Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To separate or unfasten; disconnect.
  • transitive verb To remove from association or union with something.
  • transitive verb To send (troops or ships, for example) on a special mission.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To unfasten; disunite; disengage and separate, as one thing from another: as, to detach a locomotive from a train; to detach a rock from its bed; to detach the seal from a document; to detach a man from his party.
  • To separate for a special purpose or service; send away, as from a post of duty or a larger body, on a distinct mission: chiefly in military use: as, to detach a ship or a regiment for some special duty; to detach an officer from a ship or station.
  • Synonyms To sever, withdraw, draw off, disjoin, disconnect unhitch.
  • To detail.
  • To become detached or separated; separate or disunite itself or one's self.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To push asunder; to come off or separate from anything; to disengage.
  • transitive verb To part; to separate or disunite; to disengage; -- the opposite of attach
  • transitive verb To separate for a special object or use; -- used especially in military language.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To take apart from; to take off.

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

  • verb separate (a small unit) from a larger, especially for a special assignment
  • verb come to be detached
  • verb cause to become detached or separated; take off

Etymologies

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

[French détacher, from Old French destachier : des-, de- + attachier, to attach; see attach.]

Examples

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