Word of the Day: DICHOTOMY

di·chot·o·my  noun \dī-ˈkä-tə-mē also də-\

: a difference between two opposite things : a division into two opposite groups

plural di·chot·o·mies

Full Definition of DICHOTOMY

1:  a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities <the dichotomy between theory and practice>; also :  the process or practice of making such a division <dichotomy of the population into two opposed classes>
2:  the phase of the moon or an inferior planet in which half its disk appears illuminated

3a :  bifurcation; especially :  repeated bifurcation (as of a plant’s stem)

 b :  a system of branching in which the main axis forks repeatedly into two branches
 c :  branching of an ancestral line into two equal diverging branches
4:  something with seemingly contradictory qualities <it’s a dichotomy, this opulent Ritz-style luxury in a place that fronts on a boat harbor — Jean T. Barrett>

Examples of DICHOTOMY

  1. Her essay discusses the dichotomy between good and evil in the author’s novels.
  2. <her outfit is a sartorial dichotomy: an elegant gown and ratty old tennis shoes>
  3. The amusing spectacle of the recent presidential vote in Florida should remind us of the persistence of the federal-state dichotomy. —Eugene Genovese, Atlantic, March 2001
  4. At the close of this millennium, the favored dichotomy features a supposed battle called the science wars. —Stephen Jay Gould, Science, 14 Jan. 2000
  5. … to insist on its being either symbol or fact is to dwell needlessly on a false dichotomy. —Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, 1988
  6. … the Inuit concept of their environment was centred around the dichotomy between land and sea. —Ian Hodder, Reading the Past, 1986


Greek dichotomia, from dichotomos (see dichotomous)

First Known Use: 1610

Related to DICHOTOMY


noun \dī-ˈkät-ə-mē also də-\   (Medical Dictionary)

plural di·chot·o·mies

Medical Definition of DICHOTOMY

: a division or forking into branches; especially : repeated bifurcation

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