[bahy-nuh-ree, -ner-ee]


noun, plural bi·na·ries.

Origin of binary

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin bīnārius, equivalent to bīn(ī) (see bin-) + -ārius -ary
Can be confusedbinary bindery Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for binary

double, dual, twice, binate, doubled

Examples from the Web for binary

Contemporary Examples of binary

Historical Examples of binary

  • Each pair is apparently a binary; but the period of revolution is unknown.

  • It is regarded as a binary of long and as yet unascertained period.

  • Antares is probably a binary, although its binary character has not yet been established.

  • It is only in the case of binary systems that we can discover the masses of stars at all.

    Astronomy of To-day

    Cecil G. Dolmage

  • The binary coloured systems are not all composed of blue and red suns.

    Everyday Objects

    W. H. Davenport Adams

British Dictionary definitions for binary



composed of, relating to, or involving two; dual
maths computing of, relating to, or expressed in binary notation or binary code
(of a compound or molecule) containing atoms of two different elements
metallurgy (of an alloy) consisting of two components or phases
(of an educational system) consisting of two parallel forms of education such as the grammar school and the secondary modern in Britain
maths logic (of a relation, expression, or operation) applying to two elements of its domain; having two argument places; dyadic

noun plural -ries

something composed of two parts or things
astronomy See binary star
short for binary weapon

Word Origin for binary

C16: from Late Latin bīnārius; see bin-
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

Word Origin and History for binary

"dual," mid-15c., from Late Latin binarius "consisting of two," from bini "twofold, two apiece, two-by-two" (used especially of matched things), from bis "double" (see bis-). Binary code in computer terminology was in use by 1952, though the idea itself is ancient. Binary star in astronomy is from 1802.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

binary in Medicine




Characterized by or consisting of two parts or components; twofold.
Consisting of or containing only molecules having two kinds of atoms.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

binary in Science



Having two parts.
Mathematics Based on the number 2 or the binary number system.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

binary in Culture


[(beye-nuh-ree, beye-ner-ee)]

Anything composed of two parts. In modern computers, information is stored in banks of components that act like switches. Since switches can be either on or off, they have a binary character, and we say that the computer uses “binary arithmetic” to do its work.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.