See more synonyms for bipolar on
  1. having two poles, as the earth.
  2. of, relating to, or found at both polar regions.
  3. characterized by opposite extremes, as two conflicting political philosophies.
  4. Electronics. of or relating to a transistor that uses both positive and negative charge carriers.
  5. Psychiatry. of, relating to, or having bipolar disorder: His wife is bipolar.

Origin of bipolar

First recorded in 1800–10; bi-1 + polar
Related formsbi·po·lar·i·ty, nounbi·po·lar·i·za·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bipolar

Contemporary Examples of bipolar

Historical Examples of bipolar

  • 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.


    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.

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


    David Todd

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


    David Todd

British Dictionary definitions for bipolar


  1. having two polesa bipolar dynamo; a bipolar neuron
  2. relating to or found at the North and South Poles
  3. having or characterized by two opposed opinions, natures, etc
  4. (of a transistor) utilizing both majority and minority charge carriers
  5. suffering from bipolar manic-depressive disorder
Derived Formsbipolarity, 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

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

bipolar in Medicine


  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 mood disorder that is characterized by episodes of mania and depression.
Related formsbi′po•lari•ty (-lărĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.