October 18, 2011
demarcate (verb)
\dih-MAHR-kayt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : to mark the limits or boundaries of2 : to set apart : distinguish
How do you use it?
The neighbors' new fence clearly demarcates the extent of their property and keeps their dogs away from the road.
Are you a word wiz?

The English word "demarcate" owes its origin to an important event in history. Which of these do you think led to the development of the word "demarcate"?

The history of "demarcate" takes us back to the 1400s and the age of exploration. Upon receiving news of Columbus's landing in the New World, Spain quickly sought to claim territorial rights. The pope, who often arbitrated international matters, decreed a line dividing New World territory between Spain and Portugal. It was known as the "linea de demarcacion," from Spanish "demarcar," meaning "to fix the boundary of." Portugal and other nations rejected the line, which was later redrawn by treaty. English speakers began calling this boundary the "line of demarcation," and eventually applied that phrase to other dividing lines as well. "Demarcation" gave rise to "demarcate" in the early 19th century.
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