per·mu·ta·tion | \ ˌpər-myü-ˈtā-shən \

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, -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

The Wings brass, led by Holland prepared for every possible permutation of the first round. Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings hope luck is on their side with 2018 NHL draft haul," 27 June 2018 Even Amazon’s vast cloud computers can’t calculate all the permutations, obstacles and political cross-currents such a legislative journey would witness. Andrew Malcolm, San Francisco Chronicle, "Republicans abandon conservatism," 15 Feb. 2018 The space went through various permutations over the next century, even becoming a foundry and lock factory. Patrick Z. Mcgavin, Daily Southtown, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Public Landing in Lockport," 8 July 2018 The band, which is still active, has gone through various permutations. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Nokie Edwards, Whose Guitar Drove the Ventures, Is Dead at 82," 16 Mar. 2018 Within a few ticks of the clock left in Sochi, Germany’s campaign was essentially done, no matter what the mathematical permutations said. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Germany stuns Sweden on Toni Kroos' last-gasp goal to resuscitate World Cup hopes," 23 June 2018 That said, there won’t be a permutation of the genre that doesn’t carry The Notorious B.I.G.’s DNA. Brian Josephs, Billboard, "The Notorious B.I.G.'s 25 Best Songs: Critic's Picks," 21 May 2018 There are no more group permutations to compute, no more worrying about goal-difference. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "It’s Time for Some Heavyweight Knockouts in the World Cup," 28 June 2018 While there were multiple permutations surrounding the final pair of Group F matches – Mexico-Sweden and Germany-South Korea, Mexico shouldn’t have had to worry about any complicated math at all. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Mexico choked and now its World Cup run looks doomed," 27 June 2018

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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Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for permutation

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

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English Language Learners Definition of permutation

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

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Spanish Central: Translation of permutation

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

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