Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A distinct, usually specialized division of a large organization, especially:
  • n. A principal administrative division of a government: the department of public works.
  • n. A division of a business specializing in a particular product or service: the personnel department.
  • n. A division of a school or college dealing with a particular field of knowledge: the physics department.
  • n. One of the principal executive divisions of the federal government of the United States, headed by a cabinet officer.
  • n. A section of a department store selling a particular line of merchandise: the home furnishings department.
  • n. An administrative district in France.
  • n. A unit of a warship's crew, organized by function, such as gunnery or engineering.
  • n. An area of particular knowledge or responsibility; a specialty: Getting the kids to bed is my department.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A part, portion, or subdivision.
  • n. A distinct course of life, action, study, or the like; appointed sphere or walk; province.
  • n. Subdivision of business or official duty; especially, one of the principal divisions of executive government; as, the treasury department; the war department; also, in a university, one of the divisions of instructions; as, the medical department; the department of physics.
  • n. A territorial division; a district; especially, in France, one of the districts composed of several arrondissements into which the country is divided for governmental purposes.
  • n. A military subdivision of a country; as, the Department of the Potomac.
  • n. Act of departing; departure.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Act of departing; departure.
  • n. A part, portion, or subdivision.
  • n. A distinct course of life, action, study, or the like; appointed sphere or walk; province.
  • n. Subdivision of business or official duty; especially, one of the principal divisions of executive government; ; also, in a university, one of the divisions of instruction
  • n. A territorial division; a district; esp., in France, one of the districts composed of several arrondissements into which the country is divided for governmental purposes.
  • n. A military subdivision of a country.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A separate part or division of a complex whole; a distinct branch or province; a subdivision, as of a class or group of activities, organizations, or the like: as, the various departments of life, knowledge, science, business, etc.; the departments of an army or a factory.
  • n. A division of official duties or functions; a branch of government; a distinct part of a governmental organization: as, the legislative, executive, and judicial departments; the Department of State, of the Treasury, etc. See phrases below.
  • n. A division of territory; one of the provinces or principal districts into which some countries are divided for governmental or other purposes, such as the departments of France and the military administrative departments of the United States: as, the department of Saône-et-Loire in France; the department of the Platte.
  • n. A going away; departure.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the territorial and administrative division of some countries (such as France)
  • n. a specialized division of a large organization
  • n. a specialized sphere of knowledge

Etymologies

French département, from Old French, separation, from departir, to divide; see depart.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French département. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Calling the term department store "a dirty word," the executive, whose father is CEO, said, "We wanted to signal that we were up to something."

    Investors Push Dillard Family

  • But now the assayer came up, bringing with him a nice elaborate calculation on a black slate, showing exactly how much pure gold Onucz had handed in to the coining department, how much it would be worth when coined and deducting three per cent for expenses, how much he was to receive in cash by way of exchange.

    The Poor Plutocrats

  • He started out working in the title department at the Atlanta law firm Hansell Post Brandon

    ajc.com - News

  • Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Friday that the department is abiding by its standard practice of defending existing law and that the filing doesn't mean Obama has changed his mind about wanting to see gay couples win federal recognition.

    Defending the Indefensible

  • For example, if the supervisor admits that it will be hard to get you more than the original offer because the department is already over budget for salary, you can sympathize -- and then offer some movement in your salary request in return for something unbudgeted (extra vacation) or from a non-salary budget (benefits, perks). maines19 abhiroop

    Negotiate Your Salary More Effectively | Lifehacker Australia

  • This department is the only thing between you and your family drinking unpolluted water, because some company thought it was cheaper to dump it's toxic waste into a creek than to pay for processing the waste material.

    View from the 'sidekick' seat on a Tea Party bus

  • She said the department is also working closely with Mexico on investigations and helping to mentor prosecutors there.

    U.S. in New Drug-Money Push

  • A department spokesman, in response, hailed what he called the department's "terrific flexplace program."

    AFGE pushes for flextime at Labor Department

  • I work in Australia, my department is almost eclusivly 2 up, for general duties (response) work anyway.

    Homo Electric « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • I explained that I wanted to take Course X instead of Course Y during the spring semester, but expressed my doubt that the substitution would be approved because "the department is anal" about those sorts of things.

    Fresh Paint

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