per·​mu·​ta·​tion | \ ˌpər-myü-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce permutation (audio) \

Definition of permutation

1 : often major or fundamental change (as in character or condition) based primarily on rearrangement of existent elements the system has gone through several permutations also : a form or variety resulting from such change technology available in various permutations
2a : the act or process of changing the lineal order of an ordered set of objects
b : an ordered arrangement of a set of objects

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Other Words from permutation

permutational \ ˌpər-​myü-​ˈtā-​shnəl How to pronounce permutation (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Did You Know?

Permutation has not changed all that much since it was borrowed into Middle English from Anglo-French in the 14th century as permutacioun, meaning "exchange, transformation." Permutacioun traces back to the Latin verb permutare, meaning "to change thoroughly, exchange," and ultimately derives from the Latin mutare, to change. Other descendants of mutare in English include commute, mutant, and mutual. Permutation also has a specific application in the field of mathematics relating to the ordering of a given set of objects. For example, permutations of items a, b, and c are abc, acb, bac, etc.

Examples of permutation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For each SoC, Qualcomm would need to maintain a vendor implementation for each software history permutation. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Qualcomm promises three years of Android updates for its entire SoC lineup," 16 Dec. 2020 General rules of permutation tell us there are 6,188 different lineups that Howard can choose from, based on the 17-man roster. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball's rotation strategy going according to plan: 'All hands on deck'," 3 Dec. 2020 On the wall was a list of the probabilities of arriving at the right permutation for the respective locks. Ben Lerner, Harper's Magazine, "The Grove," 27 Oct. 2020 In every permutation, from generals and liberators to late capitalist celebrity-politicians like Barack Obama or Justin Trudeau, charisma is an unbalanced emotional exchange. Ian Beacock, The New Republic, "Can Democracy Handle Charisma?," 17 Aug. 2020 The latest permutation of this important new species is the Honda City. Michael Jordan, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1982 Honda City Makes a Case for Minicars in America," 9 July 2020 Here are ten thousand permutations of a book and a mug of coffee, painstakingly arranged on a cafe table. Pia Ceres, Wired, "I Can’t Stop Escaping Into Google Photos’ Nostalgia Vortex," 3 May 2020 Her life goes on and has a lot of permutations, but the love story does have a beginning and a devastating end point. Kelsea Stahler,, "How Narcos: Mexico’s Sosie Bacon Channeled The Real Mimi Webb Miller’s Romance With Pablo Acosta," 20 Feb. 2020 In math, a derangement is a permutation in which no element is in its original position. Author: Ariana Eunjung Cha, Anchorage Daily News, "A mysterious blood-clotting complication is killing coronavirus patients," 22 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'permutation.' 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 permutation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for permutation

Middle English permutacioun exchange, transformation, from Anglo-French, from Latin permutation-, permutatio, from permutare

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Time Traveler for permutation Time Traveler

The first known use of permutation was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Permutation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for permutation



English Language Learners Definition of permutation

formal : one of the many different ways or forms in which something exists or can be arranged

More from Merriam-Webster on permutation

Britannica English: Translation of permutation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about permutation

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