from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A separation or division into factions.
  • n. A formal breach of union within a Christian church.
  • n. The offense of attempting to produce such a breach.
  • n. Disunion; discord.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A split or separation within a group or organization, typically caused by discord.
  • n. A formal division or split within a religious body.
  • n. a split within Christianity whereby a group no longer recognizes the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church, but shares essentially the same beliefs with the Church of Rome. In other words, a political split without the introduction of heresy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Division or separation

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Division or separation; specifically, in ecclesiastical usage, a formal separation within or from an existing church or religious body, on account of some difference of opinion with regard to matters of faith or discipline.
  • n. The offense of seeking to produce a division in a church.
  • n. A schismatic body.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the formal separation of a church into two churches or the withdrawal of one group over doctrinal differences
  • n. division of a group into opposing factions


Middle English scisme, from Old French, from Latin schisma, schismat-, from Greek skhisma, from skhizein, to split; see skei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French cisme or scisme, from Ancient Greek σχίσμα (skhisma, "division"), from σχίζω (skhizō, "I split"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Sc-H-I-Sm (scandium, hydrogen, iodine, samarium).

    February 3, 2013

  • Schism is also a verb meaning to separate schismatically (Oxford English Dictionary).

    August 14, 2011