schizo·​phre·​nia | \ ˌskit-sə-ˈfrē-nē-ə \

Definition of schizophrenia

1 medical : a mental disorder that is characterized by disturbances in thought (such as delusions), perception (such as hallucinations), and behavior (such as disorganized speech or catatonic behavior), by a loss of emotional responsiveness and extreme apathy, and by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life

called also dementia praecox

Note: Schizophrenia often involves an inability to orient oneself with reality, a withdrawal from social interactions, and a failure to integrate thoughts with emotions so that emotional expression is inappropriate. There are several subtypes of schizophrenia, including paranoid schizophrenia and those types marked by catatonia or hebephrenia.

2 : contradictory or antagonistic qualities or attitudes both parties … have exhibited schizophrenia over the desired outcome— Elizabeth Drew

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Other Words from schizophrenia

schizophrenic \ ˌskit-​sə-​ˈfre-​nik \ adjective or noun
schizophrenically \ ˌskit-​sə-​ˈfre-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of schizophrenia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Cannabis misuse by the young raises genuine concerns about links to schizophrenia. The Economist, "High and mighty," 21 June 2018 William Davis, of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, said in September that Moseley had been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia, The Baltimore Sun reported. Michael Kunzelman, The Seattle Times, "Girlfriend: Shooter prone to violence before deadly rampage," 28 Nov. 2018 Teri, who suffered from a metabolic disorder that resulted in brain damage and from schizophrenia that sometimes caused hallucinations, couldn’t read well and asked Jan for help. Gina Barton,, "Unsolved: Was Michelle Manders kidnapped or did she just wander off?," 13 Sep. 2017 Antipsychotics are often prescribed to people with schizophrenia. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "9 Things You Should Know About Taking Antipsychotic Drugs," 7 Dec. 2018 Serious mental illness, such as major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, affects one in 17 people in the U.S. WSJ, "Hospitals Lose With Medicaid Expansion," 6 Nov. 2018 Court records show Mackley told officers in Oregon he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and lives on disability payments of less than $1,000 a month. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Body of Oregon woman, 89, found in trunk of convicted sex offender's car," 28 Sep. 2018 And schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders often manifest themselves in adolescence. Emily Bazar, The Seattle Times, "Typical kid behavior or a mental-health problem? It can be hard to decide.," 13 Aug. 2018 For people with schizophrenia, avatars that embody a person's auditory hallucinations also show promise. Amy Ellis Nutt, Washington Post, "To Your Health newsletter," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'schizophrenia.' 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 schizophrenia

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for schizophrenia

New Latin

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Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for schizophrenia

The first known use of schizophrenia was in 1909

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More Definitions for schizophrenia


schizo·​phre·​nia | \ ˌskit-sə-ˈfrē-nē-ə \

Medical Definition of schizophrenia

: a mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as in delusions), perception (as in hallucinations), and behavior

called also dementia praecox

— see paranoid schizophrenia

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