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Definition of Divorce

(noun) The formal legal or socially sanctioned termination of a marriage.

Examples of Divorce

  • Prince Charles (now Charles III) and Lady Diana Spencer (1996)
  • Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (2008)

Divorce Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: di·vorce

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /dɪˈvɔrs/
  • British English – /dɪˈvɔːs/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: divorces
  • This is a simplified definition of a vast continuum of societal and cultural practices which determine the basis for a divorce and the repercussions.
  • In contrast to divorce, a separation is a temporary break in a marriage that may or may not lead to a divorce.
  • family resulting from a divorce is called a divorced family and is often a single-parent family. If one of these family types joins with another it is called a blended family.
  • Type: gray divorce
  • Also called:
    • dissolution of marriage
    • divorcement
    • marital separation
  • A (noun) divorcée is a divorced individual, typically referring to a woman and a (noun) divorcer (verb) divorces another individual for (adjective) divorceable or (adjective) divorcive reasons.

Related Quotation

Additional Information

Related Terms


Cherlin, Andrew. 1978. “Remarriage as an Incomplete Institution.” American Journal of Sociology 84(3):634–50. doi:10.1086/226830.

Works Consulted

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Divorce

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “divorce.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/divorce/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

divorce. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/divorce/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “divorce.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/divorce/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“divorce.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 23 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/divorce/>.