v. di·vid·ed, di·vid·ing, di·vides
a. To separate into parts, sections, groups, or branches: divided the students into four groups. See Synonyms at separate.
b. To form a border or barrier between: A mountain chain divides France and Spain.
c. To sector into units of measurement; graduate: The ruler was divided into metric units.
d. To group according to kind; classify or assign: divided the plants into different species.
a. To cause to separate into opposing factions; disunite: "They want not to divide either the Revolution or the Church but to be an integral part of both" (Conor Cruise O'Brien).
b. To cause (members of a parliament) to vote by separating into groups, as pro and con.
3. To give out or apportion among a number: Volunteers divided the different jobs among themselves. See Synonyms at distribute.
a. To subject (a number) to the process of division: divided 20 by 4.
b. To be a divisor of: 3 divides 9.
c. To use (a number) as a divisor: divided 5 into 35.
a. To become separated into parts: The mixture will divide into several layers if left unagitated.
b. To branch out, as a river or a blood vessel.
c. To form into factions; take sides: The party divided evenly on the tax issue.
d. To vote by dividing.
2. Mathematics To perform the operation of division.
3. Biology To undergo cell division.
1. A dividing point or line: "would clearly tip the court ... across a dangerous constitutional divide" (Lawrence H. Tribe).
2. See watershed.
divide and conquer
1. To exploit one's opponents' internal rivalries or divisions so as to prevent them from unifying against oneself, so that they may be defeated one by one.
2. To divide one's own forces or personnel so as to deal with different tasks simultaneously.
[Middle English dividen, from Latin dīvidere : dī-, dis-, dis- + -videre, to separate.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.