These are definitions for the adjective "divided" which I looked up in the dictionary because I stumbled upon the phrase "divided loyalties" which I didn't understand.

"divided" adj:

-3. Moved by conflicting interests, emotions, or activities: divided loyalties. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

-b : directed or moved toward conflicting interests, states, or objects divided loyalties (Merriam-Webster)

I know that "loyalties" means:

feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection: My loyalties lie with my family.

So what does it mean that "loyalties are moved"?

  • 4
    It doesn't say that the loyalties are moved. It says that the subject is moved by divided loyalties.
    – stangdon
    Jan 22 at 17:47
  • 1
    What is your question exactly?
    – Lambie
    Jan 22 at 17:53
  • @strangdon loyalties are moved because they are divided(definition of divided at the top says that divided means moved) Jan 22 at 18:56
  • 1
    @StaticBounce: no, loyalties are not moved. Moved in both these definitions refer to people (or to groups of people or organisations). OED definition 1a: "Affected by emotion; emotionally touched, swayed, or impressed" - this use is specifically the "swayed or impressed" part of that definition.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 22 at 20:31
  • @ColinFine I'm actually with Static on this one. In the phrase "divided loyalties", the adjective "divided" modifies the noun "loyalties", and AHD's definition of "divided" is "moved by . . .". Therefore, the loyalties are described as "moved by . . .". Similar for M-W's definition. (They're bad definitions, IMO.) Jan 23 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


This is using "moved" In a sense other than being physically moved from onme place to another. Some relevant definitions:

having strong feelings of sadness or sympathy, because of something someone has said or done:

(sense 2c) to put into activity or rouse up from inactivity; news that moved them from their torpor

(Sense 4) to prompt or rouse to the doing of something : persuade;, the report moved us to take action

(Sense 5a) to stir the emotions, feelings, or passions of; deeply moved by such kindness

So when the definition said:

Moved by conflicting interests, emotions, or activities

it meant that a person was being motivated by conflicting interests, and so on, or being induced to act by such interests.

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