Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions: "the dichotomy of the one and the many” ( Louis Auchincloss).
  • n. Astronomy The phase of the moon, Mercury, or Venus when half of the disk is illuminated.
  • n. Botany Branching characterized by successive forking into two approximately equal divisions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A separation or division into two; a distinction that results in such a division.
  • n. Such a division involving apparently incompatible or opposite principles; a duality.
  • n. The division of a class into two disjoint subclasses that are together comprehensive, as the division of man into white and not white.
  • n. The division of a genus into two species; a division into two subordinate parts.
  • n. A phase of the moon when it appears half lit and half dark, as at the quadratures.
  • n. Successive division and subdivision; successive bifurcation, as of a stem of a plant or a vein of the body into two parts as it proceeds from its origin.
  • n. A fork (bifurcation) in a stem or vein.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cutting in two; a division.
  • n. Division or distribution of genera into two species; division into two subordinate parts.
  • n. That phase of the moon in which it appears bisected, or shows only half its disk, as at the quadratures.
  • n. Successive division and subdivision, as of a stem of a plant or a vein of the body, into two parts as it proceeds from its origin; successive bifurcation.
  • n. The place where a stem or vein is forked.
  • n. Division into two; especially, the division of a class into two subclasses opposed to each other by contradiction, as the division of the term man into white and not white.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cutting in two; division into two parts or into twos; subdivision into halves or pairs; the state of being dichotomous.
  • n. Specifically — In logic, the division of a whole into two parts; binary classification. Ramus revived, against the Aristotelians, the Platonic doctrine, which has had many adherents, that all classification should be by dichotomy. But the opinion has found little favor since Kant.
  • n. In astronomy, that phase of the moon in which it appears bisected or shows only half its disk, as at the quadratures.
  • n. In botany, a mode of branching by constant forking, as is shown in some stems, the venation of some leaves, etc. This mode of branching in plants is variously modified, as when only one of the branches at each fork becomes further developed, in which case the dichotomy is said to be sympodial. If these undeveloped branches lie always upon the same side of the axis, the sympodial dichotomy is helicoid; if alternately upon opposite sides, it is scorpioid.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. being twofold; a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses

Etymologies

Greek dikhotomiā, from dikhotomos, divided in two : dikho-, dicho- + temnein, to cut; see tem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek διχότομος ("equally divided, cut in half"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • Every dichotomy is inherently false...that is part of the parti(cipa)tion

    September 28, 2012

  • There's too many false ones flying around.

    September 27, 2012

  • Poor Harls. He hadn't much liked American Psycho. Savage satirist or twisted fuck? He'd asked me, when he'd finished it. Both, I'd said. It's a false dichotomy. The romantic days of either/or are over. Who'd know that if not me? From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 23, 2012

  • dichotomy between the industrial and commercial worlds

    September 30, 2010

  • public/private
    rights/benefits
    large scale/small scale
    independence/interdependence
    individual/collective
    voluntary/involuntary
    local/federal
    domestic/international
    long term/short term
    objective/subjective
    permanent/changing
    socioeconomic/political
    rights/privileges
    children/adults
    needs/wants
    traditional/innovative
    wartime/peacetime

    September 2, 2010

  • Touché.

    March 15, 2009

  • I don't think you actually need to remove any letters, Adam...

    March 15, 2009

  • If you invert this word, remove a few letters and add a couple others, it spells the phrase "of opposition to eachother within the same entity".

    Spooky.

    March 15, 2009

  • It's people like you what cause unrest.

    November 25, 2007

  • I sometimes pronounce it ditch-uh-tome-ee, just to piss people off.

    April 20, 2007

  • I spent too many years pronouncing this word "dicktummy." I shall be forever shamed.

    April 19, 2007

  • Good call. Dichotomy is another great word. Pretty easy to use in everyday conversations, unlike some of the classics

    April 19, 2007