Dichotomy vs discrepancy

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Dichotomy and discrepancy are two words that are often confused. We will examine the difference between the definitions of dichotomy and discrepancy, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A dichotomy is a contrast or division between two things that are opposed to each other or are sharply different, a division of a class of something into subclasses that are mutually exclusive. Related words are dichotomous, dichotomic, dichotomously. The plural form is dichotomies. The word dichotomy is derived from the Greek word dichotomia which means a cutting in half.

A discrepancy is a difference between two things that ought to be similar or related, a surprising difference between two things which are supposed to correspond in some manner. The plural form is discrepancies. The word discrepancy is derived from the Latin word discrepantia, which means discordance. Remember, dichotomy describes two things that are sharply different, discrepancy describes two things that are different but should in fact be similar or related.


It’s the dichotomy that makes things interesting for us, albeit sometimes it’s hard to see why we have to take the bad along with the good. (The Chronicle Herald)

Like the name suggests, it is a complex where a man can see a woman only in dichotomies, the virgin or the slut. (The Daily News & Analysis)

The results are segmented under critical discrepancy types (employment, education, financial-related, address, and database) that examine the discrepancy breakdown by verticals, states, regions, industry, age, gender and the like. (The Economic Times)

Consisting of staff, board and community members, the Equity Committee has been charged with figuring out ways to balance both monetary and item donations from the public between North and Memorial high schools after reports show large disparities between them. (The Leader-Telegram)