See also: Scheme and schème


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Borrowed from Medieval Latin schēma (figure, form), from Ancient Greek σχῆμα (skhêma, form, shape), from ἔχω (ékhō, I hold). Doublet of schema. Compare sketch.


  • IPA(key): /skiːm/
  • Rhymes: -iːm
  • (file)


scheme (plural schemes)

  1. (rhetoric, obsolete) An artful deviation from the ordinary arrangement of words. [16th–17th c.]
  2. (astrology) A representation of the aspects of the celestial bodies for any moment or at a given event. [from 17th c.]
  3. A systematic plan of future action. [from 18th c.]
    • c. 1713, Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects
      The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.
    • 2013 June 1, “Ideas coming down the track”, in The Economist[1], volume 407, number 8838, page 13 (Technology Quarterly):
      A “moving platform” scheme [] is more technologically ambitious than maglev trains even though it relies on conventional rails. Local trains would use side-by-side rails to roll alongside intercity trains and allow passengers to switch trains by stepping through docking bays. This set-up solves several problems […].
  4. A plot or secret, devious plan.
  5. An orderly combination of related parts.
  6. A chart or diagram of a system or object.
    • April 29, 1694, Robert South, A Sermon Preached at Westminster Abbey
      to draw an exact scheme of Constantinople, or a map of France
  7. (mathematics) A mathematical structure that enlarges the notion of algebraic variety in several ways, such as taking account of multiplicities and allowing "varieties" defined over any commutative ring (e.g. Fermat curves over the integers).
  8. (UK, chiefly Scotland, colloquial) A council housing estate. [from 20th c.]
  9. (Internet) Part of a uniform resource identifier indicating the protocol or other purpose, such as http: or news:.
  10. (UK, pensions) A portfolio of pension plans with related benefits comprising multiple independent members.

Usage notesEdit

In the US, generally has devious connotations, while in the UK, frequently used as a neutral term for projects: “The road is closed due to a pavement-widening scheme.”


  • (a systematic plan of future action): blueprint

Derived termsEdit


  • Irish: scéim
  • Malay: skim


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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


scheme (third-person singular simple present schemes, present participle scheming, simple past and past participle schemed)

  1. (intransitive) To plot, or contrive a plan.
    • 2012 April 26, Tasha Robinson, “Film: Reviews: The Pirates! Band Of Misfits”, in The Onion AV Club[2]:
      The openly ridiculous plot has The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) scheming to win the Pirate Of The Year competition, even though he’s a terrible pirate, far outclassed by rivals voiced by Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek.
  2. (transitive) To plan; to contrive.
    • 1908, Bohemian Magazine (volume 15, page 381)
      He schemed a plot. He made use of the hotel's stationery to write a letter.








  1. (reflexive) to be ashamed
    Schemst-du dich net?
    Aren't you ashamed?

Further readingEdit

Middle Low GermanEdit


From Old Saxon skimo (shadow). Originally masculine.



scheme m or f

  1. A shadow, a shade; a darkness created by an object obstructing light
  2. A shadow, a shade; something which is barely perceptible or not physical
    ...lose se van der walt der dusternisse unde van deme scheme des dodes. (" them from the power of darkness and the shadow of death." )
  3. A shimmer; a soft or weak occurrence of light
  4. twilight; the lighting conditions at dusk and dawn
  5. A face mask
  6. aureola

Alternative formsEdit