in Australia is a quite separate issue.’
    • ‘The proxy ballot card was designed to address these questions as separate voting issues.’
    • ‘More often than not, these are regarded as separate spheres of endeavor.’
    • ‘Criticism of one can and should be kept entirely separate from the other.’
    • ‘Thus the trade, though lucrative, was quite separate from the rest of his thinking.’
    • ‘Several students at the meeting felt that the auditor selection process should be a separate issue from the approval of financial statements.’
    unconnected, unrelated, different, discrete, distinct, disparate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Not joined or touching physically.
      ‘hostels with separate quarters for men and women’
      • ‘The first floor comprises the main living and dining area and has a sitting room, separate TV room, kitchen and toilet.’
      • ‘There is a separate pool and games room for children.’
      • ‘Downstairs there is a conservatory with bay window overlooking the rear and a separate toilet and shower room.’
      • ‘The air-conditioned vessel will have a cabin and accommodation room, besides a separate room for holding parties.’
      • ‘Downstairs there are two further large bedrooms plus a very large shower room, a separate guest toilet, boiler house and a bespoke wine cellar.’
      • ‘The money will go towards a new food technology room with separate bays with stainless steel sinks, cookers, fridges and microwaves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Don't have that room be separate from the rest of your spa.’
      • ‘Before reaching the kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, the hallway leads to a utility room and separate shower and toilet.’
      • ‘Other features will include a library with a bay window, a large designer kitchen with a fully fitted walk-in larder and a separate utility room.’
      • ‘The family rooms have a separate children's sleeping area, with TVs at the end of both beds - thus avoiding arguments over what to watch.’
      • ‘A new toy was placed among seven familiar toys, and in a separate room the owner asked Rico to fetch it using a name the dog had never heard before.’
      • ‘Where different communities in the past shared the same neighbourhood they have now been driven into separate quarters.’
      • ‘All patients are located in separate rooms to prevent infection.’
      • ‘Further north, there are traces of four more buildings, one quite separate from the rest.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The voluntary first aid service has taken delivery of a state-of-the-art first aid caravan with its own separate crew quarters and treatment centre.’
      • ‘The hotel set in a sprawling bungalow had a main building with rooms, a separate dining hall, billiard tables, livery and stables.’
      • ‘An Auckland medical laboratory has offered a separate lunch room for staff to speak a language other than English during their breaks.’
      • ‘Both games are here to stay and apart from the problem of separate dressing room areas all other problems are surmountable.’
    2. 1.2Different; distinct.
      ‘melt the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls’
      • ‘Each bar shows the mean of 50 separate runs on different simulated data sets.’
      • ‘It is strongly suspected that these three morphologically separate forms are different species.’
      • ‘The two are separate and distinct schools of thought.’
      • ‘He survived when the ships he served on were torpedoed on three separate occasions.’
      • ‘The group were formerly close-knit but are now a bunch of individuals moving in separate directions and facing different problems.’
      • ‘I've tried on three very separate occasions between January and now and all I get is errors.’
      • ‘There are two separate and distinct conditions for the exercise of the discretion created by that provision.’
      • ‘The problem is that it assumes that these are two totally separate species.’
      • ‘There were fears about what might happen if both engines failed in separate incidents.’
      • ‘Previous work has shown that humans, each wearing a separate color, elicit different alarm calls.’
      • ‘The author devotes separate chapters to the different situations in which transgression from the expected norm was most likely to take place.’
      • ‘However, you get much better value for money by buying two separate polices.’
      • ‘These junctions are cunningly woven: the twin strands go separate ways along different edges, where they intertwine with new strands.’
      • ‘In a separate incident, guerrillas killed a police lieutenant in the same city.’
      • ‘All 3 of these systems reside on different database types on separate hardware platforms.’
      • ‘I am to produce a circuit black box consisting of 3 separate circuits (joined together in a box).’
      • ‘The Buddha taught three different approaches on three separate occasions.’
      • ‘I was, however, reminded of other notable films on two quite separate occasions.’
      • ‘They would share the same DNA, but in every other respect, like identical twins, they would be separate and distinct individuals.’
      • ‘You can even install a doorbell with 2 different sounds and 2 separate buttons.’


  • 1[with object] Cause to move or be apart.

    ‘police were trying to separate two rioting mobs’
    ‘they were separated by the war’
    • ‘The other day Ruth was telling me about studies of twins separated at birth.’
    • ‘She would rather die than be separated from her lover.’
    • ‘I've railed against the Family Court system that allows fathers like me to be separated from their children.’
    • ‘It will be unsettling to your pet to be separated from you; make sure that their temporary home is as loving and comfortable as possible.’
    • ‘My fingers slipped through his as though they'd never been separated, cruelly ripped apart by decency and weakness.’
    • ‘‘They do not want to be separated from their phones,’ McCabe said.’
    • ‘They are worried that it might not be the same, that they might have to travel to another part of the city or switch to another school, that they'll be separated from their friends.’
    • ‘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…’
    • ‘Screeners will be separated from passengers and will see only the machine image and screeners may only be allowed to scan passengers of the same sex.’
    • ‘The barracks allowed us to be separated from those with genuine seniority and rank and provided us a space to turn on each other.’
    • ‘Perhaps it's like when twins are separated at birth but end up at similar positions in adulthood.’
    • ‘Next month more than 120,000 Jerusalemites will be separated from both Jerusalem and compatriots in the West Bank.’
    • ‘It takes a longer time to expose the uterus since the rectus muscle has to be separated from its sheath both above and below, for better exposure and space.’
    • ‘They empathized with Lucy's attachment to her pig puppet and one little girl started bringing her favourite doll to school so she wouldn't be separated from it.’
    • ‘It is about two best friends who are separated when one moves away.’
    • ‘They said I would not be separated from my mother and father.’
    • ‘I don't want to be separated from these two chicks.’
    part, break up, move apart, divide
    View synonyms
    1. 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’
      • ‘Currently, there are 18 teams within 400 points of first, and the top 10 is separated by 203 points.’
      • ‘These studies rely on the model that the likelihood of two sequences recombining with each other depends on the average amount of space separating them.’
      • ‘One of the main disorders occurs when walls separating the heart's four chambers do not form properly.’
      • ‘With just six points separating the two drivers, competition is sure to be fierce.’
      • ‘Genetic differences between populations reflect the geographic distances separating them.’
      • ‘A minimum of 24 hours separated all drug administrations.’
      • ‘As the tension mounted during the penultimate test of the day, less than four seconds separated the top six finishers.’
      • ‘There is only four points separating the top five teams.’
      • ‘At one time the world was divided into entities that were separated by geographical boundaries, which have been significantly eroded and continue to dissolve.’
      • ‘But it was an extremely close contest with just six points separating the top five places.’
      • ‘The size of the force of gravity depends on two things, the masses of the objects and the distance separating them.’
      • ‘The distance separating each object from the others was 50 cm.’
      • ‘It was also noted that a wooden door within the close boarded fence which separates the two garden areas had been opened to provide access to and from the main garden.’
      • ‘So unskilled was Mike's parking that Mary Beth had to crawl over to the driver's seat to get out, as there was only two inches separating their car and the pick-up.’
      • ‘If form holds, the photos are recent; just a few weeks separating each attack.’
      • ‘Sectors are generally not separated by clear boundaries like those between levels of analysis.’
      • ‘By 1846, they came to an agreement over the disputed 3000 mile boundary that separated the two nations.’
      • ‘This provides a computational advantage when a large number of generations separate the samples.’
      • ‘He grinned cheekily at her, giving her yet another wink before he rolled off the bed, coming up to stand directly in front of her, not even a whole inch separating them this time.’
      • ‘They faced each other over the three yards separating them for a moment, neither giving the slightest advantage to the other.’
    2. 1.2[no object]Become detached or disconnected.
      ‘the second stage of the rocket failed to separate’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the canvas above your head is lifting and separating, uncoupling both from the windscreen and at the back in a squeeze-box motion that the designers must have had a lot of fun devising.’
      • ‘Soon the soil began to lift and after several attempts the soil separated and lifted and move to where she willed.’
      • ‘The box didn't so much open as separate, coming apart into two pieces that barely looked like they'd fit together.’
      • ‘The parachutes opened and the missile stabilized at 5000 feet, at which point the parachutes separated and the rocket was ignited.’
      • ‘When players collided, they simply separated and moved on, folding back into the turbulent maelstrom of sweat and speed.’
      • ‘They merged and separated and moved on together, two shadows gliding through the shadowy twilight.’
      • ‘The two solid rocket boosters separate from the shuttle about two minutes after launch, after which the main engines take over completely.’
      • ‘As you pull the lithosphere apart, as it separates, decompression occurs in the earth's mantle underneath the spreading centre.’
      • ‘He led them through automatic door with a logo, which spilt apart when the doors separated.’
      • ‘Again to surprise them the rectangle flowed apart, separating into strands and being drawn in upwards one after another, perfectly synchronized.’
      • ‘This craft was carried 50,000 feet by the so called white knight aircraft, before they separated, and then rocketed into the stratosphere.’
      • ‘After observing it for several more minutes we saw a small object separate and move away from the bigger object.’
      • ‘These ligaments can be sprained, disrupted, detached, or separated, depending on the severity of the injury.’
      • ‘The two separated, moving to opposite ends of the clearing.’
      • ‘They separated, moving off to work but exchanging a long glance as they parted.’
      • ‘The pairs of asylum inmates separate and move together, come towards the viewer and retire.’
      • ‘Two figures reach for each other, move as a unit, separate, and meet again.’
      • ‘The worst situation of all is if the bottom of your shoe is coming apart - if the sole is separating from the part around your foot.’
      • ‘Then the huddle broke apart and the Dwarves separated.’
    3. 1.3[no object]Leave another person's company.
      ‘they separated at the corner, agreeing to meet within two hours’
    4. 1.4[no object]Stop living together as a couple.
      ‘after her parents separated, she was brought up by her mother’
      • ‘After some time together, she separated from her husband with the intention of divorcing him, and moved into separate accommodation.’
      • ‘My parents separated when I was 5, and I grew up living with my mother and visiting my father only once or twice a year.’
      • ‘My parents separated when I was eleven and my father brought up my younger sister and me.’
      • ‘This could be due to a parent being ill, (this sometimes happens after the parent gets better), marriage problems, fighting or parents separating.’
      • ‘Dean's parents had separated, but were working on getting back together, but I guess it didn't work out.’
      • ‘The Defendant was in need of living accommodation for himself as he had recently separated from his wife and had left the matrimonial home.’
      • ‘My parents were something between: separated, or separating, sometimes living together and sometimes apart, and each of them with lovers.’
      • ‘In March, 1994, the couple separated, bringing to an end their 15-year relationship.’
      • ‘The next eight months they will stay together, separate, reunite and bring forth new life.’
      • ‘When my husband and I were separating, I helped him move into an apartment because he told me he was having some kind of crisis.’
      • ‘But the summer my mother and her husband separated, Lorne moved out and took his entire five-piece tiger-striped couch set with him.’
      • ‘She was living in public housing, separated from her husband and living on a lone parent allowance.’
      • ‘When I was in late high school my father, having recently separated from my mother, brought his new love to come live with me and my brother.’
      • ‘They separated for a couple of months and then got back together.’
      • ‘When he was four years old his parents separated, although they tried coming back together three times.’
      • ‘For one thing Erica knew his parents were always separating or getting back together.’
      • ‘Michelle and Melissa might be moving, or separating, or just cleaning house, but there is no tension evident.’
      • ‘After all, there's a good chance that you have witnessed your own parents separating.’
      • ‘Then they grew apart, separated and, eventually divorced.’
      • ‘With the need for a new housekeeper, Stevens sees an opportunity to bring Miss Kenton, now separated from her husband, back to the manor.’
    5. 1.5No longer living together as a couple.
      ‘the children of separated parents’
      ‘her mother and father are separated’
    6. 1.6US Discharge or dismiss (someone) from service or employment.
      ‘this year one million veterans will be separated from the service’
      • ‘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’
    1. 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’
      • ‘The best current methods for transplant surgery or against organ rejection cannot be separated from the research and healthcare settings that make such practices possible.’
      • ‘The new rule also excludes beef that has been mechanically separated from a carcass, because the process can extract some of the banned tissues.’
      • ‘The juice of these grapes is immediately separated from their skins so that none of the red color is given to the wine - except for rose Champagne, which is a story for another day.’
      • ‘For a quicker method, place the garlic in a paper or plastic bag and smash with a jar; the cloves are crushed and can be easily separated from the papers.’
      • ‘The greenhouse gas had been separated from extracted natural gas and would normally have been released into the atmosphere…’
      • ‘The facts should be carefully separated from opinion and used in a language those people can emotionally relate to.’
      • ‘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. 2.2[with object]Distinguish between; consider individually.
      ‘we cannot separate his thinking from his activity’
      • ‘Young people these days don't separate drugs and drink - it's just there to be had.’
      • ‘The move to establish the Pratas marine sanctuary must not be separated from the international movement to protect marine areas.’
      • ‘With experience, you are genuinely able to separate yourself from the writer and your current function as a director.’
      • ‘Freedom is a risk and cannot be separated from responsibility.’
      • ‘What qualities separate them from others to put them in this category?’
      • ‘War cannot be separated from the economic and social system that gives rise to it.’
      • ‘In opposing the eruption of US imperialism, Beams emphasised that war could not be separated from the social and economic system that gave rise to it.’
      • ‘We would also suggest at the outset that the conduct and expression of these language wars cannot be separated from their mass mediation.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘No difference truly separates science and art in this crucial respect.’
      • ‘Nelson Mandela demonstrated to the world that the ideas of peace could not be separated from reconciliation and forgiveness.’
      • ‘In today's world of media blitzkrieg and instant entertainment, one quality separates the winners from the losers.’
      • ‘Changes in the family cannot be separated from changes in the structure of the economy, the expansion of the idea of rights, and increasing affluence.’
    3. 2.3(of a factor or quality) distinguish (someone or something) from others.
      ‘his position separates him from those who might share his interests’
    4. 2.4[with object]Make something form, or view something as, a unit apart or by itself.
      ‘the organ loft separating off the choir’


  • 1Things forming units by themselves, in particular.

    1. 1.1Individual items of clothing, such as skirts, jackets, or pants, suitable for wearing in different combinations.
      • ‘It's traditional to choose a one-piece dress or gown, but separates are definitely an option.’
      • ‘Marc took what looked like vintage World War II jackets and shirts and fastened them with multi-coloured elastic belts and floaty summer separates.’
      • ‘Find a skirt, pants, and shirt in the right style that acts as both your rainy day outfit when you have no time to get creative and as the glue to make all your other separates work together.’
      • ‘We stock mainly separates, skirts and matching jackets, blouses, shirts and sweaters.’
      • ‘They can be worn as separates (but never with jeans), or as suits.’
      • ‘The two pieces, fleece and shell jacket, work well in combination with each other and are just as functional when worn as separates.’
      • ‘Choose neutral colored separates in the silhouette of the moment and jazz up with to-die-for accessories and shoes.’
      • ‘Her boxy suits have given way to fashionable separates.’
      • ‘My closet is full of separates, but few work together.’
      • ‘It is a very wearable collection and can be worn either as separates or the entire outfit.’
      • ‘For the best results, choose simple, body-skimming dresses and separates, rather than more fitted and detailed styles.’
      • ‘Featuring separates for spring and fall, here are two tops that make a Florida statement.’
      • ‘Buy your suiting as separates, the suits sold as sets don't seem to generally be of the same quality.’
      • ‘But it is not only winning on the casual front: its range of stylish separates and dresses for the festive season are chic at half the price.’
      • ‘Personally, I don't wear separates, but one can wear them occasionally to freshen their style and wardrobe, with a whole new casual yet elegant look.’
      • ‘Many stores now sell bikinis as separates, so you can buy the pants and bra in different sizes to ensure a perfect fit.’
      • ‘Day wear consists of angular shaped separates that include wide-neck jumpers and half-mast trousers.’
      • ‘To transform my choices for a dressier version, I'll select nice separates or a well-cut pants suit with more dramatic accessories and great shoes.’
      • ‘Unless you are going for a job in advertising, or in an accounts department that likes to think of itself as wacky, neutral suits or separates are probably the best option.’
      • ‘If you prefer separates to a dress, a safe bet is to buy a beaded or sequinned cardigan, widely available on the High Street.’
    2. 1.2The self-contained, freestanding components of a sound-reproduction system.
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3Portions into which a soil, sediment, etc., can be sorted according to particle size, mineral composition, or other criteria.
      • ‘Mineral separates were prepared from 4-6 kg rock samples.’
      • ‘There is a clear correlation between sieve fraction (as a proxy for grain size) and apparent age for white mica separates.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hand picking ensured that mineral separates were at least 99% pure.’


  • go one's separate ways

    • 1Leave in a different direction from someone with whom one has just traveled or spent time.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My legs still were shaking as we got out of the plane, split up, and went our separate ways for the weekend.’
      • ‘Jess and I gathered our books and split up to go our separate ways.’
      • ‘They split into groups of 7 and went their separate ways.’
      • ‘As the school came into view, they split and went their separate ways.’
      • ‘It was quite late when the group broke up and went their separate ways to bed.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the remaining guards had split up and gone their separate ways, probably to search for the hostage, leaving Alexis and the only guard left.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The other two nodded and they split up, going their separate ways.’
      • ‘They then go their separate ways, Jake travelling alone to San Sebastian, where he swims, reads, and relaxes after the stressful time in Pamplona.’
      1. 1.1End a romantic, professional, or other relationship.
        • ‘In the end, she finally broke it off, we went our separate ways and we both are much happier now.’
        • ‘I also knew that the five of us had different dreams for our lives, and we would go our separate ways, but why now?’
        • ‘The two had dated through high school, then broken up and went their separate ways after graduation.’
        • ‘They broke up about two weeks later over differences they couldn't get around, and they both went their separate ways to different people.’
        • ‘We were good friends and didn't want to fall out, so we split the business and went our separate ways.’
        • ‘Though we had split up and gone our separate ways, we had remained the closest of friends, the sort who phone each other in emergencies.’
        • ‘Unfortunately, the partnership suffered from differing views on editorial matters, and the two went their separate ways after only two issues.’
        • ‘But soon after, the trainer and jockey went their separate ways in a split which captured the headlines.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The Beatles split at the end of 1970, with the foursome going their separate ways with mixed, even indifferent, results.’
  • separate but equal

    • historical Racially segregated but ostensibly ensuring equal opportunities to all races.

      • ‘One of the most active courts in history, the Warren court overturned the notion of separate but equal public education and ordered school desegregation.’
      • ‘In the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place.’
      • ‘But the proponents of separate but equal may also have been well-intentioned.’
      • ‘Will African-Americans have separate but equal facilities?’
      • ‘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.’
  • separate the men from the boys

  • separate the sheep from the goats

    • Divide people or things into superior and inferior groups.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This stage can really separate the sheep from the goats.’
      • ‘Doing this at global scale alongside a continuing competence in performance management is a real challenge and one that will really separate the sheep from the goats.’
  • separate the wheat from the chaff

    • Distinguish valuable people or things from worthless ones.

      • ‘I sat down one no-doubt-procrastinatory afternoon and sorted the wheat from the chaff.’
      • ‘Perhaps that might help to sort the wheat from the chaff.’
      • ‘There's more of everything, a plethora of competing versions vying for the user's attention and, to cap it all, the web is so jam-packed with information that it's getting harder by the day to sort the wheat from the chaff.’
      • ‘Doing this will sort the wheat from the chaff and will save time, effort and tears.’
      • ‘There are lots of tributes out there and the crowds soon learn to sort the wheat from the chaff.’
      • ‘It took over an hour to sort the wheat from the chaff - and that was just going through the subject lines to pick out the usual suspects.’
      • ‘The betting market promises to be the best guide to sorting the wheat from the chaff in the first two-year-old race of the season, the Ballyhane Stud Brocklesby Stakes.’
      • ‘Certainly a ringtone reduces pop songs down to their barest essentials and in doing so sorts the wheat from the chaff.’
      • ‘The market will have to sort the wheat from the chaff.’
      • ‘The problem comes in sorting the wheat from the chaff, and you or I can only try to assess the performance of our local authority planning department.’


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