1540s, "separate (someone or something) from a generally body or class of things," from Latin segregatus, past participle of segregare "set apart, lay aside; isolate; divide," literally "separate from the flock," from *se gregare, from se "apart from" (see se-) + grege, ablative of grex "herd, flock" (from PIE root *ger- "to gather").
Originally often with reference to the religious notion of separating the flock of the godly from the sinners, later scientifically in reference to classifications. In modern social context, "to force or enforce racial separation and exclusion," by 1898. Intransitive sense of "separate, go apart" is by 1863. Related: Segregated; segregating.
updated on April 24, 2022