Definition of duality in English:



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

    ‘this duality of purpose was discernible in the appointments’
    • ‘There is a precedent for this duality in leadership.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 this is evident in the city's duality, characterised as ‘two cities in one’.’
    • ‘And this presents on screen the kind of duality of which Brecht was so fond on the stage.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He sparkled at us and talked of duality in our lives; children versus stardom, the scriptures versus the internet.’
    • ‘But our poem's horizon expanded far beyond this confined duality to embrace the universal, the human, as well as the intimate and personal.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is time we got out of a mindset that encourages duality of standards.’
    • ‘In this realm of duality, issues of culture, gender and history certainly cannot be wished away.’
    • ‘There is an overriding theme to this mural, and that is one of duality.’
    • ‘Sir, you are working on the premise of duality.’
    • ‘Hedwig is a figure of duality, spanning two sexes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's a time of duality when decisions have to be taken.’
    • ‘Just how Gilliam's duality came about is unclear, but he apparently mastered it early in life.’
    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.
      • ‘This was the beginning of the idea known as particle-wave duality, and the field of quantum mechanics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He borrows this idea from quantum mechanics and the work of the physicist Niels Bohr on wave-particle duality.’
      • ‘The doctoral thesis of Louis de Broglie was presented which extended the particle-wave duality for light to all particles, in particular to electrons.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘As a result, the dualities of realistic and imaginary, iconic and perspectival, sacred and secular, and copy and prototype begin to break down.’
    • ‘Muller believes each bronze sculpture reflects the dualities people find in themselves.’
    • ‘Neither entirely human nor artificial, but a combination of the two, the cyborg problematizes all dualities and oppositions.’
    • ‘The nature of Hamsun's truth hinges upon these fascinating dualities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As with so many Chinese concepts, the ‘internal’ vs. ‘external’ distinction actually represents several dualities at once.’
    • ‘That's what happens when you simplify learning into a left-brain/right-brain duality.’
    • ‘The entire movie is a collection of dualities, of opposites contrasting.’
    • ‘A strong leader must discriminate between right and wrong and all other dualities, and then form his judgment before taking action.’
    • ‘Tentatively, the young Dylan began to explore more complex dualities and - I will argue - dramatize more compelling quarrels with himself.’
    • ‘This is a film full of contradictions and dualities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A positive answer to the above question involves a reliance upon some kind of mind/body duality that can be easily challenged philosophically.’
    • ‘This book has the clearest descriptions and explanations of the so-called wave-particle duality that I have read.’
    • ‘The stories revel in dualities that parody, skew and ultimately reinvent popular notions of glamour, sophistication, celebrity, sexuality and modernity.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These sculptures managed to encapsulate a whole range of dualities: culture/nature, male/female, soft/hard, animate/inanimate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    doubleness, dualism, duplexity, ambivalence
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Late Middle English: from late Latin dualitas, from dualis (see dual).