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[siz-uh m, skiz-] /ˈsɪz əm, ˈskɪz-/
division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties.
the parties so formed.
  1. a formal division within, or separation from, a church or religious body over some doctrinal difference.
  2. the state of a sect or body formed by such division.
  3. the offense of causing or seeking to cause such a division.
Origin of schism
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
Related forms
schismless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for schisms
  • In it he observes that the devil sows heresy and schisms in order to subvert souls which have escaped the snares of idolatry.
  • Shun schisms and all discord, as the source of evils.
  • But in truth he could probably have pointed to any number of irreconcilable schisms with his former party.
  • It had no territorial ambitions to satisfy, and no ethnic schisms to resolve.
  • They fear the schisms and divisions that elections could open up in their own ranks.
  • Doctrinal schisms have produced huge amounts of misery as subsects of various religions have been pitted against each other.
  • These schisms widened during the years of exile as leaders blamed each other for the failure of the protests.
  • Ultimately, religious schisms often boil down to the question of who's in charge.
British Dictionary definitions for schisms


/ˈskɪzəm; ˈsɪz-/
the division of a group into opposing factions
the factions so formed
division within or separation from an established Church, esp the Roman Catholic Church, not necessarily involving differences in doctrine
Word Origin
C14: from Church Latin schisma, from Greek skhisma a cleft, from skhizein to split
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for schisms



late 14c., scisme, "dissention within the church," from Old French scisme, cisme "a cleft, split" (12c.), from Church Latin schisma, from Greek skhisma (genitive skhismatos) "division, cleft," in New Testament applied metaphorically to divisions in the Church (e.g. I Cor. xii.25), 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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schisms in Culture
schism [(siz-uhm, skiz-uhm)]

A break within a church, such as the division between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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schisms in the Bible

a separation, an alienation causing divisions among Christians, who ought to be united (1 Cor. 12:25).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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