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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 The novella concludes with a final metamorphosis, one both strange and strangely hopeful. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Union of Death and Desire," 22 Nov. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about metamorphosis

Statistics for metamorphosis

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for metamorphosis

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on metamorphosis

What made you want to look up metamorphosis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!