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Note 296 – The words bifurcate, trifurcate and quadfurcate

English: A multi-volume Latin dictionary (Egid...

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A work colleague has kindly provided the idea for today’s post.  She came across the word bifurcate a couple of weeks ago which means to split one main body into two separate ones.  She then decided google trifurcate, with the logic that there must be a word that means splitting things up into something other than two parts.  She was right, trifurcate is to split of one main body into three.  Feeling intrigued, she went further and typed in furcate, but the only meanings that came up were to do with dentistry so feeling disappointed she stopped.

On further research myself I found that bifurcation is “the splitting of a main body into two parts” according to Wikipedia.  In law this relates to splitting issues into two parts.  It also applies to system switches, river forks and whole heap of other things. defines the verb bifurcate as “to divide or fork into two branches”.

The Free explains that bifurcate comes from the Latin word bifurcus (two-pronged) broken down into bi meaning ‘two’ and furca meaning ‘fork’.  Trifurcate “having three branches or forks” comes from the Latin trifurcus broken down into tri meaning ‘three’ and furca meaning ‘fork’.  The word furcate itself is “to divide into branches; fork”. also lists quadfurcate which is “to divide or fork into four channels or branches”.  And so it probably goes on…

A quick thank you to my work colleague for providing some of today’s blog.  Her research meant that I have spent less time on the computer this evening, which is great seeing as I have pulled a muscle in my back!

Until tomorrow…



About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


6 thoughts on “Note 296 – The words bifurcate, trifurcate and quadfurcate

  1. Wow…..I’d never even heard those words until now lol

    Gawd, sometimes I just feel soooo uneducated lol 😉


    Posted by Vikki (The View Outside) | February 21, 2012, 8:14 am
  2. Cool entry! I started googling, trying out the different prefixes, and “hexfurcate” turned out to actually be a word:

    “Optical fibers of different lengths, diameters or materials (such as glass) are also available, including bifurcated and hexfurcated fibers.”

    Posted by James Kelley | March 25, 2017, 3:50 pm


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