Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To break or wrench apart; sever. See Synonyms at separate.
  • intransitive v. To break into parts.
  • n. A division or separation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Sundry; different.
  • v. To break or separate or to break apart, especially with force.
  • v. To part, separate.
  • v. To expose to the sun and wind.
  • n. a separation into parts; a division or severance

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A separation into parts; a division or severance.
  • intransitive v. To part; to separate.
  • transitive v. To disunite in almost any manner, either by rending, cutting, or breaking; to part; to put or keep apart; to separate; to divide; to sever
  • transitive v. To expose to the sun and wind.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Apart; asunder: used only in the adverbial phrase on sunder, in sunder, now reduced to asunder, apart, in which, in the fuller form, sunder assumes the aspect of a noun.
  • To part; separate; keep apart; divide; sever; disunite in any manner, as by natural conditions (as of location), opening, rending, cutting, breaking, etc.
  • Synonyms To disjoin, disconnect, sever, dissever, dissociate.
  • To part; be separated; quit each other; be severed.
  • To expose to or dry in the sun, as hay.

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

  • v. break apart or in two, using violence

Etymologies

Middle English sundren, from Old English sundrian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English sundor- ("separate, different"), from Proto-Germanic *sundraz (“isolated, particular, alone”), from Proto-Indo-European *snter-, *seni-, *senu-, *san- (“apart, without, for oneself”). Cognate with Old Saxon sundar ("particular, special"), Dutch zonder ("without"), German sonder ("special, set apart"), Old Norse sundr ("separate"), Danish sønder ("apart, asunder"), Latin sine ("without"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English sundren ("to separate, part, divide"), from Old English sundrian ("to separate, split, part, divide"), from Proto-Germanic *sundrōnan (“to separate”), from Proto-Indo-European *sen(e)- (“separate, without”). Cognate with Scots sinder, sunder ("to separate, divide, split up"), Dutch zonderen ("to isolate"), German sondern ("to separate"), Swedish söndra ("to divide"). More at sundry. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • “I must cleave in sunder that which has been joined.”

    Episode 9: 2 What the Sage of Hinga Lum Dura Clove in Sunder « Unknowing

  • As I lay wondering at this lo! it ran upon me and smiting me with its claws, rent my belly in sunder; whereupon I awoke startled and trembling.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Now the badawi was bent double with the blow, so Gharib smote him with his mace and clove his forehead in sunder and he fell down dead and

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Whomsoever he smote, he clove him in sunder and before his soul could depart he became a heap of ashes in the fire; whilst the two hosts of the

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • But he ceased not to repeat conjurations and they to call for help, till the two caskets flew in sunder, the fragments flying about, and there came forth two men, with pinioned hands saying,

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Then we tied a great rope round her middle and haled at it; but the rope broke in sunder, and she stirred not; and the villagers came and did the like, but could not move her from her place. 210 At last, when all means failed, we said to one of the two Shaykhs, ‘Come thou and lift her.’

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Gharib hath with him the enchanted sword of Japhet son of Noah, and whomsoever he smiteth therewith he severeth him in sunder, and with him also are two Marids from Mount Caucasus, given to him by King

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • The lion ran at him, but Ali of Cairo smote him between the eyes with his chopper and cut him in sunder, whilst the caravan-leader and the merchants looked on.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Kamakim went straight to the depressed floor of the saloon and came to the slab, under which he had buried the stolen goods and let the rod fall upon it with such violence that the marble broke in sunder and behold something glittered underneath.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Upon this the Badawi waxed wroth and they drove at each other, shouting aloud, whilst their horses pricked their ears and raised their tails. 103 And they ceased not clashing together with such a crash that it seemed to each as if the firmament were split in sunder, and they continued to strive like two rams which butt, smiting and exchanging with their spears thrust and cut.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

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  • "The muted, yellow papyrus left no doubt in Langdon's mind as to its age and authenticity, but excluding the inevitable fading, the document was in superb condition. Slight bleaching of the pigment. Minor sundering and cohesion of the papyrus. But all in all ... in damn fine condition."
    - 'Angels and Demons', Dan Brown.

    February 28, 2008

  • "The aged sisters draw us into life: we wail, batten, sport, clip, clasp, sunder, dwindle, die: over us dead they bend."
    Joyce, Ulysses, 14

    January 20, 2007