Definitions

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

  • transitive verb To cut apart or separate (tissue), especially for anatomical study.
  • transitive verb To examine, analyze, or criticize in minute detail.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cut in pieces; divide into parts with or as with a cutting instrument: as, to dissect a fowl. Specifically
  • 2. To cut in pieces, or separate the distinct or elementary parts of, as an animal or a plant, for the purpose of studying its organization or the functions and morbid affections of its organs and tissues; anatomize.
  • To examine part by part or point by point; treat or consider piecemeal; analyze, as for the purpose of criticism; describe in detail: as, to dissect a man's character.
  • In geology, to cut up or erode (a plateau, mountain, etc.) into numerous irregular valleys or ravines: as, a dissected plateau; a dissected mountain-range.

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

  • transitive verb (Anat.) To divide into separate parts; to cut in pieces; to separate and expose the parts of, as an animal or a plant, for examination and to show their structure and relations; to anatomize.
  • transitive verb To analyze, for the purposes of science or criticism; to divide and examine minutely.

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

  • verb transitive To study an animal's anatomy by cutting it apart; to perform a necropsy or an autopsy.
  • verb transitive To study a plant or other organism's anatomy similarly.
  • verb transitive To analyze an idea in detail by separating it into its parts.
  • verb transitive, anatomy, surgery To separate muscles, organs, and so on without cutting into them or disrupting their architecture.
  • verb transitive, pathology Of an infection or foreign material, following the fascia separating muscles or other organs.

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

  • verb cut open or cut apart
  • verb make a mathematical, chemical, or grammatical analysis of; break down into components or essential features

Etymologies

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

[Latin dissecāre, dissect-, to cut apart : dis-, dis- + secāre, to cut up; see sek- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin dissecare ("to cut asunder, cut up"), from dis- ("asunder") + secare ("to cut"); see section.

Examples

  • Those titles dissect companies that exhibit an attribute -- long-term financial success, say -- and then describe the behaviors they use to achieve that result.

    The Master Of Innovation

  • More to the point, readers who reject all approaches to fiction that go beyond its potential to entertain or provide pleasure are not thereby safeguarding the purity of reading, nor are readers who attempt to in one way or another to "dissect" works of fiction violating that purity.

    Principles of Literary Criticism

  • And here to help us kind of dissect this in really a long history of scaring you to the polls and making you vote for a certain candidate.

    CNN Transcript Jan 3, 2008

  • But I can say with confidence that political strategists who cannot either construct or "dissect" the emotional structure of an ad like this present a far greater danger to the Democratic Party and its values than all President Bush's appointees to the federal bench.

    Drew Westen: Winning Hearts and Minds: Why Rational Appeals Are Irrational If Your Goal is Winning Elections

  • It's another thing for it to be broadcast, where panels like this one can assemble and on a daily basis kind of dissect everything that's been done.

    CNN Transcript May 27, 2003

  • To understand a lot of the legalese that we heard taking place over the last several minutes, we have our legal analyst Roger Cossack to kind of dissect it and explain to us what was taking place.

    CNN Transcript - Special Event: Robert Downey, Jr. Pleads Not Guilty on Drug Charges - December 27, 2000

  • In the elementary classroom of Sandy Stevens and Linda Amis students decided to 'dissect' a high school project question to see if they had a clear understanding of its meaning.

    DesMoinesRegister.com - NEWS

  • In the elementary classroom of Sandy Stevens and Linda Amis students decided to 'dissect' a high school project question to see if they had a clear understanding of its meaning.

    DesMoinesRegister.com - NEWS

  • In the elementary classroom of Sandy Stevens and Linda Amis students decided to 'dissect' a high school project question to see if they had a clear understanding of its meaning.

    DesMoinesRegister.com - NEWS

  • In fact the more we "dissect" Life itself thus separate and categorize it with such tenacity, do we find ourselves falling further and further away from the Truth of Life - God if you will. en Español

    Yahoo! Answers: Latest Questions

Comments

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  • BrE speakers strongly prefer a diphthong /daɪ-/ in the initial syllable to /dɪ-/ (89% in a 2007 survey for the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary).

    August 4, 2008