[ doo-uh-liz-uhm, dyoo- ]
See synonyms for dualism on Thesaurus.com
  1. the state of being dual or consisting of two parts; division into two.

  2. Philosophy.

    • the view that there are just two mutually irreducible substances.: Compare monism, pluralism.

    • the view that substances are either material or mental.

  1. Theology.

    • the doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil.

    • the belief that a human being embodies two parts, as body and soul.

Origin of dualism

First recorded in 1785–95; dual + -ism

Other words from dualism

  • du·al·ist, noun, adjective
  • non·du·al·ism, noun

Words Nearby dualism

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

How to use dualism in a sentence

  • Its peculiar feature was dualism,--two original uncreated principles; one good, the other evil.

  • The vast amount of evidence in the taboos of many peoples of dualism in the attitude toward woman.

    Taboo and Genetics | Melvin Moses Knight, Iva Lowther Peters, and Phyllis Mary Blanchard
  • The dualism is not primarily as to the stuff of the world, but as to causal laws.

    The Analysis of Mind | Bertrand Russell
  • To return to Bahya's arguments in favor of the unity of God, we proceed to show that dualism would lead to absurd conclusions.

  • The one is anthropological dualism, regarding the soul as a distinct entity which comes to the body from without.

British Dictionary definitions for dualism


/ (ˈdjuːəˌlɪzəm) /

  1. the state of being twofold or double

  2. philosophy the doctrine, as opposed to idealism and materialism, that reality consists of two basic types of substance usually taken to be mind and matter or two basic types of entity, mental and physical: Compare monism

    • the theory that the universe has been ruled from its origins by two conflicting powers, one good and one evil, both existing as equally ultimate first causes

    • the theory that there are two personalities, one human and one divine, in Christ

Derived forms of dualism

  • dualist, noun
  • dualistic, adjective
  • dualistically, 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

Cultural definitions for dualism


In philosophy and theology, any system that explains phenomena by two opposing principles. Many philosophers hold to a dualism of mind and matter, or mind and body. For many theologians, the two principles are those of good and evil.

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.