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See more synonyms for schema on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural sche·ma·ta [skee-muh-tuh or, sometimes, skee-mah-tuh, ski-] /ˈski mə tə or, sometimes, skiˈmɑ tə, skɪ-/, sche·mas.
  1. a diagram, plan, or scheme.
  2. an underlying organizational pattern or structure; conceptual framework: A schema provides the basis by which someone relates to the events he or she experiences.
  3. (in Kantian epistemology) a concept, similar to a universal but limited to phenomenal knowledge, by which an object of knowledge or an idea of pure reason may be apprehended.
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Origin of schema

First recorded in 1790–1800, schema is from the Greek word schêma form
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for schema

Historical Examples

  • The schema is, in itself, always a mere product of the imagination.

    The Critique of Pure Reason

    Immanuel Kant

  • The schema of necessity is the existence of an object in all time.

  • Number is strictly not the schema of quantity as such, but of totality.

  • Now we must assume that the schema of quantity is really what Kant says it is, viz.

    Kant's Theory of Knowledge

    Harold Arthur Prichard

  • The turn of expression is called a Trope, and change of construction is called a Schema.

British Dictionary definitions for schema


noun plural -mata (-mətə)
  1. a plan, diagram, or scheme
  2. (in the philosophy of Kant) a rule or principle that enables the understanding to apply its categories and unify experienceuniversal succession is the schema of causality
  3. psychol a mental model of aspects of the world or of the self that is structured in such a way as to facilitate the processes of cognition and perception
  4. logic an expression using metavariables that may be replaced by object language expressions to yield a well-formed formula. Thus A = A is an axiom schema for identity, representing the infinite number of axioms, x = x, y = y, z = z, etc
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Word Origin

C19: from Greek: form
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for schema


plural schemata, 1796, in Kantian philosophy ("a product of the imagination intermediary between an image and a concept"), from Greek skhema (see scheme (n.)). Meaning "diagrammatic representation" is from 1890; general sense of "hypothetical outline" is by 1939.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

schema in Medicine


n. pl. sche•mas
  1. A diagrammatic representation; an outline or a model.
  2. A pattern imposed on complex reality or experience to assist in explaining it, mediate perception, or guide response.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.