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See more synonyms for scheme on Thesaurus.com
  1. a plan, design, or program of action to be followed; project.
  2. an underhand plot; intrigue.
  3. a visionary or impractical project.
  4. a body or system of related doctrines, theories, etc.: a scheme of philosophy.
  5. any system of correlated things, parts, etc., or the manner of its arrangement.
  6. a plan, program, or policy officially adopted and followed, as by a government or business: The company's pension scheme is very successful.
  7. an analytical or tabular statement.
  8. a diagram, map, or the like.
  9. an astrological diagram of the heavens.
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verb (used with object), schemed, schem·ing.
  1. to devise as a scheme; plan; plot; contrive.
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verb (used without object), schemed, schem·ing.
  1. to lay schemes; devise plans; plot.
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Origin of scheme

1545–55; < Medieval Latin schēma (stem schēmat-) < Greek schêma form, figure
Related formsscheme·less, adjectiveschem·er, nounout·scheme, verb (used with object), out·schemed, out·schem·ing.sub·scheme, nounun·der·scheme, nounun·schemed, adjective

Synonyms for scheme

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Synonym study

1, 6. See plan. 10. See plot.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for schemer

rogue, rascal, deceiver, scammer

Examples from the Web for schemer

Contemporary Examples of schemer

Historical Examples of schemer

British Dictionary definitions for schemer


  1. a systematic plan for a course of action
  2. a systematic arrangement of correlated parts; system
  3. a secret plot
  4. a visionary or unrealizable project
  5. a chart, diagram, or outline
  6. an astrological diagram giving the aspects of celestial bodies at a particular time
  7. mainly British a plan formally adopted by a commercial enterprise or governmental body, as for pensions, etc
  8. mainly Scot an area of housing that is laid out esp by a local authority; estate
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  1. (tr) to devise a system for
  2. to form intrigues (for) in an underhand manner
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Derived Formsschemer, noun

Word Origin for scheme

C16: from Latin schema, from Greek skhēma 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 schemer


1724, "a contriver, plotter," agent noun from scheme (v.).

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1550s, "figure of speech," from Medieval Latin schema "shape, figure, form, appearance; figure of speech; posture in dancing," from Greek skhema (genitive skhematos) "figure, appearance, the nature of a thing," related to skhein "to get," and ekhein "to have," from PIE root *segh- "to hold, to hold in one's power, to have" (cf. Sanskrit sahate "he masters, overcomes," sahah "power, victory;" Avestan hazah "power, victory;" Greek ekhein "to have, hold;" Gothic sigis, Old High German sigu, Old Norse sigr, Old English sige "victory").

The sense "program of action" first is attested 1640s. Unfavorable overtones (selfish, devious) began to creep in early 18c. Meaning "complex unity of coordinated component elements" is from 1736. Color scheme is attested from 1884.

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"devise a scheme," 1767 (earlier "reduce to a scheme," 1716), from scheme (n.). Related: Schemed; scheming.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with schemer


see best-laid plans (schemes).

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.