One can say, “Trees separated by fences”, or “Posts split by comments”; or use the active, “Fences separate the trees” and “Comments split the posts”. The mind's eye may see posts with the first passive expression, and see comments with the second active, but the comments don't necessarily get any denser or longer in the mind's eye with those verbs.

I'm trying to find words or verbs that, when used, make the mind’s eye see the separator or divider more than the divided, and also see the divider bigger or magnified, just by the verb describing the dividing. For example, even if the trees are thicker than fences, the posts may not necessarily be longer than the comments, so I'm wondering if there is a word I can use to describe the division or partitioning while giving the impression that the divider, the comments for example, are longer, thicker, and denser than the divided, the posts.

Please don't get hung up on the examples used, the posts, comments, trees, and fences; they're just examples. I'm more interested in whether there is a verb or words that can deliver the meaning on my mind. It can very much be literary or metaphorical.

  • Fences separating trees? Jul 13, 2015 at 19:27
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    The computer-programming term delimited (as in tab-delimited, comma-delimited, pipe-delimited) might be what we need. Jul 13, 2015 at 19:33
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    Words don't do that kind of fine filigree work on visual scenes. You apparently think very visually and use language to suit; but many people don't, and therefore don't have many (or even any) adaptations to that. And if they did, they probly developed them for their own usage and they aren't the same as the ones you use. Jul 13, 2015 at 19:36
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    @MattGutting After contemplation, and again visualizing what the word represents in my mind, I like delimited a lot, too; it makes me feel that the separated is small, and the separator is giving it its borders. Please include it as an answer.
    – Rok
    Jul 13, 2015 at 19:40
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    Interestingly enough, this is an official example from Dictionary.com for the use of “delimited”: “The land was rocky and every farm had high stone walls that delimited every field.”
    – Rok
    Jul 13, 2015 at 19:47

4 Answers 4


A delimiter is a term used in computing to denote

a sequence of one or more characters used to specify the boundary between separate, independent regions


When a particular character is used as a delimiter between regions (of data in a stream), the data is said to be delimited by that character. For example, a list like


is delimited by a comma, and is said to be comma-delimited. The emphasis when using that description is less on what is in the list, and more on the comma used to separate the elements in the list. The importance, for computing usage at any rate, is that a predictable item—a comma in this instance—is used to separate elements of the list, and therefore any given list item can be found by counting delimiters.

One could certainly imagine using that language as a metaphor for a more general relationship between those things which are separated and those which separate, with emphasis on the separators.


Overshadow/Overshadowed can be used to inform the reader that (in your example) the fence is more visually imposing or important than the trees.

to cause (something or someone) to seem less important or impressive when compared to something or someone else (m-w.com)

So: The massive stone wall's bulk overshadowed even the willowy trees that reached insubstantially above the crenelated top.

Or: The garishly painted and rickety fence's boisterous colors overshadowed the monochrome trees on either side.

  • Beautiful! Thank you. This is not going to be an easy choice at all for me if the others choose to put the words from their comments into answers, as I suggested. But I hope that the community simply upvotes all worthy answers, so my personal favorite can become a bit irrelevant.
    – Rok
    Jul 13, 2015 at 19:51

You can always say someone/something is building or putting up a wall between themselves/itself and whatever.

  • Thank you. That's a valuable addition. I was always planning to settle for an expression if a word doesn't give me the exact feeling I'm looking for.
    – Rok
    Jul 13, 2015 at 19:41


something that crosses or lies across

from Merriam Webster

If you construct the sentence such that the divider is defined by its role in dividing something, I think emphasizing the thing being divided is inevitable.

What you want instead is a word which implies moving through something, or pushing things out of the way, or some other action which the divider takes.

For examples of what I mean, refer to this article. It's USDA Forestry article about a fence they've built. (There's nothing special about this article, it was just near the top of my google results.)


The fence will span seven miles...

The fence traverses a variety of landscapes and terrain including woodland forests, riparian areas, mountain meadows, and steep hillsides.

Words like "span," "sprawl," "wind," and "meander" work in the same way.

  • Thank you, @WithScience. One of the things I love the most about reading answers here is, not picking a largely subjective and circumstantial favorite as an “answer”, but learning so many new things about language, its beauty, and its nuances and subtleties. Your answer taught me that I can, not just emphasize size or magnitude, but also emphasize motion of the separator, going through the static separated in the background. The literary need on my mind now favors both being static, but I'm grateful for what I learned nevertheless. It is empowering. Thank you. I wish I can upvote!
    – Rok
    Jul 13, 2015 at 20:07
  • @Rok, you should go with something that implies immobility, then, like "lies on," or "presides over." Jul 13, 2015 at 20:58

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