Definition of binary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbʌɪnəri/


1Relating to, composed of, or involving two things.
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.
2Relating to, using, or denoting 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.

noun (plural binaries)

1 [mass noun] The binary system of 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

Line breaks: bin¦ary

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