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 Google’s decision Wednesday to move away from individualized user tracking in its own ad operations means digital advertising could bifurcate, with a Google ecosystem that has one set of rules and the rest of the web following another. Patience Haggin, WSJ, "Google Crushed Many Digital Ad Rivals. But a Challenger Is Rising.," 4 Mar. 2021 What is needed, scientists said in interviews, is for the city or another entity to essentially bifurcate the current coronavirus testing process. Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, "New York City Barely Tests for Virus Variants. Can That Change?," 3 Feb. 2021 That episode taught many to bifurcate their CNN-watching and market-tracking brains. Justina Lee,, "Why Robinhood Day Traders Are Greedy When Wall Street Is Fearful," 15 June 2020 But the approach has only exacerbated capital outflows, bifurcated the market and widened bid-ask spreads, giving way to erratic price swings. Donal Griffin,, "BNP Paribas Halts New Turkish Lira Trades at Prime-Broker Unit," 24 May 2020 In August 2019, India also bifurcated the state into two union territories: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Riyaz Wani, Quartz India, "India’s new domicile law for Jammu & Kashmir is making residents anxious," 6 Apr. 2020 The world seemed to bifurcate into people who still had jobs (for now) and those who didn’t, with the former anxiously looking for ways to cover for the latter, who were now scrambling for new sources of income, any income. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Performing Artists and the Financial Fallout of the Coronavirus," 22 Mar. 2020 The government has abolished autonomy for and bifurcated the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir as well as passed a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Jeff Bezos’ Unhappy Passage to India," 23 Jan. 2020 After the Modi government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A in the state and bifurcated it into two union territories, several political leaders have been under house arrest and there are severe restrictions on civilian movement. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Modi told Indian-Americans “everything is fine” in India in nine languages. But is it?," 22 Sep. 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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The first known use of bifurcate was in 1615

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Cite this Entry

“Bifurcate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for bifurcate



English Language Learners Definition of bifurcate

formal : to divide into two parts


intransitive verb
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 bifurcate (audio) \ adjective
bifurcation \ ˌbī-​(ˌ)fər-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce bifurcate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on bifurcate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bifurcate

Britannica English: Translation of bifurcate for Arabic Speakers

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