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I am writing a paper about a geometric algorithm where one of the main operations is dividing a rectangles to two smaller rectangles. It is important that there are two pieces, and that the pieces don't have to be equal. I am looking for a single verb that I can use in this context.

There are many English words that are specific to the number 2, for example "couple" (a group of 2), "half" (one of 2 equal parts), "both", etc. So, I thought there may be a word specific for dividing to two parts

I thought of bisecting, but according to Meriam-Webster it means "two equal parts".

Bipartite seems like a good candidate, but according to Meriam-Webster it is an adjective, and I need a verb.

I asked in ell and got many answers (splitting, cleaving, dividing, separating, breaking), but none of these imply that there are exactly 2 pieces.

EDIT: In the future I may change the algorithm to cut into 3 parts, so, it could be good to have a verb that can be naturally modified to indicate 3 parts.

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  • As the context is geometric algorithms, try Mathematics
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 10:46

4 Answers 4

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Dichotomize means to specifically divide into two parts, with no inference about relative size of sub-groups. It has wide usage, especially in statistics and maths. There is a famous paradox, called the dichotomy paradox, which is pictorially described by drawing a rectangle and dividing it in two repeatedly.

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    Good point. v. dichotomize thefreedictionary.com/dichotomize However, in general English, the more common implication is a difference of character/ classification, not parts of the same kind.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 10:52
  • This also looks like a good option. There is also "trichotomize" which means dividing to three parts (if ever I need to change my algorithm from 2 to 3 parts) Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:39
  • What is the original meaning of "chotomize"? Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:45
  • Dichotomy comes from the Greek dicha (meaning two) and temnein (to cut)
    – long
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 19:42
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Bifurcation may be one possible answer. To divide into two.

But it has two meanings, it may be two parts or Y shaped.

Refer Bifurcation

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  • Rather, bifurcate, as the OP needs a verb. And no, not two meanings -- it just means to divide into two (at a particular point) -- the result can be two separate pieces or two branches still connected at the point of bifurcation ('Y'-shaped).
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 10:37
  • @Kris: Ok. According to the context, bifurcate may not be the word you are looking for. But, its a nice word though :D
    – uma
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 11:26
  • Thanks, this looks like a good option. The "bi" prefix emphasizes that there are two parts. And there is an additional benefit: if I ever need to change my algorithm to cut into three parts, I can use "trifurcate": thefreedictionary.com/trifurcate Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:36
  • Yes, but I rejected bifurcate in my search because bifurcate is about a single flow branching into two separate streams. A single trunk splitting into two branches or a river splitting into to streams. Objects that are bifurcated form a Y. It's not about cutting one object into two separate objects.
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:39
  • @Jim now that I think of it, probably the "furc" syllable means something like "fork", so "bifurcate" is literally: create two forks/branches. Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:43
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Pick the word that sounds best for you and add a disclaimer which explains its meaning in the context of your paper. Most of the terms we use today are born that way.

The word doesn't have to be made up. Many science terms also have (different) everyday meanings.

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    What, like hemidisecticate?
    – long
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 11:18
  • The word doesn't have to be made up. Many science terms also have (different) everyday meanings.
    – Jencel
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 11:30
  • @long hemidisecticate has one great advantage: it currently has no results in Google, so if I use it, my paper may have the privilege of being the only result for this word (except this StackExchange page, of course) Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 13:25
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It's marked obscure, but there is:

discide : to divide; to cleave in two

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    Wiktionary, on the other hand, says “(obsolete) To cut apart; to cut into pieces” which doesn't limit the number of pieces to two. Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 7:02
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    yep, take it or leave it
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 7:03

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