trans·​mute tran(t)s-ˈmyüt How to pronounce transmute (audio)
transmuted; transmuting

transitive verb

: to change or alter in form, appearance, or nature and especially to a higher form
: to subject (something, such as an element) to transmutation

intransitive verb

: to undergo transmutation
transmutable adjective

Did you know?

Transmutation changes something over into something else. Thus, a writer may transmute his life into stories or novels, and an arranger might transmute a lively march tune into a quiet lullaby. In the "Myth of Er" at the end of Plato's Republic, for example, human souls are transmuted into the body and existence of their choice. Having learned from their last life what they do not want to be, many choose transmutation into something that seems better. A meek man chooses to be transmuted into a tyrant, a farmer into a dashing (but short-lived) warrior, and so on. But very few seem to have learned anything from their former life that would make their choice a real improvement.

Choose the Right Synonym for transmute

transform, metamorphose, transmute, convert, transmogrify, transfigure mean to change a thing into a different thing.

transform implies a major change in form, nature, or function.

transformed a small company into a corporate giant

metamorphose suggests an abrupt or startling change induced by or as if by magic or a supernatural power.

awkward girls metamorphosed into graceful ballerinas

transmute implies transforming into a higher element or thing.

attempted to transmute lead into gold

convert implies a change fitting something for a new or different use or function.

converted the study into a nursery

transmogrify suggests a strange or preposterous metamorphosis.

a story in which a frog is transmogrified into a prince

transfigure implies a change that exalts or glorifies.

joy transfigured her face

Examples of transmute in a Sentence

The stories of their lives were transmuted into works of fiction. The former criminal had transmuted into a national hero.
Recent Examples on the Web By transmuting the raw materials of his life to make this film, Miyazaki made a similar existential choice, to channel some of the most intimate and frightening imagery of his early life, and draw it over and over and over again in storyboards to relay an ultimate message of hope. Eric Vilas-Boas, Vulture, 10 Mar. 2024 Bright Future’s recording style mirrors the listener’s experience: as time goes on, these songs and the emotions associated with them will inevitably deepen, transmute, and attach themselves to the memory of different people. Leah Lu, Rolling Stone, 25 Mar. 2024 And avocado hand has transmuted from kitchen oopsie to legitimate source of concern for surgeons. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 4 Mar. 2024 Alia is prematurely born, and the tribe (including Paul) drinks the water transmuted by Jessica. Max Evry, WIRED, 4 Mar. 2024 So, these groups ultimately transmuted to what is known as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Feb. 2024 That line points to a profound paradox of prison life: that what defines humanity outside prison walls makes one a target for predation inside of them, circumstances that transmute humanity into toughness, aggression, apathy. Mitchell S. Jackson, New York Times, 20 Dec. 2023 Only in the eyes of a zealot could a story about a pop star dating a football star be transmuted into The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 31 Jan. 2024 Pat McGrath further cemented her icon status at John Galliano’s Margiela Artisanal show last week, transmuting models into something both hyper-human and sculpture-esque by way of glassy and near-porcelain skin. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 31 Jan. 2024

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin transmutare, from trans- + mutare to change — more at mutable

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of transmute was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near transmute

Cite this Entry

“Transmute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


trans·​mute tran(t)s-ˈmyüt How to pronounce transmute (audio)
transmuted; transmuting
: to change in kind, appearance, or value : convert
: to change into another substance or element : to undergo transmutation

Legal Definition


transitive verb
trans·​mute tranz-ˈmyüt, trans- How to pronounce transmute (audio)
transmuted; transmuting
: to convert or transform the type of ownership of (property) by transmutation
did not transmute the properties themselves into marital assetsIn re Siddens, 588 N.E.2d 321 (1992)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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