Definition of dichotomous in US English:



  • 1Exhibiting or characterized by dichotomy.

    ‘a dichotomous view of the world’
    • ‘One way of avoiding this dichotomous thinking is to enable low-income mothers to make their own decisions about whether and when to work inside and outside the home.’
    • ‘When literacy and orality are not viewed within a dichotomous framework, then memory is no longer separate from literacy.’
    • ‘The forced-choice format is used with each item presented separately and each pole representing a dichotomous extreme for one attitude or function.’
    • ‘Grappling with ACTION's history helps make the case for why a dichotomous view of Civil Rights and Black Power obscures more than it illuminates.’
    • ‘Technically, the two sides of a coin present a dichotomous choice.’
    • ‘The media promotes this dichotomous view of the world.’
    • ‘In our either-or dichotomous system of logic, weakness is the opposite of strength.’
    • ‘Thus, communion and agency were generally viewed as dichotomous, limiting the possibility that both can be evident simultaneously within a given person.’
    • ‘The two alternatives, presented as dichotomous above, may be viewed as partly overlapping, and not mutually exclusive.’
    • ‘Teaching should not be viewed as dichotomous because these factors of effective teaching are intertwined in action.’
    • ‘The lion roaming in a field with Manhattan as a backdrop really captures the dichotomous feeling of the record.’
    • ‘The trends undermine a dichotomous view of British politics and society - a political dimension of left and right which correlates with two political parties and two social classes.’
    • ‘However, there are dangers in using these dichotomous terms.’
    • ‘This view emphasizes the dichotomous thinking and behavior often displayed by alcoholics.’
    • ‘My thinking on this curious dichotomous view of the Church (and the even more curious affinity it has with leftist dissent) can be found here.’
    • ‘The belief that bisexuality is just a phase is also pervasive, to the point where bisexuals are sometimes falsely encouraged to choose one of the dichotomous extremes of gay and straight.’
    • ‘And Ramon's character is dichotomous in a way never fully explored or explained.’
    • ‘Well, you see the problem is the assumption that these two types of society are dichotomous.’
    • ‘It's reflective of the dichotomous nature of American thinking.’
    • ‘Crewdson's work is replete with dichotomous tensions.’
    opposite, opposed, opposing, oppositional, diametrically opposed, extreme, contrary, contradictory, antithetical, antagonistic, conflicting, counterbalancing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Botany (of branching) in which the axis is divided into two branches.
      • ‘They produced several types of foliage all characterized by pinnate leaves with open dichotomous venation.’
      • ‘Most members of this lineage also have the combination of pseudomonopodially-branching main axes or rhizomes, with dichotomous branch tips.’
      • ‘Subsequent branch orders may be dichotomous or pseudomonopodial.’
      • ‘In addition to the taxonomic descriptions, dichotomous keys, illustrations and distribution maps are presented for each species.’
      • ‘In some species, variations and gradations between dichotomous and monopodial growth patterns occur.’


Late 17th century: via late Latin from Greek dikhotomos (from dikho- ‘in two’ + temnein ‘to cut’) + -ous.