dichotomy

[ dahy-kot-uh-mee ]
/ daɪˈkɒt ə mi /

noun, plural di·chot·o·mies.

division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.
Botany. a mode of branching by constant forking, as in some stems, in veins of leaves, etc.
Astronomy. the phase of the moon or of an inferior planet when half of its disk is visible.

Origin of dichotomy

From the Greek word dichotomía, dating back to 1600–10. See dicho-, -tomy

Related forms

di·cho·tom·ic [dahy-kuh-tom-ik] /ˌdaɪ kəˈtɒm ɪk/, adjectivedi·cho·tom·i·cal·ly, adverbsub·di·chot·o·my, noun, plural sub·di·chot·o·mies.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dichotomies

  • Mr. MacLeay, himself no great friend to dichotomies in general, is completely led away by this particular one.

    Sphinx Vespiformis|Edward Newman

British Dictionary definitions for dichotomies

dichotomy

/ (daɪˈkɒtəmɪ) /

noun plural -mies

division into two parts or classifications, esp when they are sharply distinguished or opposedthe dichotomy between eastern and western cultures
logic the division of a class into two mutually exclusive subclassesthe dichotomy of married and single people
botany a simple method of branching by repeated division into two equal parts
the phase of the moon, Venus, or Mercury when half of the disc is visible

Derived Forms

dichotomous or dichotomic (ˌdaɪkəʊˈtɒmɪk), adjectivedichotomously, adverb

Word Origin for dichotomy

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

usage

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
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