mid-13c., "part from each other," from Old French departir (10c.) "to divide, distribute; separate (oneself), depart; die," from Late Latin departire "to divide" (transitive), from de- "from" (see de-) + partire "to part, divide," from pars (genitive partis) "a part, piece, a share, a division" (from PIE root *pere- (2) "to grant, allot").
As a euphemism for "to die" (to depart this life; compare Old French departir de cest siecle) it is attested from c. 1500, as is the departed for "the dead," singly or collectively. Transitive lingers in some English usages; the wedding service was till death us depart until 1662. Related: Departed; departing.
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