[ dahy-kot-uh-mee ]
See synonyms for: dichotomydichotomiesdichotomic on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural di·chot·o·mies.
  1. division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.

  2. division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.

  1. Botany. a mode of branching by constant forking, as in some stems, in veins of leaves, etc.

  2. Astronomy. the phase of the moon or of an inferior planet when half of its disk is visible.

Origin of dichotomy

First recorded in 1580–90; from Late Latin dichotomia, from Greek dichotomía “dividing in two (of the quarters of the moon), point of a bisection, division into two parts”; see origin at dicho-, -tomy

Other words from dichotomy

  • di·cho·tom·ic [dahy-kuh-tom-ik], /ˌdaɪ kəˈtɒm ɪk/, adjective
  • di·cho·tom·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • sub·di·chot·o·my, noun, plural sub·di·chot·o·mies.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use dichotomy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dichotomy


/ (daɪˈkɒtəmɪ) /

nounplural -mies
  1. division into two parts or classifications, esp when they are sharply distinguished or opposed: the dichotomy between eastern and western cultures

  2. logic the division of a class into two mutually exclusive subclasses: the dichotomy of married and single people

  1. botany a simple method of branching by repeated division into two equal parts

  2. the phase of the moon, Venus, or Mercury when half of the disc is visible

Origin of dichotomy

C17: from Greek dichotomia; see dicho-, -tomy

usage For dichotomy

Dichotomy should always refer to a division of some kind into two groups. It is sometimes used to refer to a puzzling situation which seems to involve a contradiction, but this use is generally thought to be incorrect

Derived forms of dichotomy

  • dichotomous or dichotomic (ˌdaɪkəʊˈtɒmɪk), adjective
  • dichotomously, adverb

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