n. pl. di·chot·o·mies
1. A division into two contrasting parts or categories: the dichotomy between rural and urban communities; regards the division between nature and nurture as a false dichotomy.
2. Astronomy The phase of the moon, Mercury, or Venus when half of the disk is illuminated.
3. Botany Branching characterized by successive forking into two approximately equal divisions.
[Greek dikhotomiā, from dikhotomos, divided in two : dikho-, dicho- + temnein, to cut; see tem- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.