trans·​fig·​u·​ra·​tion (ˌ)tran(t)s-ˌfi-gyə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce transfiguration (audio)
: a change in form or appearance : metamorphosis
: an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change
capitalized : a Christian feast that commemorates the transfiguration of Christ on a mountaintop in the presence of three disciples and that is observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and some Eastern churches and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches

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The Gospels relate that one day Jesus took three disciples up a mountain, where they witnessed his transfiguration into divine form: his face shone like the sun, his garments became brilliantly white, and a voice from heaven proclaimed that this was the son of God. Transfiguration was first used in English as the name of this biblical event, and the Feast of the Transfiguration remains the name of a holy day. So the word has always kept a somewhat religious—and almost always positive—tone. A face may be transfigured by joy, and an "ugly duckling" may be slowly transfigured into a radiant beauty. And as Harry Potter fans know, transfiguration is a subject long taught at the Hogwarts School by Minerva McGonagall.

Example Sentences

after his transfiguration into a Buddhist monk, all his family and friends were amazed by his newly found patience and tranquillity
Recent Examples on the Web The billion-dollar Kardashian empire is built on paradoxes: the endless watchability of a family whose flat emotional timbre rarely wavers, the transfiguration of notoriety into a following that makes you (by Instagram metrics) the sixth-most-famous person on Earth. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 10 Oct. 2021 Specifically, what could be taken as the most obvious transfiguration of the St. John Passion, dramatizing the final hours of Jesus’s life: This Jesus is Black, richly and compellingly embodied by a powerful bass-baritone, guest artist Jonathan Woody. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2021 Tuesday, January 17 and Wednesday, January 18 at 8pm Theatre 301 COLLUSIONS OF GRANDEUR – transfiguration, by interdisciplinary artist and composer ALEXA GRÆ, is a surrealist multimedia opera engaging stories manifested through body evolutions. Risa Sarachan, Forbes, 6 Jan. 2023 That is, nothing can be done until history is ended, in the transfiguration of the world through the parousia, the coming of Christ the King. Michael Robbins, Harper’s Magazine , 9 Nov. 2022 Relating folk culture to death and transfiguration, Bercot transcends the triviality of most contemporary filmmaking. Armond White, National Review, 2 Nov. 2022 The philosopher William MacAskill credits his personal transfiguration to an undergraduate seminar at Cambridge. Gideon Lewis-kraus, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2022 But the process of transfiguration—denaturing her pain, turning it into song—can also be healing. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 30 May 2022 Punctuating the transfiguration in 1946, Mrs. Roosevelt and President Harry Truman appeared on its steps for an outdoor meeting of the NAACP. Harold Holzer, WSJ, 21 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'transfiguration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of transfiguration was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near transfiguration

Cite this Entry

“Transfiguration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


trans·​fig·​u·​ra·​tion (ˌ)tran(t)s-ˌfig-(y)ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce transfiguration (audio)
: a great change of form or appearance
especially : a change that beautifies, glorifies, or makes more spiritual
capitalized : a Christian festival celebrating Jesus' transfiguration on the mountain as witnessed by three of his disciples

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