: change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means
the metamorphosis of humans into animals
: a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances
The company has gone through a series of metamorphoses.
: 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
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.
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.
Recent Examples on the WebAs the fight moves to her hometown, Rose finds her voice, and her metamorphosis parallels the country’s vital transformation seeded by the civil rights movement.—Becky Meloan, Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2023 The profound emotional metamorphosis catalyzed by these surgeries is a potent fuel for the industry's relentless growth.—Hilary Tetenbaum, USA TODAY, 8 Aug. 2023 But as Superman went through various metamorphoses, and corporate overseers, his Jewish particularism ebbed and flowed, depending on who was writing, acting, or directing.—Jay Michaelson, Rolling Stone, 28 June 2023 Like other beetles, ladybugs develop through complete metamorphosis with an egg, larval, pupal and adult stage.—Susan Pransky, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Oct. 2023 The wild metamorphosis continues, and while its mechanisms may be technological, the soul behind them is deeply and unavoidably human.—Amy Dickinson, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Aug. 2023 This cultural metamorphosis doesn't overshadow the thrilling allure of Kenya's safaris but instead illuminates them anew, paving the way for a bespoke safari concept: a journey harmonizing the artistic energy permeating the capital with the expansive wilderness beyond.—Paul Jebara, Forbes, 16 July 2023 Try this metamorphosis skincare kit that's appropriate for all skin types.—Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 12 July 2023 The humanist and bioethicist Leon Kass warned that if the value of a human being is considered subjective, invariably the right to die metamorphoses into the duty to die.—Alexander Raikin, National Review, 14 Sep. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'metamorphosis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Latin, from Greek metamorphōsis, from metamorphoun to transform, from meta- + morphē form
: a change of form, structure, or substance especially by witchcraft or magic
: an extraordinary change in appearance, character, or circumstances
: the process of basic and usually rather sudden change in the form and habits of some animals during transformation from an immature stage (as a tadpole or a caterpillar) to an adult stage (as a frog or a butterfly) compare complete metamorphosis, incomplete metamorphosis