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First attested 1908, from New Latin schizophrenia, from German Schizophrenie, coined by Eugen Bleuler, from Ancient Greek σχίζω (skhízō, to split) + φρήν (phrḗn, mind, heart, diaphragm) + -ia.


  • IPA(key): /ˌskɪt.səˈfɹiː.ni.ə/, /ˌskɪt.səˈfɹɛ.ni.ə/, /ˌskɪz.əˈfɹiː.ni.ə/
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schizophrenia (countable and uncountable, plural schizophrenias)

  1. (pathology) A psychiatric diagnosis denoting a persistent, often chronic, mental illness characterised by abnormal perception, thinking, behavior and emotion, often marked by delusions.
  2. (informal, figuratively) Any condition in which disparate or mutually exclusive activities coexist; a lack of decision between options.
    • 2006, Bertus Praeg, Ethiopia and Political Renaissance in Africa (page 213)
      [] one can understand how the cultural disorientation which beset the African Continent has confused Africa's political behaviour, creating a political schizophrenia that made nation-building impossible.
    • 2012, James Lambert, “Beyond Hobson-Jobson: A new lexicography for Indian English”, in World Englishes[1], page 305:
      Nevertheless, a certain amount of schizophrenia pertains to the study of World Englishes as New Englishes, for while new Englishes are regarded as valid varieties in their own right, the description and delineation of them in linguistic terms is conducted through the gaze of native-speaker norms.

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Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “schizophrenia”, in Online Etymology Dictionary. “schizophrenia”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.