bi·​fur·​cate | \ˈbī-(ˌ)fər-ˌkāt, 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, -​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 game shouldn’t be bifurcated by pitchers batting. Christopher L. Gasper,, "The Lions in the Super Bowl, a .400 hitter in a season, and other sports dreams I’d like to see become reality," 14 July 2018 The danger for Republicans is that the political map this year is sharply bifurcated: the most competitive House and Senate contests are taking place in strikingly different parts of the country. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Forget Tax Cuts. Trump Wants to Rally the G.O.P. Base Over Immigration.," 18 June 2018 At the urging of dozens of speakers, Metro's directors eliminated an option that would have elevated the rail line through the eastern half of Little Tokyo, bifurcating the neighborhood. Laura J. Nelson,, "Metro narrows the options for a light-rail line from downtown L.A. to Artesia," 25 May 2018 The move by Democrats would bifurcate and weaken privacy protections online. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Phony Vote on ‘Net Neutrality’," 15 May 2018 Grant said the back-to-back controversies have helped highlight a generational, and geographic, divide that often bifurcates Boston’s black community. Janelle Nanos,, "Black Market in Roxbury feels growing pains," 30 Apr. 2018 The dried blood snaked across Nick Foligno's grill, bifurcating below his right eye and running down his puffy cheeks, even staining several mustache hairs dark red. Alex Prewitt,, "Despite Injuries and Penalties, Blue Jackets Prove Resilient in OT Win Against Capitals," 13 Apr. 2018 The election bifurcated time into the before and the after. Vogue, "Why I Haven’t Been on a Date Since Trump Was Elected," 14 Feb. 2018 Society is bifurcating into those who are part of the innovation economy (lords) and those who aren’t (serfs). Scott Galloway, Esquire, "Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine," 8 Feb. 2018

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

The first known use of bifurcate was in 1615

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English Language Learners Definition of bifurcate

: to divide into two parts


intransitive verb
bi·​fur·​cate | \ˈbī-(ˌ)fər-ˌkāt, bī-ˈfər- \
bifurcated; bifurcating

Medical Definition of bifurcate 

: to divide into two branches or parts

Other Words from bifurcate

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

More from Merriam-Webster on bifurcate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bifurcate

Britannica English: Translation of bifurcate for Arabic Speakers

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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