- division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties.
- the parties so formed.
- a formal division within, or separation from, a church or religious body over some doctrinal difference.
- the state of a sect or body formed by such division.
- the offense of causing or seeking to cause such a division.
- the division of a group into opposing factions
- the factions so formed
- division within or separation from an established Church, esp the Roman Catholic Church, not necessarily involving differences in doctrine
n.late 14c., scisme, “dissention within the church,” from Old French scisme, cisme “a cleft, split” (12c.), from Church Latin schisma, from Greek skhisma (genitive skhismatos) “division, cleft,” in New Testament applied metaphorically to divisions in the Church (e.g. I Cor. xii.25), from stem of skhizein “to split” (see shed (v.)). Spelling restored 16c., but pronunciation unchanged. Often in reference to the Great Schism (1378-1417) in the Western Church. A break within a church, such as the division between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.