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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Fox doesn’t take her fashion metamorphosis completely seriously, at least according to her Instagram captions, which is great. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 10 Mar. 2022 These shows focus on a constellation of art works that resonate with themes of the show—like metamorphosis or the idea of the cyborg or the idea of the body as a vessel—but not necessarily from an art historical perspective. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, 18 Apr. 2022 The streets begin their metamorphosis at 7 p.m., when community ambassadors from nonprofit Urban Alchemy, who are assigned to blocks throughout the neighborhood, go home. Mallory Moench, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Apr. 2022 In spite of the debates that have erupted over the genre’s purity, flamenco is, at its core, a product of global migration and constant metamorphosis. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 17 Mar. 2022 His metamorphosis from liberal darling to conservative leader was part of an unusual route to South Korea’s presidential Blue House, a rise whose aftershocks will recast how Seoul approaches foreign policy, fuels its economy and advocates for women. Dasl Yoon And Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2022 When Mei Mei changes back to human form — her temporary, werewolf-like metamorphosis is triggered by strong emotion, and can be undone by calming down — her once-black hair remains a bright, flame red. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 His metamorphosis into Founding Father was more gradual than that of other revolutionary figures, with Franklin at various points hoping to avoid a breach with Britain. Brent Lang, Variety, 17 Feb. 2022 Mortensen plays celebrity performance artist Saul Tenser who, together with his partner Caprice (Seydoux), publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Metamorphosis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for metamorphosis


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)


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