late 14c., "legal dissolution of the bond of marriage," from Old French divorce (14c.), from Latin divortium "separation, dissolution of marriage," from divertere "to separate, leave one's husband, turn aside" (see divert). Not distinguished in English from legal separation until mid-19c. Extended sense of "complete separation, absolute disjunction" is from early 15c.
c. 1400, divorcen, "to put away or abandon (a spouse); to dissolve the marriage contract between by process of law," from Old French divorcer, from divorce (see divorce (n.)). Extended sense of "release or sever from any close connection" is from early 15c. Related: Divorced; divorcing.