1. having two poles, as the earth.
  2. of, relating to, or found at both polar regions.
  3. characterized by opposite extremes, as two conflicting political philosophies.
  4. Electronics. of or relating to a transistor that uses both positive and negative charge carriers.
  5. Psychiatry. of, relating to, or having bipolar disorder: His wife is bipolar.


  1. having two polesa bipolar dynamo; a bipolar neuron
  2. relating to or found at the North and South Poles
  3. having or characterized by two opposed opinions, natures, etc
  4. (of a transistor) utilizing both majority and minority charge carriers
  5. suffering from bipolar manic-depressive disorder

also bi-polarity, 1834; see bi- + polarity.


“having two poles,” from bi- + polar; 1810 with figurative sense of “of double aspect;” 1859 with reference to physiology. Psychiatric use in reference to what had been called manic-depressive psychosis is said to have begun 1957 with German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard. The term became popular early 1990s. Bipolar disorder was in DSM III (1980).


  1. Having two poles; used especially of nerve cells in which the branches project from two usually opposite points.
  2. Of or relating to both ends or poles of a bacterial or other cell.
  3. Of or relating to a major mood disorder that is characterized by episodes of mania and depression.

  1. Relating to or having two poles or charges.
  2. Relating to a semiconductor device, such as a transistor, that exploits the electrical characteristics of contact between two substances, one with an inherent positive charge, the other with an inherent negative charge.
  3. Relating to or involving both of the Earth’s polar regions.
  4. Relating to a neuron that has two processes or extremities.
  5. Relating to bipolar disorder.

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