1. pertaining to, involving, or affecting two or both sides, factions, parties, or the like: a bilateral agreement; bilateral sponsorship.
  2. located on opposite sides of an axis; two-sided, especially when of equal size, value, etc.
  3. Biology. pertaining to the right and left sides of a structure, plane, etc.
  4. Chiefly Law. (of a contract) binding the parties to reciprocal obligations.
  5. through both parents equally: bilateral affiliation.Compare unilateral(def 7).


  1. Informal. a bilateral agreement, especially regarding international trade.


  1. having or involving two sides
  2. affecting or undertaken by two parties; mutuala bilateral treaty
  3. denoting or relating to bilateral symmetry
  4. having identical sides or parts on each side of an axis; symmetrical
  5. sociol relating to descent through both maternal and paternal lineageCompare unilateral (def. 5)
  6. British relating to an education that combines academic and technical courses
  7. a bilateral meeting

1852, from bilateral + -ism.


“having two sides,” 1775, from bi- + lateral. Related: Bilaterally.


  1. Having or formed of two sides; two-sided.
  2. Having or marked by bilateral symmetry.

Trade dealings between two countries.

Trade or diplomatic relations between two countries. (See diplomacy and recognition; compare multilateralism and unilateralism.)

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