In programming the word "tristate" is used quite often to indicate an object with three possible states. A checkbox is a good example, it can be checked, unchecked or it can have no value yet.

I now have to describe two objects in the same context where the first has three states and the second only has two.

I considered using "duostate" for the latter, but google doesn't seem to know the word. And "dualstate" also seems to be incorrect.

So what word could I use to describe an object with two possible states?

Edit: To clarify, the first object has states called In Range, Extended Range and Out of Range and the second only has In Range and Out of Range. I'm trying to write a piece of documentation which describes functions that convert a digit (0, 1 or 2 in this case) to "In Range", "Extended Range" and "Out of Range". There are two functions, one converts the digit to a digital/duo/dual state and the other to the tristate. So, I'm trying to find the right word to describe the first function.

  • 2
    That word seems more related to States in the U.S., not as much to the state or form an object is in
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 10:43
  • 3
    Binary; toggle; perhaps even switch...
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 10:49
  • Ah, "binary state" could work, thank you
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 11:01
  • 1
    As an off-topic side note: "how do you call" is what you say in Dutch, Russian, or French, but in English it's "what do you call".
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 11:02
  • 1
    boolean is what unequivocally implies two states. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


Toggle is used of both objects with a representation (such as a checkbox that doesn't accept an indeterminate state, or a button with a "pressed" and "unpressed" state) and also of programming objects that wrap a boolean so as to represent such a binary state.

To describe the state itself, binary would be more appropriate.

Boolean is sometimes misused for this, because the binary state would tend to be dealt with as a Boolean value and in terms of computer science binary is very more often used in the sense of the binary number system. However, Boolean refers to truth values upon which one can do Boolean arithmetic, while one certainly can do Boolean arithmetic on binary states that is not a feature of the binary state itself.

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