Dichotomy vs paradox

Dichotomy and paradox are two terms that are often confused but have different meanings. We will look at the meanings of dichotomy and paradox, where the terms 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 paradox is an assertion or statement that on the face of it seems contradictory, but on further examination turns out to be true. A paradox often seems to be outrageous or unbelievable, but is in fact true. For instance, the paradox of Schrödinger’s Cat features a cat that is both dead and alive until an observation of the cat is made. Related words are paradoxical and paradoxically. The plural form is paradoxes. The word paradox is derived from the Middle French word paradoxe.


Certainly the biggest face-off of “music’s biggest night” — Adele’s five nominations versus Beyoncé’s nine — seemed to neatly frame this dichotomy between pop’s deep stakes in the personal and its crucial role in the political: That is, the Adele of “Hello” longs to apologize, while the Beyoncé of “Lemonade” came to slay. (The Boston Globe)

The protein volume paradox dates back to the first X-ray structures of proteins, when images showed that 30 percent of the volume of a protein is comprised of voids and cavities inside the imperfectly packed atoms of the structure. (Science Daily)

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