Webster 1913 Edition



, fr.
, to cut; akin to E.
a cutting instrument: cf. F.
. See
, and cf.
The act of cutting, or separation by cutting;
as, the
of bodies
A part separated from something; a division; a portion; a slice.
Specifically: –
A distinct part or portion of a book or writing; a subdivision of a chapter; the division of a law or other writing; a paragraph; an article; hence, the character §, often used to denote such a division.
It is hardly possible to give a distinct view of his several arguments in distinct
A distinct part of a country or people, community, class, or the like; a part of a territory separated by geographical lines, or of a people considered as distinct.
The extreme
of one class consists of bigoted dotards, the extreme
of the other consists of shallow and reckless empirics.
One of the portions, of one square mile each, into which the public lands of the United States are divided; one thirty-sixth part of a township. These sections are subdivided into quarter sections for sale under the homestead and preemption laws.
The figure made up of all the points common to a superficies and a solid which meet, or to two superficies which meet, or to two lines which meet. In the first case the section is a superficies, in the second a line, and in the third a point.
(Nat. Hist.)
A division of a genus; a group of species separated by some distinction from others of the same genus; – often indicated by the sign §.
A part of a musical period, composed of one or more phrases. See
The description or representation of anything as it would appear if cut through by any intersecting plane; depiction of what is beyond a plane passing through, or supposed to pass through, an object, as a building, a machine, a succession of strata; profile.
☞ In mechanical drawing, as in these Illustrations of a cannon, a longitudinal section (a) usually represents the object as cut through its center lengthwise and vertically; a cross or transverse section (b), as cut crosswise and vertically; and a horizontal section (c), as cut through its center horizontally. Oblique sections are made at various angles. In architecture, a vertical section is a drawing showing the interior, the thickness of the walls, etc., as if made on a vertical plane passed through a building.
Angular sections
a branch of analysis which treats of the relations of sines, tangents, etc., of arcs to the sines, tangents, etc., of their multiples or of their parts.
Conic sections
See under
Section liner
an instrument to aid in drawing a series of equidistant parallel lines, – used in representing sections.
Thin section
a section or slice, as of mineral, animal, or vegetable substance, thin enough to be transparent, and used for study under the microscope.
Syn. – Part; portion; division.
. The English more commonly apply the word section to a part or portion of a body of men;
as, a
of the clergy, a small
of the Whigs, etc.
In the United States this use is less common, but another use, unknown or but little known in England, is very frequent, as in the phrases “the eastern section of our country,” etc., the same sense being also given to the adjective sectional; as, sectional feelings, interests, etc.

Webster 1828 Edition



[L. sectio; seco, to cut off.]
1. The act of cutting or of separating by cutting; as the section of the bodies.

Definition 2024





section (plural sections)

  1. A cutting; a part cut out from the rest of something.
  2. A part, piece, subdivision of anything.
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, Our banks are out of control”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21:
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. […]  But the scandals kept coming, and so we entered stage three – what therapists call "bargaining". A broad section of the political class now recognises the need for change but remains unable to see the necessity of a fundamental overhaul. Instead it offers fixes and patches.
    1. (music) A group of instruments in an orchestra.
      The horn section is the group of symphonic musicians who play the French horn.
  3. A part of a document.
  4. An act or instance of cutting.
  5. A cross-section (image that shows an object as if cut along a plane).
    1. (aviation) A cross-section perpendicular the longitudinal axis of an aircraft in flight.
  6. (surgery) An incision or the act of making an incision.
  7. (sciences) A thin slice of material prepared as a specimen for research.
  8. (botany) A taxonomic rank below the genus (and subgenus if present), but above the species.
  9. (zoology) An informal taxonomic rank below the order ranks and above the family ranks.
  10. (military) A group of 10-15 soldiers led by a non-commissioned officer and forming part of a platoon.
  11. (category theory) A right inverse.
  12. (New Zealand) A piece of residential land; a plot.
  13. (Canada) A one-mile square area of land, defined by a government survey.



Coordinate terms


Derived terms

Related terms



section (third-person singular simple present sections, present participle sectioning, simple past and past participle sectioned)

  1. To cut, divide or separate into pieces.
  2. (Britain) To commit (a person, to a hospital, with or without their consent), as for mental health reasons. So called after various sections of legal acts regarding mental health.
    • 1998, Diana Gittins, Madness in its Place: Narratives of Severalls Hospital, 1913-1997, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-18388-8, page 45:
      Tribunals were set up as watchdogs in cases of compulsory detention (sectioning). [] Informal patients, however, could be sectioned, and this was often a fear of patients once they were in hospital.
    • a. 2000, Lucy Johnstone, Users and Abusers of Psychiatry: A Critical Look at Psychiatric Practice, Second Edition, Routledge (2000), ISBN 978-0-415-21155-0, page xiv:
      The doctor then sectioned her, making her an involuntary patient, and had her moved to a secure ward.
    • 2006, Mairi Colme, A Divine Dance of Madness, Chipmunkapublishing, ISBN 978-1-84747-023-2, page 5:
      After explaining that for 7 years, from ’88 to ’95, I was permanently sectioned under the Mental Health act, robbed of my freedom, my integrity, my rights, I wrote at the time;- ¶ []
  3. (medical): To perform a cesarean section on (someone).
    • 2012, Anne Fraser, St. Piran's: Daredevil, Doctor...Dad!, Harlequin, page 16:
      "But if she's gone into active labour she could be bleeding massively and you may have to section her there and then."
    • 2008, Murray et al, Labor and Delivery Nursing: Guide to Evidence-Based Practice, Springer Publishing Company, page 57:
      You may hear a physician say, "I don't want to section her until the baby declares itself."





  • IPA(key): /sɛk.sjɔ̃/


From Latin sectio.


section f (plural sections)

  1. section (all meanings)