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[bahy-poh-ler] /baɪˈpoʊ lər/
having two poles, as the earth.
of, relating to, or found at both polar regions.
characterized by opposite extremes, as two conflicting political philosophies.
Electronics. of or relating to a transistor that uses both positive and negative charge carriers.
Psychiatry. of, relating to, or having bipolar disorder:
His wife is bipolar.
Origin of bipolar
First recorded in 1800-10; bi-1 + polar
Related forms
bipolarity, noun
bipolarization, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bipolar
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Everything in nature is bipolar, or has a positive and negative pole.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Some dynamos are bipolar, or have two poles, others are multipolar or have more than two.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • If the connexion is only with one, the vesicle is called unipolar; if with two, bipolar; if with many, multipolar or stellate.

  • Unipolar spots are very seldom observed without some indication of the characteristics of bipolar groups.

    Astronomy David Todd
  • The bipolar spot seems to be the dominant type, and the unipolar type a variant of it.

    Astronomy David Todd
British Dictionary definitions for bipolar


having two poles: a bipolar dynamo, a bipolar neuron
relating to or found at the North and South Poles
having or characterized by two opposed opinions, natures, etc
(of a transistor) utilizing both majority and minority charge carriers
suffering from bipolar manic-depressive disorder
Derived Forms
bipolarity, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bipolar

"having two poles," from bi- + polar; 1810 with figurative sense of "of double aspect;" 1859 with reference to physiology. Psychiatric use in reference to what had been called manic-depressive psychosis is said to have begun 1957 with German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard. The term became popular early 1990s. Bipolar disorder was in DSM III (1980).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bipolar in Medicine

bipolar bi·po·lar (bī-pō'lər)

  1. Having two poles; used especially of nerve cells in which the branches project from two usually opposite points.

  2. Of or relating to both ends or poles of a bacterial or other cell.

  3. Of or relating to a major affective disorder that is characterized by episodes of mania and depression.

bi'po·lar'i·ty (-lār'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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bipolar in Science
  1. Relating to or having two poles or charges.

  2. Relating to a semiconductor device, such as a transistor, that exploits the electrical characteristics of contact between two substances, one with an inherent positive charge, the other with an inherent negative charge.

  3. Relating to or involving both of the Earth's polar regions.

  4. Relating to a neuron that has two processes or extremities.

  5. Relating to bipolar disorder.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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