1350-1400; < Late Latin (Vulgate) sc(h)isma (stem sc(h)ismat-) < Greek, derivative of schízein to split, with -ma (stem -mat-) noun suffix of result; replacing Middle English (s)cisme, sisme < Middle French < Late Latin, as above
late 14c., scisme, "dissention within the church," from O.Fr. cisme "a cleft, split," from L.L. schisma, from Gk. skhisma (gen. skhismatos) "division, cleft," from stem of skhizein "to split" (see shed (v.)). Spelling restored 16c., but pronunciation unchanged. Often in reference to the Great Schism (1378-1417) in the Western Church. Related: Schismatic (n.; late 14c.).