Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
September 22nd, 2015
Episode 327 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 22, 2015 is: binary \adjective\ BYE-nuh-ree 1 : consisting of two things or parts 2 : relating to, being, or belonging to a number system having 2 as its base 3 : involving a choice between or condition of two alternatives only (such as on-off or yes-no) Examples: Brass is a binary alloy, having the two metallic elements copper and zinc. "NASA's New Horizons is described as a mission to Pluto, but one of the reasons the dwarf planet is so fascinating to scientists is that it's part of the only known binary planet system in our solar system." Karen Kaplan, The Los Angeles Times, 15 July 2015 Did you know? As the old children's song goes, "The animals went in two by two, the elephant and the kangaroo." It was a binary parade of sorts that went into Noah's ark "for to get out of the rain"the critters were represented in pairs. If you recall those doubled up beasts, you'll remember the etymology of binary because it traces to the Latin bini, which translates as "two by two." Although binary can be used for anything with two parts, it is now used especially in relation to computers and information processing. Digital computers use the binary number system, which includes only the digits 0 and 1, to process even complex data. In binary form, for instance, the word HELLO looks like this: 01001000 01000101 01001100 01001100 01001111.