Definition of schism in US English:



  • 1A split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.

    ‘the widening schism between Church leaders and politicians’
    mass noun ‘the persistence of this group could produce schism within society’
    • ‘Great schisms have developed on such issues as biotechnology, agriculture, services, and culture.’
    • ‘A further schism developed among those favoring the colony's existence.’
    • ‘A dangerous schism in the Russian party developed with the emergence of the view known as Economism.’
    • ‘However, other controversies appear to reflect some of the deeper schisms within psychology itself.’
    • ‘Obliged to adopt the remuneration norms from the West, the Churches abandoned in part their tradition of equality, and a new schism entered into ecclesiastical society between the rich and the less well off.’
    • ‘Coalition leadership within a single military organization easily can create schisms with the potential to tear a unit apart.’
    • ‘The author outlines both the commonalities that define science fiction fandom and the tensions and schisms within the community, focusing on participants in organized clubs, amateur publications, and conventions.’
    • ‘The group makes psychedelic music born of cabin fever rather than hallucinogenics, and in their solitude, they have crafted an album that fits snugly within the temporal schism dividing many of us.’
    • ‘Internal schism and instability led to Roman invasion and occupation.’
    • ‘His work deals with death, violence, the schism between society's ideals and behaviour - very metaphorical work.’
    • ‘Surely this must produce a deep schism in a sense between science and Buddhism from the very beginning?’
    • ‘For him to spurn the former first lady would be to cause a schism in the party.’
    • ‘Held under these conditions, the elections could only be expected to deepen such schisms.’
    • ‘Or the emotional schism caused by choosing between two parents?’
    • ‘Well, I'm afraid there's also a schism within the residential practice itself - between the custom architect and the production architect.’
    • ‘The debate was described by some as a generational schism within the profession.’
    • ‘The move threatens to create a schism in the Church, pitting modernisers against traditionalists.’
    • ‘Although he survived the motion, it caused a schism in the government and among coalition partners.’
    • ‘However, the stress she places on their emergence because of, not in spite of, a schism in the cultural industry ignores their colonized positions.’
    • ‘He entered federal parliament in 1928 and was defeated at the end of 1931 as the Australian Labor Party succumbed in NSW to a schism between the federal party and the supporters of J. T. Lang.’
    division, split, rift, breach, rupture, break, separation, severance, estrangement, alienation, detachment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The formal separation of a Church into two Churches or the secession of a group owing to doctrinal and other differences.
      See also Great Schism
      • ‘He also shows that it was prey to numerous schisms and heresies.’
      • ‘The assertion of Europe as a secular entity by the end of the seventeenth century helped to reduce the importance of serious schisms in Christendom.’
      • ‘The centralization of the Catholic Church following the schisms of the 14th century changed how builders and patrons approached the construction and layout of churches, monasteries, and chapels.’
      • ‘It is only in recent years that the dialogue between the two Churches to heal the schism has been effectively re-opened.’
      • ‘Over the centuries, schisms occurred in which the seceders switched allegiance to Rome, forming the Uniate churches.’
      • ‘At the parish level, the fear of schism ensured that the church remained a militant one, committed to the policies of Catholic reform first promulgated by the council of Trent.’
      • ‘And while successive popes soon fell into the era of the papal schism, and then into the Reformation and the fracturing of the western Church, the claims of Benedict were long maintained in somewhat more subtle and nuanced forms.’
      • ‘There was never a time when these schisms did not exist.’
      • ‘Several decades later, there was a great schism in the catholic church.’
      • ‘In the past, the Episcopal Church's loose theology has allowed liberal and conservative parishioners, priests, and bishops to avoid major schisms.’
      • ‘Such controversy, he told The Advocate, is no longer likely to lead to a church schism.’
      • ‘Since that time, with the exception of brief intervals, the Bulgarian Church has persisted in schism.’
      • ‘But the vote will drive many from the church and risks schism.’
      • ‘The differences in theology and attitude to social concerns were major factors in the schisms in 1932 and 1947, and the hemorrhage of members and funding has occurred ever since.’
      • ‘Europe was suffering under the Black Death, and the papal schism had brought political and theological upheaval.’
      • ‘The church would even suffer its first schism and be reduced from seventy-eight to sixty-six members.’
      withdrawal, break, breakaway, separation, severance, apostasy, leaving, quitting, split, splitting, disaffiliation, resignation, pulling out, dropping out, desertion, defection
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French scisme, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek skhisma ‘cleft’, from skhizein ‘to split’.