scis·​sion | \ ˈsi-zhən How to pronounce scission (audio) \

Definition of scission

1 : a division or split in a group or union : schism
2 : an action or process of cutting, dividing, or splitting : the state of being cut, divided, or split

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scission

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Scission.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for scission


scis·​sion | \ ˈsizh-ən How to pronounce scission (audio) \

Medical Definition of scission

: 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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