sche·​ma | \ ˈskē-mə How to pronounce schema (audio) \
plural schemata\ ˈskē-​mə-​tə How to pronounce schemata (audio) \ also schemas

Definition of schema

1 : a diagrammatic presentation broadly : a structured framework or plan : outline
2 : a mental codification of experience that includes a particular organized way of perceiving cognitively and responding to a complex situation or set of stimuli

Examples of schema in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The cognitive work required by interest goes into building new schemas and knowledge–exactly the things needed to make sense of (and feel interest in) complex topics. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "What to do when you’re bored at work," 27 Aug. 2019 Plots reference realistic settings and events, all helping build a reader’s schema, or background knowledge, helping children better understand information across disciplines. Los Angeles Times, "The case for comic books," 16 Aug. 2019 If the idea is that life in occupied France was more complicated than a simple good-and-evil schema, then these people and their actions should be able to genuinely surprise you. Adrian Daub, The New Republic, "Hulu’s Das Boot Gets Lost at Sea," 19 June 2019 Under this schema the European Union, the United States, China, and potentially India are poles, but Japan and Russia would not qualify as distinct poles. K.n.c., The Economist, "Globalisation is dead and we need to invent a world order," 28 June 2019 Douthat came of age during the culture wars of the 1990s, and the culture-war schema pervades his work. Paul Elie, New York Times, "A Conservative Catholic Begs the Pope: Lead Us Not Into Temptation," 9 Apr. 2018 The above is merely a rough sketch of Murnane’s all-encompassing schema. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "Gerald Murnane’s Endless Island," 4 May 2018 Database schema had to be negotiated with in-house administrators; their designs might work well for low-volume, internal use but not for real-time, high-load situations. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "The Dot-Coms Were Better Than Facebook," 13 Apr. 2018 Because the formal byplay of the schema is of more interest to the creators than creating distinctive characters, the lovers never quite take on lives of their own, and Harder’s libretto has a generic quality. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, "CD Review: Nathaniel Stookey, ‘Zipperz’," 7 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'schema.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of schema

circa 1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for schema

Greek schēmat-, schēma

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Time Traveler for schema

Time Traveler

The first known use of schema was circa 1890

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Cite this Entry

“Schema.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for schema


sche·​ma | \ ˈskē-mə How to pronounce schema (audio) \
plural schemata\ -​mət-​ə How to pronounce schemata (audio) \ also schemas

Medical Definition of schema

1 : a nonconscious adjustment of the brain to the afferent impulses indicative of bodily posture that is a prerequisite of appropriate bodily movement and of spatial perception
2 : the organization of experience in the mind or brain that includes a particular organized way of perceiving cognitively and responding to a complex situation or set of stimuli

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More from Merriam-Webster on schema

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with schema

Nglish: Translation of schema for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of schema for Arabic Speakers

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