Dual vs. duel

The adjective dual means (1) composed of two usually like or complementary parts, (2) double, or (3) having a double character or purpose. A duel is (1) a prearranged combat between two people, or (2) a struggle for domination between two individuals, groups, or ideas. The word also works as a verb, meaning to have a duel.

These homophones have different roots. Dual comes from the Latin duo (which has Indo-European roots), meaning two, while duel comes from the Medieval Latin duellum, meaning war. A duel usually involves two combatants, but this numerical correspondence is just coincidence.

Examples

But their dual losses on election day—Whitman by 12 percentage points and Fiorina by 9—have raised doubts about their future viability in politics, particularly in California. [LA Times]

Kentucky standout right-handed pitchers Jordan Cooper and Alex Meyer squared off in a pitching duel to complete the UK baseball fall practice season. [UK Athletics]

If that were the case, the Eagles would need to find a dual-threat receiver/returner who could come in and fill the void left by Jackson. [Bleacher Report]

Mr Osborne is a lethally effective political operator. I suspect that today marks the start of an intriguing political duel. [Telegraph]

Lin’s parents were born in Taiwan and retain dual citizenship in Taiwan and the United States. [New York Times]

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