\ ˈsi-zəm How to pronounce schism (audio) , ˈski- also ˈshi-; among clergy usually ˈsi- How to pronounce schism (audio) \

Definition of schism

1 : division, separation also : discord, disharmony a schism between political parties
2a : formal division in or separation from a church or religious body
b : the offense of promoting schism

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of schism in a Sentence

a schism between leading members of the party The church was divided by schism.
Recent Examples on the Web The government has yet to take further action, but the spat appears to confirm a schism within the country’s ruling elite. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, "Syrian President Bashar Assad faces rare dissent from a top financial ally, cousin Rami Makhlouf," 8 May 2020 The letters, which were first reported about by The Verge, underscore a deepening schism between Evers and the world’s largest electronics provider. Todd Richmond, Twin Cities, "Wisconsin governor: No tax credits for scaled-down Foxconn plant," 14 Dec. 2019 My colleague Ed Fitzpatrick dives into the schism between the moderate and liberal factions of the state Democratic Party., "Providence City Councilman Luis Aponte," 9 Oct. 2019 Hussein's killing has been attributed with cementing the schism between Shiite and Sunni Islam. Qassim Abdul-zahra And Zeina Karam,, "Officials: At least 31 Iraqi pilgrims die in stampede during holiday," 10 Sep. 2019 Democrats, who reunified in April after a seven-year schism involving eight breakaway members, who formed the Independent Democratic Conference, are hoping to win outright control of the Senate. Jesse Mckinley, New York Times, "State Senate Grinds to a Halt as Neither Party Can Make a Majority," 31 May 2018 Despite the schism that Brathwaite’s work helped expose, Brathwaite himself encouraged Caribbean writers to form communities and stay in touch. Gabrielle Bellot, The New York Review of Books, "Kamau Brathwaite and the Voice of the Caribbean," 27 Feb. 2020 Those kinds of schisms have plagued party conventions in years when a Republican incumbent went on to lose his reelection bid, Republican officials said., "The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates expressed collective support for sweeping new gun control measures Wednesday, appearing at a forum held in a city still grieving after a gunman massacred 58 concertgoers two years and one day ago, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.," 3 Oct. 2019 The American right of the 1990s was, like most successful and long-lived political parties, a broad church with any number of internal schisms. The Economist, "Conservatism is fighting for its life against reactionary nationalism," 4 July 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of schism

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for schism

Middle English scisme, from Anglo-French scisme, cisme, from Late Latin schismat-, schisma, from Greek, cleft, division, from schizein to split — more at shed entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about schism

Time Traveler for schism

Time Traveler

The first known use of schism was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for schism

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Schism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for schism


How to pronounce schism (audio) How to pronounce schism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of schism

formal : a division among the members of a group that occurs because they disagree on something

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on schism

What made you want to look up schism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!