Definition of binary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbīnərē/
Pronunciation: /ˈbīˌnərē/


1Relating to, using, or expressed in a system of numerical notation that has 2 rather than 10 as a base.
Example sentences
  • Electronic computers are today machines based on binary arithmetic but this was not so for the ENIAC computer.
  • His favourite topics in number theory included binary quadratic forms, quadratic residues, Gauss sums and Fermat quotients.
  • I'll try to explain why this is so: like any number we can, theoretically at least, write Omega in binary notation, as a string of 0s and 1s.
2Relating to, composed of, or involving two things: testing the so-called binary, or dual-chemical, weapons
More example sentences
  • By detecting how far apart the partners are and how rapidly they orbit each other, scientists can determine the mass, volume, and composition of the binary asteroids.
  • To avoid the binary thinking that collapses complexity, it is necessary to assess both similarities and differences while watchful for the excesses of either prejudice.
  • In the inorganic world, combustion can work the other way around, providing the energy to drive redox reactions and to form complex oxides from binary components.

noun (plural binaries)

1The binary system: binary notation: the device is counting in binary
More example sentences
  • What are the rules for converting fractions to binary and octal and vice versa?
  • If we had written the number as a decimal or even in binary then it looks a pretty nondescript number.
  • I saw the behavior of this termite for over a month before I finally realized what it was doing - counting in binary.
2Something having two parts.
Example sentences
  • This is to deconstruct the binary of time/space, where they collapse to form a moving present, it is ‘space that it is lived and is transformed by imagination’.
  • Abe Burmeister says ‘the act of creating a binary is also an act of exclusion.’
  • Painter and publican Chris Roddy offers this transcendent perspective, due presumably to the amount of time he has spent on either side of the binary.
2.1A binary star.
Example sentences
  • They deliberately bypassed many non-yellow suns (cepheid variables, close binaries and multiples, giants and dwarfs) until they reached the very next yellow sun.
  • Widely separated binaries, such as visual binary stars, may have formed by tidal capture.
  • It was not until 1802 that Herschel agreed that binaries existed and could be distinguished telescopically.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'duality, a pair'): from late Latin binarius, from bini 'two together'.

Words that rhyme with binary

finery, pinery, quinary, vinery, winery

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bi·na·ry

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