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[dih-pahrt-muh nt] /dɪˈpɑrt mənt/
a distinct part of anything arranged in divisions; a division of a complex whole or organized system.
one of the principal branches of a governmental organization:
the sanitation department.
(initial capital letter) one of the principal divisions of the U.S. federal government, headed by a secretary who is a member of the president's cabinet.
a division of a business enterprise dealing with a particular area of activity:
the personnel department.
a section of a retail store selling a particular class or kind of goods:
the sportswear department.
one of the sections of a school or college dealing with a particular field of knowledge:
the English department.
one of the large districts into which certain countries, as France, are divided for administrative purposes.
a division of official business, duties, or functions:
judicial departments.
a sphere or province of activity, knowledge, or responsibility:
Paying the bills is not my department.
(usually initial capital letter) U.S. Army. (formerly) a large geographical division of the U.S. or its possessions as divided for military and defense purposes:
the Hawaiian Department.
Origin of department
1730-35; < French département, equivalent to départ(ir) (see depart) + -ment -ment
Related forms
[dih-pahrt-men-tl, dee-pahrt-] /dɪ pɑrtˈmɛn tl, ˌdi pɑrt-/ (Show IPA),
departmentally, adverb
nondepartmental, adjective
nondepartmentally, adverb
predepartmental, adjective
subdepartment, noun
subdepartmental, adjective
1. branch, bureau, section, unit, segment. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for departmental
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was engaged often in departmental work which he could not even explain.

    Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • I have placed it in the Canadian room of our departmental Museum.

    The Story of My Life Egerton Ryerson
  • Roger Fauquier had been a departmental clerk for forty years.

    The Story of a Mine Bret Harte
  • But it is also, like dressmaking, carried on in shops and in departmental stores.

    The Canadian Girl at Work Marjory MacMurchy
  • He was solemnly in earnest about economy and departmental mismanagement.

    Lord Randolph Churchill Winston Spencer Churchill
  • Hartwig, at that time, was the chief of his departmental staff, and he often came to see me.

    Albert Ballin Bernhard Huldermann
  • M. Pouchelet has just been elected a departmental Councillor.

    Three Plays by Brieux Eugne Brieux
  • I doubt if he was ever required to pass a departmental examination.

    A Civil Servant in Burma Herbert Thirkel White
British Dictionary definitions for departmental


a specialized division of a large concern, such as a business, store, or university: the geography department
a major subdivision or branch of the administration of a government
a branch or subdivision of learning: physics is a department of science
a territorial and administrative division in several countries, such as France
(informal) a specialized sphere of knowledge, skill, or activity: wine-making is my wife's department
Derived Forms
departmental (ˌdiːpɑːtˈmɛntəl) adjective
departmentally, adverb
Word Origin
C18: from French département, from départir to divide; see depart
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for departmental

1791, "pertaining to a French department," from French départmental, from département (see department). Meaning "of departmental systems generally" from 1832.



mid-15c., "a going away, act of leaving," from Old French departement (12c.) "division, sharing out; divorce, parting," from Late Latin departire (see depart). French department meant "group of people" (as well as "departure"), from which English borrowed the sense of "separate division, separate business assigned to someone in a larger organization" (c.1735). Meaning "separate division of a government" is from 1769. As an administrative district in France, from 1792.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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