metamorphosis

noun
meta·​mor·​pho·​sis | \ ˌme-tə-ˈmȯr-fə-səs How to pronounce metamorphosis (audio) \
plural metamorphoses\ ˌme-​tə-​ˈmȯr-​fə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce metamorphoses (audio) \

Definition of metamorphosis

1a : change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means the metamorphosis of humans into animals
b : a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances The company has gone through a series of metamorphoses.
2 : a typically marked and more or less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of an animal (such as a butterfly or a frog) occurring subsequent to birth or hatching the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies

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Did You Know?

Many ancient myths end in a metamorphosis. As Apollo is chasing the nymph Daphne, she calls on her river-god father for help and he turns her into a laurel tree to save her. Out of anger and jealousy, the goddess Athena turns the marvelous weaver Arachne into a spider that will spin only beautiful webs. But natural substances may also metamorphose, or undergo metamorphosis. Heat and pressure over thousands of years may eventually turn tiny organisms into petroleum, and coal into diamonds. And the most beloved of natural metamorphoses (notice how this plural is formed) is probably the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies.

Examples of metamorphosis in a Sentence

We have watched her metamorphosis from a shy schoolgirl into a self-confident businesswoman. a company that has gone through a series of metamorphoses The government has undergone political metamorphosis since his election. the metamorphosis of tadpoles into frogs The class learned about how caterpillars undergo metamorphosis to become butterflies.
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Recent Examples on the Web

What makes Midsommar a triumph, though, is Dani’s metamorphosis from a sullen, shell-shocked out-of-towner to … something entirely different. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Ari Aster’s Midsommar Is a Sun-Drenched Horror Triumph," 2 July 2019 Tox causes a variety of metamorphoses: scales, second spines, hair made of light. Nina Maclaughlin, BostonGlobe.com, "A riveting survival story; a whaler turned slave trader," 25 July 2019 The next Tory leader will be under pressure to continue the metamorphosis of his party from a force for free markets into a right-wing populist outfit in the (ironically) European mould. The Economist, "Which Boris would Britain get?," 20 June 2019 In a story that mirrors China’s metamorphosis into a global power, the company opened its first German office in Eschborn, near Frankfurt, back in 2001. Clifford Coonan, The Christian Science Monitor, "At stake in Huawei’s German bid, economic gain vs. national security," 6 June 2019 Sagittarius November 22 to December 21 Your current metamorphosis is almost complete, Sagittarius. Venus Australis, refinery29.com, "Your Horoscope This Week," 14 July 2019 The metamorphosis brought by the burst of the monsoon is profound. The Economist, "The South Asian monsoon, past, present and future," 27 June 2019 But its metamorphosis reflects a broader trend: As nonunion charter schools have gained acceptance in the past 20 years, political support for traditional public schools and teacher unions has eroded. Annie Waldman, ProPublica, "How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement," 18 June 2019 Others posited the butterfly theme hinted at some kind of metamorphosis, either visually or sonically. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Taylor Swift Just Dropped Her New Song and Music Video—and They’re So Surprising," 26 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metamorphosis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of metamorphosis

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for metamorphosis

Latin, from Greek metamorphōsis, from metamorphoun to transform, from meta- + morphē form

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Learn More about metamorphosis

Statistics for metamorphosis

Last Updated

20 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for metamorphosis

The first known use of metamorphosis was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for metamorphosis

metamorphosis

noun

English Language Learners Definition of metamorphosis

: a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something
biology : a major change in the form or structure of some animals or insects that happens as the animal or insect becomes an adult

metamorphosis

noun
meta·​mor·​pho·​sis | \ ˌme-tə-ˈmȯr-fə-səs How to pronounce metamorphosis (audio) \
plural metamorphoses\ -​fə-​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of metamorphosis

1 : a great change in appearance or character
2 : the process of great and usually rather sudden change in the form and habits of some animals during transformation from an immature stage (as a caterpillar) to an adult stage (as a butterfly)

metamorphosis

noun
meta·​mor·​pho·​sis | \ ˌmet-ə-ˈmȯr-fə-səs How to pronounce metamorphosis (audio) \
plural metamorphoses\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce metamorphoses (audio) \

Medical Definition of metamorphosis

1 : change of physical form, structure, or substance
2 : a marked and more or less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of an animal (as a butterfly or a frog) occurring subsequent to birth or hatching

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