1. A systematic plan of action: "Did you ever carry out your scheme of writing a series of sonnets embodying all the great epochs of art?" (Edith Wharton). See Synonyms at plan.
2. A secret or devious plan; a plot: a scheme to defraud investors.
3. An orderly plan or arrangement of related parts: an irrigation scheme with dams, reservoirs, and channels.
4. A chart, diagram, or outline of a system or object.
v. schemed, schem·ing, schemes
To contrive a plan or scheme for; plot: scheming their revenge.
To make plans, especially secret or devious ones.
[Latin schēma, figure, from Greek skhēma; see segh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.