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

Definition of transmute

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to undergo transmutation

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Other Words from transmute

transmutable \ tran(t)s-​ˈmyü-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce transmutable (audio) , tranz-​ \ adjective

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

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.

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

Some of these Fiverr performers go viral and are able to transmute the radical silliness of their craft into a legitimate career, outside of someone else’s viral videos. Luke.winkie, Vox, "Inside Venezuela’s YouTube prank economy," 12 Dec. 2018 In Welcome to Santo Poco!, their new solo show at Cristina Grajales Gallery, the brothers transmute the wonder of the new property into a variety of mixed media artworks. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "Welcome to Santo Poco! The Ladd Brothers Evoke Childhood Magic at Cristina Grajales Gallery," 29 Nov. 2018 To the casual drinker, the idea of transmuting religion or social science into cocktails may verge on the absurd. Elizabeth G. Dunn, WSJ, "My Cocktail’s Smarter Than Yours: A Guide to the World’s Brainiest Bar Menus," 12 July 2018 How Berlin’s memories were transmuted into her stories is illuminated in Evening in Paradise’s companion volume, Berlin’s first published work of memoir, called Welcome Home. Bridget Read, Vogue, "How Lucia Berlin Became A Literary Superstar 11 Years After Her Death (And Is About to Publish A New Collection)," 5 Nov. 2018 The holy grail of alchemy was the legendary philosopher’s stone, which wasn’t a stone at all but an elusive substance that could isolate the pure essence of a material and transmute it into something else, namely gold. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "The Eternal Quest for Aether, the Cosmic Stuff That Never Was," 19 Oct. 2018 Then everyone takes an action in turn, transmuting food into stone or cacao into glass jugs. Tom Mendelsohn, Ars Technica, "Altiplano review: A brain-tickling board game about… alpacas," 14 July 2018 That means leaders can all provide their own interpretations and claim victory at home, while hapless officials are left to work out how to transmute the empty phrases into meaningful policy. The Economist, "How policy debates in Europe become untethered from reality," 12 July 2018 The first half of the book is a fascinating biography of A.C. Lee, the second a description of how his daughter transmuted him into Atticus Finch – into America’s father. Charles Finch, USA TODAY, "Two new books reflect on why 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' and Atticus Finch, matter so much," 25 June 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for transmute

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

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Time Traveler for transmute

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

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More Definitions for transmute



English Language Learners Definition of transmute

formal : to completely change the form, appearance, or nature of (someone or something)


transitive verb
trans·​mute | \ tranz-ˈmyüt, trans- How to pronounce transmute (audio) \
transmuted; transmuting

Legal Definition of transmute

: 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)

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Comments on transmute

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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