Definition of duality in English:


nounPlural dualities

  • 1mass noun The quality or condition of being dual.

    ‘this duality of purpose was discernible in the appointments’
    • ‘It's a time of duality when decisions have to be taken.’
    • ‘It is impossible not to get lost in Watt's paradoxically neat tangle of ideas - whether it's her dialogue with Ingres or the almost alarming duality of photorealistic illusion and sheer physicality.’
    • ‘Hedwig is a figure of duality, spanning two sexes.’
    • ‘There is a precedent for this duality in leadership.’
    • ‘Sir, you are working on the premise of duality.’
    • ‘There's way too much duality built-in to such a scheme.’
    • ‘One is based on duality, on the perception of an inevitable separation between man and God or, not to be too theological, between man and reality.’
    • ‘He sparkled at us and talked of duality in our lives; children versus stardom, the scriptures versus the internet.’
    • ‘The implication of moving from limbo to salvation again emphasises the show's duality and the importance to so many of the idea that a country's borders might provide sanctuary.’
    • ‘All this is evident in the city's duality, characterised as ‘two cities in one’.’
    • ‘Just how Gilliam's duality came about is unclear, but he apparently mastered it early in life.’
    • ‘It is time we got out of a mindset that encourages duality of standards.’
    • ‘After the brief bit of prophecy, Watts homes in on the theme of duality that crops up in most of his books and speeches, a result of his understanding of Eastern religions.’
    • ‘There is an overriding theme to this mural, and that is one of duality.’
    • ‘To fit in with this, the play is full of twins as a metaphor for human duality: we can be this or that, depending on our choices.’
    • ‘All these nine characteristics have both weaknesses and strengths; out of duality of being, these unique natures can provide certain creative energies, motives, and world views.’
    • ‘Presumably it's meant to further illustrate the themes of duality and inner struggle, but the only effect is that of an irritating side-show.’
    • ‘But our poem's horizon expanded far beyond this confined duality to embrace the universal, the human, as well as the intimate and personal.’
    • ‘In this realm of duality, issues of culture, gender and history certainly cannot be wished away.’
    • ‘And this presents on screen the kind of duality of which Brecht was so fond on the stage.’
    1. 1.1Mathematics The property of two theorems, expressions, etc., of being dual to each other.
      • ‘These two dualities reduce the number of distinct theories from five to three.’
    2. 1.2Physics The quantum-mechanical property of being regardable as both a wave and a particle.
      • ‘He borrows this idea from quantum mechanics and the work of the physicist Niels Bohr on wave-particle duality.’
      • ‘This was the beginning of the idea known as particle-wave duality, and the field of quantum mechanics.’
      • ‘The doctoral thesis of Louis de Broglie was presented which extended the particle-wave duality for light to all particles, in particular to electrons.’
      • ‘Although not fully appreciated at the time, Einstein's work on the quantum nature of light was the first step towards establishing the wave-particle duality of quantum particles.’
      • ‘I think a scientific parallel might be drawn from the uncertainty principle in quantum physics, or perhaps from photon wave/particle duality.’
  • 2An instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism.

    ‘his photographs capitalize on the dualities of light and dark, stillness and movement’
    • ‘I hope Commonweal and Garvey will continue to provide nuanced comment and insight into these questions in a way that transcends the dualities too often brought to such issues.’
    • ‘That's what happens when you simplify learning into a left-brain/right-brain duality.’
    • ‘The nature of Hamsun's truth hinges upon these fascinating dualities.’
    • ‘Neither entirely human nor artificial, but a combination of the two, the cyborg problematizes all dualities and oppositions.’
    • ‘Tentatively, the young Dylan began to explore more complex dualities and - I will argue - dramatize more compelling quarrels with himself.’
    • ‘Such a response might help to get us past that frozen, defensive moment of offence which casts everything in black and white, into moral dualities of good and evil, progressive and reactionary.’
    • ‘Undeniably at home in that genre, Snyder's strikingly eccentric work ultimately returns us to the innate dualities that constitute both our individual and collective selves.’
    • ‘Carnival is symbolic of the national ethos because it plays to many of the dualities in Brazilian life: wealth and poverty, African and European, female and male.’
    • ‘This book has the clearest descriptions and explanations of the so-called wave-particle duality that I have read.’
    • ‘As with so many Chinese concepts, the ‘internal’ vs. ‘external’ distinction actually represents several dualities at once.’
    • ‘Muller believes each bronze sculpture reflects the dualities people find in themselves.’
    • ‘In the context of portraying dualities, the crow's mythological history is that it was once white and was changed to black by angry gods.’
    • ‘This is a film full of contradictions and dualities.’
    • ‘I think it's the pervasive presence of these dualities that makes a Bournonville ballet so much more interesting, and even modern, than classics like Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty.’
    • ‘A positive answer to the above question involves a reliance upon some kind of mind/body duality that can be easily challenged philosophically.’
    • ‘As a result, the dualities of realistic and imaginary, iconic and perspectival, sacred and secular, and copy and prototype begin to break down.’
    • ‘The entire movie is a collection of dualities, of opposites contrasting.’
    • ‘The stories revel in dualities that parody, skew and ultimately reinvent popular notions of glamour, sophistication, celebrity, sexuality and modernity.’
    • ‘These sculptures managed to encapsulate a whole range of dualities: culture/nature, male/female, soft/hard, animate/inanimate.’
    • ‘A strong leader must discriminate between right and wrong and all other dualities, and then form his judgment before taking action.’
    doubleness, dualism, duplexity, ambivalence
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from late Latin dualitas, from dualis (see dual).