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WORD OF THE DAY: BIFURCATE
verb | BYE-fer-kayt
What It Means
When something bifurcates, it divides into two branches or parts; to bifurcate something is to divide it into two branches or parts.
// The stream bifurcated into two narrow winding channels.
// When a highway bifurcates a forest, it also splits the habitats of animal populations that may have a difficult time making it across safely to the other side.
Examples of BIFURCATE
“Over time, the English … became more powerful, spreading from Virginia to Maryland to Carolina (not yet bifurcated) …” — Scott W. Stern, The New Republic, 26 June 2023
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.” Berra’s advice might not offer much help when you’re making tough decisions in life, but perhaps it will help you remember bifurcate. A road that bifurcates splits in two, like the one in Berra’s adage. Other things can bifurcate (or be bifurcated) as well, such as an organisation that splits, or is split, into two factions. Bifurcate comes from the Latin adjective bifurcus, meaning “two-pronged,” a combination of the prefix bi- (“two”) and the noun furca (“fork”). Furca, as you may have guessed, is also an ancestor of fork, which refers to the handy utensil that can (in a pinch) help us—as Berra might say—to cut our pizza in four pieces when we’re not hungry enough to eat six.