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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

Examples from the Web for schemata

Historical Examples

  • Images are always particular; schemata are always universal.

    A Commentary to Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason'

    Norman Kemp Smith

  • This is borne out by the list of the schemata of the categories.

    Kant's Theory of Knowledge

    Harold Arthur Prichard

  • He has, therefore, been less bound by schemata than I have in the discussion.

    The Value of Money

    Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr.

  • In truth, it is not images of objects, but schemata, which lie at the foundation of our pure sensuous conceptions.

  • The conditions thus established will be found to correspond to the schemata shown in Figs. 114 and 115.

British Dictionary definitions for schemata


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 schemata



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

schemata 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.