The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Section \Sec"tion\, n. [L. sectio, fr. secare, sectum, to cut;
akin to E. saw a cutting instrument: cf. F. section. See
Saw, and cf. Scion, Dissect, Insect, Secant,
1. The act of cutting, or separation by cutting; as, the
section of bodies.
2. A part separated from something; a division; a portion; a
(a) 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 [sect], often used to denote such a
It is hardly possible to give a distinct view of
his several arguments in distinct sections.
(b) 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
The extreme section of one class consists of
bigoted dotards, the extreme section of the
other consists of shallow and reckless empirics.
(c) 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.
3. (Geom.) 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.
4. (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 [sect].
5. (Mus.) A part of a musical period, composed of one or more
phrases. See Phrase.
6. 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.
Note: 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 (Math.), 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
Conic sections. (Geom.) See under Conic.
Section liner (Drawing), an instrument to aid in drawing a
series of equidistant parallel lines, -- used in
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.
Usage: Section, Part. The English more commonly apply the
word section to a part or portion of a body of men;
as, a section of the clergy, a small section 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.