Etymology
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separate (v.)

early 15c., separaten, transitive, "remove, detach completely; divide (something), sever the connection or association of," from Latin separatus, past participle of separare "to pull apart," from se- "apart" (see secret (n.)) + parare "make ready, prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure"). Sever (q.v.) is a doublet, via French. Intransitive sense of "to part, be or become disunited or disconnected" is by 1630s of things, 1680s of persons. Related: Separated; separating.

separate (adj.)

"detached, kept apart, divided from the rest," c. 1600, from separate (v.) or from Latin separatus. Separate also was used as a past-participle adjective in Middle English, "cut off from the main body," also, of a spouse, "estranged." The meaning "individual, particular" is from 1670s, on the notion of "withdrawn or divided from something else," hence "peculiar to one but not others."

Separate but equal in reference to U.S. segregation policies on railroads, etc. is attested by 1890 (Henry W. Grady); it was used in 1870s of medical courses for women at universities. Separate development, official name of apartheid in South Africa, is from 1955. Related: Separately (1550s); separateness.

Frequently the colored coach is little better than a cattle car. Generally one half the smoking car is reserved for the colored car. Often only a cloth curtain or partition run half way up separates this so-called colored car from the smoke, obscene language, and foul air of the smokers' half of the car. All classes and conditions of colored humanity, from the most cultured and refined to the most degraded and filthy, without regard to sex, good breeding or ability to pay for better accommodation, are crowded into this separate, but equal (?) half car. [Rev. Norman B. Wood, "The White Side of a Black Subject," 1897]

updated on May 09, 2022

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Definitions of separate from WordNet
1
separate (v.)
act as a barrier between; stand between;
Synonyms: divide
separate (v.)
force, take, or pull apart;
He separated the fighting children
Synonyms: disunite / divide / part
separate (v.)
mark as different;
Synonyms: distinguish / differentiate / secern / secernate / severalize / severalise / tell / tell apart
separate (v.)
separate into parts or portions;
Synonyms: divide / split / split up / dissever / carve up
separate (v.)
divide into components or constituents;
separate (v.)
arrange or order by classes or categories;
Synonyms: classify / class / sort / assort / sort out
separate (v.)
make a division or separation;
Synonyms: divide
separate (v.)
discontinue an association or relation; go different ways;
The couple separated after 25 years of marriage
Synonyms: part / split up / split / break / break up
separate (v.)
go one's own way; move apart;
The friends separated after the party
Synonyms: part / split
separate (v.)
become separated into pieces or fragments;
Synonyms: break / split up / fall apart / come apart
separate (v.)
treat differently on the basis of sex or race;
Synonyms: discriminate / single out
separate (v.)
come apart;
The two pieces that we had glued separated
Synonyms: divide / part
separate (v.)
divide into two or more branches so as to form a fork;
Synonyms: branch / ramify / fork / furcate
2
separate (adj.)
standing apart; not attached to or supported by anything;
a house with a separate garage
Synonyms: freestanding
separate (adj.)
independent; not united or joint;
a problem consisting of two separate issues
formed a separate church
they went their separate ways
separate (adj.)
separated according to race, sex, class, or religion;
girls and boys in separate classes
separate but equal
separate (adj.)
have the connection undone; having become separate;
Synonyms: disjoined
3
separate (n.)
a separately printed article that originally appeared in a larger publication;
Synonyms: offprint / reprint
separate (n.)
a garment that can be purchased separately and worn in combinations with other garments;
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.