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[dahy-kot-uh-mee] /daɪˈkɒt ə mi/
noun, plural dichotomies.
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
1600-10; < Greek dichotomía. See dicho-, -tomy
Related forms
[dahy-kuh-tom-ik] /ˌdaɪ kəˈtɒm ɪk/ (Show IPA),
dichotomically, adverb
subdichotomy, noun, plural subdichotomies. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dichotomies
  • Someone who doesn't boil everything down to absolutes, false dichotomies, and an us-vs-them mentality.
  • One cause of perceived inconsistency is our penchant for sharp dichotomies framed by stark labels.
  • There are all kinds of false dichotomies in the body politic.
  • Neuroscience has been in the same realm of false dichotomies and bone headed materialism for decades now.
  • Yet she did not seem to experience these dichotomies as contradictions.
  • Your thinking here is riddled with false dichotomies.
  • Remember in all this, that gender is only one of the more obvious dichotomies that can be made in a human population.
  • One of the dichotomies she's resisted is the boundary between art and science.
  • Discrete scores were then converted to continuous dichotomies.
  • Enduring dichotomies during preparation include whether to emphasize practical skills or societal understandings.
British Dictionary definitions for dichotomies


noun (pl) -mies
division into two parts or classifications, esp when they are sharply distinguished or opposed: the dichotomy between eastern and western cultures
(logic) the division of a class into two mutually exclusive subclasses: the 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, dichotomic (ˌdaɪkəʊˈtɒmɪk) adjective
dichotomously, adverb
Usage note
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
Word Origin
C17: from Greek dichotomia; see dicho-, -tomy
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
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Word Origin and History for dichotomies



c.1600, from Greek dichotomia "a cutting in half," from dicha "in two, asunder" (related to dis "twice") + temnein "to cut" (see tome).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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