scis·​sion ˈsi-zhən How to pronounce scission (audio)
: a division or split in a group or union : schism
: an action or process of cutting, dividing, or splitting : the state of being cut, divided, or split

Did you know?

You may suspect that a connection exists between "scission" and "scissors," but, actually, their etymologies are sharply divided. "Scission" traces to the Latin verb scindere ("to split" or "to cut"). "Scissors," on the other hand, comes from an entirely separate Latin verb that also means "to cut" - "caedere." The Middle English word for the cutting instrument was "cisours" or "sisoures," which comes from Middle French cisoires. An "sc" spelling appeared only in the 16th century when, apparently, the word for the cutting instrument was mistakenly taken to have derived, like "scission," from "scindere."

Examples of scission in a Sentence

fears that the scission of the labor union will compromise the workers' bargaining power
Recent Examples on the Web The second major structural change involves one of the hallmarks of SARS-CoV-2 as compared to SARS-CoV-1: initial scission at the S1 furin cleavage site. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 6 May 2022 When the nucleus ultimately disintegrates, these pieces move apart rapidly and the neck snaps quickly, a process known as scission. Charles Q. Choi, Scientific American, 24 Feb. 2021 Wilson cautions more work is needed to explain how exactly spin results after scission. Charles Q. Choi, Scientific American, 24 Feb. 2021 The structure is easily broken down in a reaction called scission (like scissors), which tears up the polymer chain. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 5 Aug. 2020 Using IVs that are sanitized between trees, park service workers make a minimally invasive scission in order to treat the tree, according to Jason Gillis, park arborist for National Mall and Memorial Parks. Paulina Smolinski, USA TODAY, 19 Aug. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scission.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


early Scots scissione, borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French cision, scission "act of cutting, slit, cut," borrowed from Late Latin scissiōn-, scissiō "tearing apart, division" (Medieval Latin, "dissent, schism"), from Latin *scid-, base of scindere "to split, cleave, separate" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at shed entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of scission was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near scission

Cite this Entry

“Scission.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


scis·​sion ˈsizh-ən How to pronounce scission (audio)
: an action or process of cutting, dividing, or splitting : the state of being cut, divided, or split
single strand scissions in DNA
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