bi·​fur·​cate | \ ˈbī-(ˌ)fər-ˌkāt How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) , bī-ˈfər- \
bifurcated; bifurcating

Definition of bifurcate

transitive verb

: to cause to divide into two branches or parts bifurcate a beam of light

intransitive verb

: to divide into two branches or parts The stream bifurcates into two narrow channels.

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Other Words from bifurcate

bifurcate \ (ˌ)bī-​ˈfər-​kət How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) , -​ˌkāt ; ˈbī-​(ˌ)fər-​ˌkāt \ adjective

Did You Know?

Yogi Berra, the baseball great who was noted for his head-scratching quotes, is purported to have said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Yogi’s advice might not offer much help when making tough decisions in life, but perhaps it will help you remember today’s word, bifurcate. A road that bifurcates splits in two like the one in Yogi’s adage. Other things can bifurcate as well, such as an organization that splits into two factions. Bifurcate derives from the Latin bifurcus, meaning "two-pronged," a combination of the prefix bi- ("two") and the noun furca ("fork"). Furca, as you can probably tell, gave us our word fork.

Examples of bifurcate in a Sentence

The stream bifurcated into two narrow winding channels. bifurcate a beam of light
Recent Examples on the Web The result suggests that trade is moving in a similar direction to tech, with the world bifurcating into separate zones as tensions between China and the U.S. force nations to take sides. David Fickling | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Asia’s Big Trade Pact Will Hurt the Global Economy," 5 Nov. 2019 The 200-year-old state officially bifurcates into two Indian union territories⁠—J&K and Ladakh—which will be administered from New Delhi. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "As Jammu & Kashmir loses its political status, here’s what the past 80 days have meant for it," 31 Oct. 2019 Only a couple of hours before her demise, Swaraj had tweeted thanking Modi for his government’s move to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and bifurcate the restive state. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Sushma Swaraj, India’s former foreign minister who reached out to people, has passed away," 7 Aug. 2019 One interesting thing to note is how the show has bifurcated itself in such a way that a small majority of the series regulars are now in Canada. Emily Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Handmaid’s Tale closes a messy season with a surprisingly satisfying finale," 14 Aug. 2019 The state has also been bifurcated into two federal territories. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "Internet, mobile blackout shuts down communication with Kashmir," 6 Aug. 2019 The city was also racially bifurcated between black and white, which left no place for someone of Latino descent. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "How Matthew Lopez Transformed “Howards End” Into an Epic Play About Gay Life," 2 Sep. 2019 Snyder in June granted a joint request to bifurcate the trial. Ashley Cullins, Billboard, "'Dark Horse' Jury Will Consider Myspace Views During Katy Perry Copyright Trial," 13 July 2019 Cannabis-legalization proposals thus bifurcate into intrastate-only policies and interstate ones. Ilya Shapiro, National Review, "Congress Needs to Settle the Looming Cannabis-Regulation Fight," 10 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bifurcate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bifurcate

1615, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for bifurcate

Medieval Latin bifurcatus, past participle of bifurcare, from Latin bifurcus two-pronged, from bi- + furca fork

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Time Traveler for bifurcate

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The first known use of bifurcate was in 1615

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Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Bifurcate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for bifurcate


How to pronounce bifurcate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bifurcate

formal : to divide into two parts
bi·​fur·​cate | \ ˈbī-(ˌ)fər-ˌkāt How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) , bī-ˈfər- How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) \
bifurcated; bifurcating

Medical Definition of bifurcate

: to divide into two branches or parts

Other Words from bifurcate

bifurcate \ (ˈ)bī-​ˈfər-​kət How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) , -​ˌkāt; ˈbī-​(ˌ)fər-​ˌkāt How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) \ or bifurcated \ -​ˌkāt-​əd How to pronounce bifurcated (audio) \ adjective
bifurcation \ ˌbī-​(ˌ)fər-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce bifurcation (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on bifurcate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bifurcate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bifurcate

Britannica English: Translation of bifurcate for Arabic Speakers

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very cautious or careful

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