Halving is the action of dividing something to two halves, i.e., they are assumed to be of equal sizes.

What is the word for the action of dividing something into two parts, that are not necessarily identical?

  • 2
    You can always use break; if that word has too much ambiguity for your liking, you can say break in two. However, it's worth pointing out that the best word may be context-dependent. That is, I wouldn't necessarily use the same word to describe the way I would "divide" a pizza as I would to describe the way a bone broke. I might say the bone snapped in two, but I pruned the branch, or I sliced a piece of pizza, or I bit the candy bar (which divides it into two parts: the part in your mouth, and the part left in your hand).
    – J.R.
    Oct 6, 2013 at 8:05
  • @J.R. I would say "halving" is less known than using "breaking/dividing into equal parts".
    – Mistu4u
    Oct 6, 2013 at 8:08
  • 3
    I think all native speakers know the word halving, but in many contexts it's simply not the right word.
    – user230
    Oct 6, 2013 at 8:17
  • @J.R.'s right on the money, I think. Erel, if you give us the context in which you're trying to use this, we should be able to give you a word appropriate for that context. If you want an all-encompassing term, I don't think there's a common one; we use different words for different actions.
    – WendiKidd
    Oct 6, 2013 at 16:14
  • @snailboat: I agree. Actually, offhand, I can't think of very many contexts where I would understand halve to mean "to divide into two halves"; it much more often means "to decrease by half".
    – ruakh
    Oct 6, 2013 at 22:17

5 Answers 5


One (somewhat archaic) option is

Cleave -- "to split or divide by or as if by a cutting blow, especially along a natural line of division, as the grain of wood." (Dictionary.com)

This doesn't explicitly create exactly two parts, but generally if you split something with a single blow, you'll only end up with two parts.

An common phrase that does explicitly specify the number of resulting parts is to split (something) in two


A lot of words are there. You yourself said Dividing.

consumer magazines can be divided into a number of categories.

There are also Separate, Split etc.

Separate the cake into two parts.

The river had split into two channels later in it's way.

None of these mean breaking into into equal parts.

  • Yes, but none of them mean breaking into two parts... I want to emphasize that there are two parts, but they are not necessarily equal. Oct 6, 2013 at 12:22
  • @ErelSegalHalevi , IMO you can divide something in any no of parts,.... 2 is just a number. You can divide something into 2 parts too. But it seems, you want the action to be specific to cutting into 2parts only (emphasizing 2); I would say then you are looking for something verbose.
    – Mistu4u
    Oct 6, 2013 at 12:27
  • 2
    you have to qualify it with "in two parts" as there is no such specific English word (to my knowledge) other than halve. So you cut, cleave, divide, separate, split, chop, saw, tear into, or rip into two parts. Surely there are other fractionalizing words too :)) Oct 7, 2013 at 2:16
  • @HowardPautz, I understood the OP's point. That's why I told he is looking for something superfluous, wordy, verbose, tedious.
    – Mistu4u
    Oct 7, 2013 at 5:35
  • @Mistu4u there are many English words that are specific to the number 2, for example "couple" (a group of 2), "half" (one of 2 equal parts), "both", etc. So, I thought there may be a word specific for dividing to two parts. Oct 9, 2013 at 5:04

To use an example that was used by Rowan Atkinson to great comedic effect in one of his religious miinsters sketches, I would suggest 'cleft in twain.'
It was an appropriation of Victorian-era Biblical English -meaning it likely dates from the 1700s or even earlier when the Bible was first printed/published. Seriously now, in most informal English we would say 'split' or 'divided'.



This is supposed to usually mean two equal parts, but not always.

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  • Are you asking or answering? Your answer would be improved with something to support bisect being used in the sense the question asks for .
    – ColleenV
    2 days ago

Bifurcate, splitting in two pieces.

  • 3
    Bifurcation refers mostly to forking or splitting a passageway; it's less relevant for chopping something up. May 5, 2015 at 19:33
  • 2
    The definition that I'm familiar with is to divide or split into two branches or channels that are still connected, not to split into two pieces. For example some reptiles have bifurcated , or forked, tongues. I don't think this fits the question.
    – ColleenV
    May 6, 2015 at 2:17

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