dichotomy

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Ancient Greek διχότομος (dikhotomos, equally divided, cut in half).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

dichotomy (plural dichotomies)

  1. A separation or division into two; a distinction that results in such a division.
    • 1989, Carole Pateman, 6: Feminist Critiques of the Public/Private Dichotomy, The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism, and Political Theory, page 118,
      The dichotomy between the private and the public is central to almost two centuries of feminist writing and political struggle; it is, ultimately, what the feminist movement is all about. Although some feminists treat the dichotomy as a universal, trans-historical and trans-cultural feature of human existence, feminist criticism is primarily directed at the separation and opposition between the public and private spheres in liberal theory and practice.
    • 2003, Thérèse Encrenaz et al., Storm Dunlop (translator), The Solar System [Système Solaire], page 232,
      The dichotomy between maria and highlands dominates lunar mineralogy.
    • 2005, S. P. Naidu, Public Administration: Concepts And Theories, page 55,
      Despite some contradictions found in the essay, its major emphasis is laid on the politics-administration dichotomy theory. It is largely devoted to the argument concerning the separability of politics and administration. The politics-administration dichotomy initiated by Wilson was later elaborated by Frank J. Goodnow in his work, “Politics and Administration” (1900).
    • 2008, N. Gregory Mankiw, Principles of Economics, 6th Edition, page 723,
      All of this previous analysis was based on two related ideas: the classical dichotomy and monetary neutrality. Recall that the classical dichotomy is the separation of variables into real variables (those that measure quantities or relative prices) and nominal variables (those measured in terms of money).
  2. Such a division involving apparently incompatible or opposite principles; a duality.
  3. (logic) The division of a class into two disjoint subclasses that are together comprehensive, as the division of man into white and not white.
    • 2011, Patrick J. Hurley, A Concise Introduction to Logic, page 162,
      But in the fallacy of false dichotomy, not only do the two alternatives fail to be jointly exhaustive, but they are not even likely. As a result, the disjunctive premise is false, or at least probably false.
    • 2011, Tomasz A. Gorarzd, Jacek Krzaczkowski, The Complexity of Problems Connected with Two-Element Algebras, Paweł M. Idziak, AndrzejWronski, Reports on Mathematical Logic: No. 46, page 92,
      One can ask if for any algebra the considered problem is always in P or NP-complete (P or coNP-complete)? For example, the problem of the satisfiability of a system of polynomial equations over a group G is in P if G is abelian and NP-complete otherwise ([7, 13]).
      One of the most widely known subclasses of NP which exhibits such a dichotomy, is the class of constraint satisfaction problems (CSP) on the set {0,1}, see [16]. Recently Bulatov proved the dichotomy for CSP on a three-element set [3].
  4. (biology, taxonomy) The division of a genus into two species; a division into two subordinate parts.
  5. (astronomy) A phase of the moon when it appears half lit and half dark, as at the quadratures.
    • 1854, Edward Greswell, Origines Kalendariæ Italicæ: Tables of the Roman Calendar, Volume 1, page 261,
      The Ides of Januarius indeed, the preceding month, must have fallen on March 1 at midnight, two days before the first dichotomy of the mean new moon of that month, March 3 at midnight.
  6. (biology) Successive division and subdivision; successive bifurcation, as of a stem of a plant or a vein of the body into two parts as it proceeds from its origin.
  7. (biology) A fork (bifurcation) in a stem or vein.
    • 1969, J. F. Rigby, Permian Sphenopsids from Antarctica, Geological Survey Professional Paper 613-F, page F-9,
      In one forked leaf there is a distinct vein dichotomy, and the leaf boundary commences 1.5 mm above the dichotomy.
    • 2010, V. Singh, P. C. Pande, D. K. Jain, Text Book Of Botany: Diversity Of Microbes And Cryptogams, 4th Edition, page 511,
      In most of the creeping species with dorsiventral stems (e.g., S. kraussiana, S. laevigata) roots arise at or close to the point of dichotomy; in species like S. rupestris and S. wallichii they arise at the point of dichotomy as well as other positions and in S. selaginoides and S. spinulosa they arise from knot like swellings present at the basal portion of the stem.

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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.