Binary Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Wondering what binary means? If so, you’re in the right place! Read on as we explore the meaning of binary, usage examples, and more.

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The word binary often refers to a number expressed in the base-2 numeral system — aka binary numeral system — which is simply a method of mathematical expression that uses only two symbols (typically “0” and “1”). But did you know that the term binary is also used to describe people who fall outside the categories of man and woman?

According to the LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD, someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female could be non-binary. Interested in learning more? Read on to get the scoop on binary. 

What Is the Definition of Binary?

Before diving in to give you the low down on all things binary, let’s first explore a few definitions, shall we? 

  • The Collings Dictionary says the binary system is used especially in computing and expresses numbers using only the two digits “0” and “1.”
  • According to the Britannica Dictionary, the technical term binary means relating to or consisting of two things or parts.  
  • The Cambridge Dictionary says binary can be defined as relating to or consisting of two things where everything is either one thing or the other. 

After reviewing the dictionary definitions listed above, we can conclude that binary means something close to double or dual. In other words, something that can be broken into two categories is binary

The easiest way to remember what binary means is if you know that bi- simply means two. “Black” and “white” are often set up as binary — as are “good” and “evil” as well as “light” and “dark.” 

Another example of binary that you likely see all the time is the female and male symbols on bathroom doors. A binary can also refer to a double star, which is simply two stars revolving around each other.

What Is the Origin of Binary?

The origin story behind our word of the day is a short one. In short, the English word binary traces back to late Latin binarius, with Latin bini meaning “two by two.”  

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Binary?

Now that you have a better understanding of what binary means, let’s take a look at a few synonyms and antonyms. In short, synonyms are phrases or words that have the same or nearly the same meaning, whereas an antonym has an opposite meaning.

Synonyms of binary:

  • Double
  • Binate
  • Dual
  • Paired
  • Twice
  • Two-spirit
  • Couple
  • Pair
  • Bilaterality
  • Duet
  • Team
  • Dichotomy
  • Duplicity
  • Duplex
  • Doubled

Antonyms of binary:

  • Unpaired
  • Non-binary
  • Lone
  • Singular
  • Single

How Can You Use Binary in a Sentence?

By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of what the word binary means, so let’s put your knowledge to the test! Practice using binary in a sentence until you feel comfortable making it a part of your everyday vocabulary. 

Still need some help? Not to worry — we’ve put together a few example sentences for you to review below:

Do you know how to write Omega in binary notation?

Some people say non-binary is the third gender, but what do you think?

I identify as binary and am a proud supporter of LGBT!

My sister identifies as binary while I identify as non-binary.

What Does It Mean When Someone Identifies As Non-Binary?

Most folks are either male or female — including most transgender people. But some individuals don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman.” 

For example, some people have a gender that is different than either male or female. Others may have a gender that blends elements of being both a man and a woman, and some people have a gender that changes over time. In other words, gender is fluid. 

With that in mind, those who don’t conform to societal norms often rely on various terms to describe themselves with nonbinary being one of the most common. 

Why Is the Phrase Non-Binary Used?

Many societies recognize just two genders: male and female. This outdated idea that there are only two genders is often referred to as “gender binary.” Why? 

Because as we’ve previously discussed, binary can be defined as “having two parts” — aka male and female. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense why “nonbinary” is commonly used to describe genders that don’t fall into the restrictive categories of male or female. 

Related Words You Should Know

Before we wrap up this article, we want to leave you with some extra help. To improve your overall understanding of the word binary in regard to gender, research each term that we’ve listed for you below. 

These related words are all likely to cross your path sooner or later as you continue your journey in understanding binary:

  • Pronouns
  • Gender identity
  • Gender fluid
  • Genderqueer
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Agender
  • Gender nonconforming
  • Cisgender
  • Intersex


Binary is a word that can be used in a number of ways and refers to many things. Some of the most common include the binary number system, a binary star, and nonbinary gender identities.

In conclusion, binary means made up of two parts or things. 


  1. Binary Definition | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. Binary Definition & Meaning | Britannica Dictionary
  3. Binary Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary