I note that the dictionary within WordOrigins does not know this word. It’s a biological term which means “divisive.” The writer at Guardian seems to use an obscure word to replace a perfectly meaningful one.
From a Brexit article at the Guardian:
This is a petri dish for resentment and risks incubating bacterial diseases that have the potential to spawn Brexit-sized epidemics. Since the early 1970s Britain’s fissiparous tendencies have been managed by references back to the people, with an unprecedented referendums at UK or devolved-nation level. We may yet resort to another to try to sort out this mess.
why not “divisive” tendencies? I suppose that it is a nice play on “petri dish”, “bacteria” and “epidemic.”
When it first entered English in the 19th century, “fissiparous” was concerned with reproduction. In biology, a fissiparous organism is one that produces new individuals by fission; that is, by dividing into separate parts, each of which becomes a unique organism. (Most strains of bacteria do this.) Fissiparous derives from Latin fissus, the past participle of “findere” ("to split"), and parere, meaning “to give birth to or “to produce.” Other “parere” offspring refer to other forms of reproduction, including “oviparous” ("producing eggs that hatch outside the body") and “viviparous” ("producing living young instead of eggs"). By the end of the 19th century “fissiparous” had acquired a figurative meaning, describing something that breaks into parts or causes something else to break into parts.
I’m warming up to this one, but I can’t imagine using it in a sentence.