• permutation
  • audio pronunciation
  • \per-myoo-TAY-shun\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
: often major or fundamental change (as in character or condition) based primarily on rearrangement of existent elements; also : a form or variety resulting from such change
2
a : the act or process of changing the lineal order of an ordered set of objects b : an ordered arrangement of a set of objects
  • EXAMPLES

The policy went through a number of permutations before the committee settled on its final version.

"There are grilled cheeses with pierogi, hamburger patties, jerk shrimp and crabmeat. They use gouda, beer cheese, buffalo mozzarella and provolone. The permutations are potentially limitless." — Dan Gigler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2014

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Permutation has not changed all that much since it was borrowed into Middle English from Anglo-French in the 14th century as permutacioun, meaning "exchange, transformation." Permutacioun traces back to the Latin verb permutare, meaning "to change thoroughly, exchange," and ultimately derives from the Latin mutare, "to change." Other descendants of mutare in English include commute, mutant, and mutual. Permutation also has a specific application in the field of mathematics relating to the ordering of a given set of objects. For example, permutations of items a, b, and c are abc, acb, bac, etc.

Word Family Quiz: What four-letter descendant of mutare begins with "m" and means "to shed an outer layer"? The answer is …

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