early 14c., from Latin dividere "to force apart, cleave, distribute," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + -videre "to separate," from PIE root *weidh- "to separate" (see widow; also see with).
Mathematical sense is from early 15c. Divide and rule (c.1600) translates Latin divide et impera, a maxim of Machiavelli. Related: Divided; dividing.
1640s, "act of dividing," from divide (v.). Meaning "watershed, separation between river valleys" is first recorded 1807, American English.
divide di·vide (dĭ-vīd')
v. di·vid·ed, di·vid·ing, di·vides
To separate or become separated into parts, sections, groups, or branches.
To sector into units of measurement; graduate.
To separate and group according to kind; classify.
To branch out, as a blood vessel.
To undergo cell division.