trans·mute | \tran(t)s-ˈmyüt, 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, 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

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 The movie’s first two-thirds are fairly faithful, but a daring final act, a more deliberate and affirming meditation on art and life, transmutes the tragic ending into something more wistful. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "‘The Seagull’ Brings Chekhov’s Doleful Comedy to Cinemas," 4 May 2018 But Fuchs has transmuted some of that pain into joy through her music. John Adamian,, "Dana Fuchs To Play The Warehouse," 12 May 2018 And depending on the nature of the role, Nilsson could transmute that vocal metal from steel to purest silver. Barrymore Laurence Scherer, WSJ, "Hitting the Right Notes for a Soprano’s Centenary," 16 May 2018 With this scene, their grandeur had transmuted from something that was previously soapy and colorful to something remote and frightening. David Sims, The Atlantic, "How Marvel Is Rewriting Its World Order," 24 Apr. 2018 My plan was to use the forms primarily from a traditional mail truck but transmuted it with the character from those hippy vans. Will Nevin,, "Interview | Writer Ryan O'Sullivan, artist Plaid Klaus go inside Image Comics' 'Void Trip'," 16 Apr. 2018 Like every rapper who ever clutched a microphone, Cardi is transmuting speech into music. Chris Richards,, "Everything Cardi B says is music on 'Invasion of Privacy'," 6 Apr. 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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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

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


transitive verb
trans·mute | \tranz-ˈmyüt, trans- \
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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