Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 14, 2017 is:
bifurcate • \BYE-fer-kayt\ • verb
: to divide or cause to divide into two branches or parts
“If colleges don’t begin to also focus on middle-income families, they will end up with campuses bifurcated by income that don’t reflect the economic diversity of the United States.” — Jeffrey J. Selingo, The Washington Post, 15 May 2017
“In the late 14th century [secretary] meant a ‘person entrusted with secrets,’ a trusted counselor, with some letter-writing and note-taking duties. The word has since bifurcated to refer either to the kind of secretary who nowadays prefers to be known as an executive assistant, thank you, or the kind who heads an executive department of the federal government.” — Ruth Walker, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2017
Did you know?
Yogi Berra, the baseball great who was noted for his head-scratching quotes, is purported to have said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi’s advice might not offer much help when making tough decisions in life, but perhaps it will help you remember today’s word, bifurcate. A road that bifurcates splits in two like the one in Yogi’s adage. Other things can bifurcate as well, such as an organization that splits into two factions. Bifurcate derives from the Latin bifurcus, meaning “two-pronged,” a combination of the prefix bi- (“two”) and the noun furca (“fork”). Furca, as you can probably tell, gave us our word fork.