Department

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DEPARTMENT. A portion of a country. In France, the country is divided into departments, which are somewhat similar to the counties in this country. The United States have been divided into military departments, including certain portions of the country. 1 Pet. 293.
     2. By department is also meant the division of authority, as, the department of state, of the navy, &c.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
'The Circumlocution Department, sir,' Mr Barnacle replied, 'may have possibly recommended--possibly--I cannot say--that some public claim against the insolvent estate of a firm or copartnership to which this person may have belonged, should be enforced.
'The Circumlocution Department,' said Mr Barnacle, 'is not responsible for any gentleman's assumptions.'
'It is competent,' said Mr Barnacle, 'to any member of the-- Public,' mentioning that obscure body with reluctance, as his natural enemy, 'to memorialise the Circumlocution Department. Such formalities as are required to be observed in so doing, may be known on application to the proper branch of that Department.'
'I must refer you,' returned Mr Barnacle, ringing the bell, 'to the Department itself for a formal answer to that inquiry.'
'The Department is accessible to the--Public,' Mr Barnacle was always checked a little by that word of impertinent signification,
You had better try the Secretarial Department,' he said at last, sidling to the bell and ringing it.
Then you'll find out what Department the contract was in, and then you'll find out all about it there.'
Then you'll memorialise that Department (according to regular forms which you'll find out) for leave to memorialise this Department.
This touch and go young Barnacle had 'got up' the Department in a private secretaryship, that he might be ready for any little bit of fat that came to hand; and he fully understood the Department to be a politico-diplomatic hocus pocus piece of machinery for the assistance of the nobs in keeping off the snobs.
The problem immediately before the Chief Inspector was that of managing the Assistant Commissioner of his department, his immediate superior.
He knew that a department is at the mercy of its subordinate officers, who have their own conceptions of loyalty.
He did not even look round when he heard the mutter of the word "Providential" from the principal subordinate of his department, whose name, printed sometimes in the papers, was familiar to the great public as that of one of its zealous and hard-working protectors.