[ kuhm-pahrt-men-tl-ahyz, kom-pahrt- ]
See synonyms for compartmentalize on
verb (used with object),com·part·men·tal·ized, com·part·men·tal·iz·ing.
  1. to divide into separate and isolated categories, sections, areas, or compartments: Instead of compartmentalizing tasks, employees can be trained broadly.

  2. Psychology. to mentally separate or set aside (one’s incompatible or negative emotions, beliefs, or behaviors): Ripley, a serial killer, has the capacity to compartmentalize his thoughts, push his conscience conveniently aside, in order to live with himself. Unfortunately, the experiences at work are not easily compartmentalized—they stay with the nurses and affect every aspect of their lives.

Origin of compartmentalize

First recorded in 1920–25; compartmental + -ize
  • Also especially British, com·part·men·tal·ise .

Other words from compartmentalize

  • com·part·men·tal·i·za·tion [kuhm-pahrt-men-tl-ahy-zey-shuhn, kom-pahrt-], /kəm pɑrtˌmɛn tlˌaɪˈzeɪ ʃən, ˌkɒm pɑrt-/, noun
  • de·com·part·men·tal·ize, verb (used with object), de·com·part·men·tal·ized, de·com·part·men·tal·iz·ing.

Words Nearby compartmentalize Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use compartmentalize in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for compartmentalize



/ (ˌkɒmpɑːtˈmɛntəˌlaɪz) /

  1. (usually tr) to put or divide into (compartments, categories, etc), esp to an excessive degree

Derived forms of compartmentalize

  • compartmentalization or compartmentalisation, noun

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