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

For them, any evanescent illusion of societal metamorphosis has long since dissolved, along with the emotional intensity of that moment. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: After the Earthquake, a ‘Room’ Haunted by Memories," 21 May 2018 Here, a look at our favorite beauty metamorphoses from the 2019 Golden Globes. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Best On-Screen Beauty Transformations from The 2019 Golden Globes," 3 Jan. 2019 As the modern woman has evolved over the last one hundred years, the metamorphosis of the bra is a reflection of that transformation. Vogue, "The True History of the Ultimate Wardrobe Essential—Your Bra," 11 Mar. 2019 The results in Iowa, long a swing state, reflect the metamorphosis of both parties. Janet Hook, WSJ, "What the Midterm Election Shows: America’s Two Parties Live In Divergent Worlds," 7 Nov. 2018 As its title suggests, Jill Barber's new album, Metaphora, showcases a kind of metamorphosis for the Canadian singer. Gary Graff, Billboard, "Jill Barber Tries to 'Remove Stigma From Mental Illness' With 'Mercy': Premiere," 24 May 2018 Speaking of the latter, often times a shifting professional backdrop yields an exciting metamorphosis in itself. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "14 Iconic Movie Makeovers That Make the Case for a Bold New Look," 15 June 2018 One of the most striking signs of Budapest’s revival since the Cold War has been the metamorphosis of the former Jewish ghetto, in the heart of Pest. András Szántó, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Budapest Is Europe's Unlikely Capital of Hedonism," 29 Aug. 2018 There's a butterfly on the back of Dolly Parton's tour bus in a photograph taken September 1, 1977, while on tour in Detroit—a telling symbol of the country singer's metamorphosis at the time. Maria Carter, Country Living, "TIME Just Released This Vintage Dolly Parton Interview, and It's Pure Country Gold," 19 Jan. 2016

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

14 May 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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