[ verb, adjective bahy-fer-keyt, bahy-fur-keyt; adjective bahy-fer-kit, bahy-fur- ]
/ verb, adjective ˈbaɪ fərˌkeɪt, baɪˈfɜr keɪt; adjective ˈbaɪ fər kɪt, baɪˈfɜr- /

verb (used with or without object), bi·fur·cat·ed, bi·fur·cat·ing.

to divide or fork into two branches.


divided into two branches.



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Question 1 of 10

Origin of bifurcate

1605–15; < Medieval Latin bifurcātus, past participle of bifurcāre (bi- bi-1 + furc(a) fork + -ātus -ate1)


bi·fur·cate·ly [bahy-fer-keyt-lee; bahy-fur-keyt-lee, -kit-] /ˌbaɪ fərˈkeɪt li; baɪˈfɜr keɪt li, -kɪt-/, adverbbi·fur·ca·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does bifurcation mean?

Bifurcation is the act of splitting something into two branches, or an example of a situation where something splits or there is a fork.

Bifurcation is based on the verb bifurcate, which means to divide or fork into two branches. These words are most often used in technical and scientific contexts, such as engineering and medicine.

Example: The hiking trail has a bifurcation about three miles in; make sure you go down the left branch.

Where does bifurcation come from?

The first records of bifurcation come from the 1600s. It is the noun form of the verb bifurcate, which comes from the Medieval Latin bifurcātus, formed from the prefix bi-, meaning “two,” and the root furc(a), meaning “fork” (as in a fork in the road or a river).

You wouldn’t normally call a fork in a road a bifurcation, unless you wanted to sound overly technical. But scientists use that word for a fork in a river. It is used in many contexts in which such structures are discussed in technical or scientific terms. Bifurcations can be found throughout nature in things like Y-shaped flowers, the tongues of snakes, even parts of the human body that fork into different channels, such as the arteries of the heart.

Bifurcation can also refer to the action of splitting something into two. The term is used in different ways in the fields of mathematics, chemistry, and engineering, among others.

Bifurcations can also happen to entities like organizations or governments that are split into different parts or factions. In golf, bifurcation refers to the proposal to have different equipment for professional and amateur players.

Things don’t always fork into two—they can also branch out in furcations or trifurcations.

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What are some other forms related to bifurcation?

  • bifurcate (verb)
  • bifurcated (adjective)

What are some synonyms for bifurcation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bifurcation

What are some words that often get used in discussing bifurcation?

How is bifurcation used in real life?

Bifurcation is almost always used in technical or scientific contexts, especially biology, medicine, and engineering.



Try using bifurcation!

Which of the following things would be likely to have a bifurcation in it?

A. a tree branch
B. an artery
C. a river
D. all of the above

Example sentences from the Web for bifurcation

British Dictionary definitions for bifurcation


verb (ˈbaɪfəˌkeɪt)

to fork or divide into two parts or branches

adjective (ɪbaɪˈfəˌkeɪt, -kɪt)

forked or divided into two sections or branches

Derived forms of bifurcate

bifurcation, noun

Word Origin for bifurcate

C17: from Medieval Latin bifurcātus, from Latin bifurcus, from bi- 1 + furca fork
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

Medical definitions for bifurcation (1 of 2)

[ bī′fər-kāshən ]


A division into two branches; a forking.

Medical definitions for bifurcation (2 of 2)

[ bīfər-kāt′, bī-fûr- ]


To divide into two parts or branches.


Forked or divided into two parts or branches.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for bifurcation

[ bīfər-kāt′, bī-fûr- ]

Forked or divided into two parts or branches, as the Y-shaped styles of certain flowers or the tongues of snakes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.