Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Dichotomy

dichotomy [dahy-kot-uh-mee ]
1. a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities, the process or practice of making such a division
2. the process or practice of making such a division
3. (astronomical) the phase of the moon, Mercury or Venus in which half its disk appears illuminated
4. (botanical) 1. bifurcation, especiallyrepeated bifurcation (as of a plant's stem)
   2. a system of branching in which the main axis forks repeatedly into two branches
   3. branching of an ancestral line into two equal diverging branches


The leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities, between one extreme and another. (Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win)

Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. (Pablo Picasso)


Late 16th century: via modern Latin from Greek dikhotomia, from dikho- 'in two, apart' + -tomia. (Oxford Dictionaries)

Dichotomy and False Dichotomy
The two most commonly used senses of dichotomy are easily (and often) confused. The older one refers to the division of something into two groups that often are mutually exclusive or contradictory (as in 'the dichotomy between good and evil'). Like trichotomy (meaning 'division into three parts'), this sense denotes separation into different elements, but it adds the connotation of oppositeness. The newer sense of dichotomy denotes a thing that appears to have contradictory qualities, such as a lemonade stand found in a war zone. Dichotomy is frequently found in the company of the word false; a false dichotomy is a kind of fallacy in which one is given only two choices when in fact other options are available. (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: d, greek, latin, noun, wordsmith: sallymn

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