separate into

separate into (something)

1. To split off (from a larger group) into smaller groups or discrete parts. The desk separates into six pieces that can be easily fit back together. The class separated into groups of five while going through the museum exhibit.
2. To divide a group of people or things into smaller, discrete subgroups. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "separate" and "into." Please go through that huge stack of books and separate them into three piles—ones you want to keep, ones you want to sell, and ones you don't mind giving away. They separated all the students into different groups based on their age.
See also: separate
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

separate someone or something into something

to divide people or things into subdivisions. We had to separate the kids into smaller groups. Jane separated the apples into three groups by size.
See also: separate
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Charged flakes leave the drum and fall through an electrostatic field and separate into positive and negative fractions.