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Definition of Dichotomy

(noun) Two opposing parts; a distinct division.

Examples of Dichotomy

  • black/white
  • function/dysfunction
  • good/evil
  • male/female
  • object/subject

Dichotomy Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: di·chot·o·my

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /die-kAHt-uh-mee/
  • British English – /die-kOt-uh-mee/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /daɪˈkɑdəmi/
  • British English – /dʌɪˈkɒtəmi/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: dichotomies
  • Similarly, a trichotomy describes the same relationship into three parts and multichotomy describes it in three or more parts.
  • An idea is divided into two parts by (verb) dichotomizing through (noun) dichotomization, creating a (adjective) dichotomous or (adjective) dichotomic relationship.

Additional Information

Related Terms

Works Consulted

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

O’Leary, Zina. 2007. The Social Science Jargon Buster: The Key Terms You Need to Know. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Dichotomy

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “dichotomy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 18, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/dichotomy/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

dichotomy. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/dichotomy/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “dichotomy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/dichotomy/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“dichotomy.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 18 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/dichotomy/>.