Word of the Day : July 8, 2019


noun muh-TATH-uh-sis


: a change of place or condition: such as

a : transposition of two phonemes in a word

b : a chemical reaction in which different kinds of molecules exchange parts to form other kinds of molecules

Did You Know?

One familiar example of metathesis is the English word thrill, which was thyrlian in Old English and thirlen in Middle English. By the late 16th century, native English speakers had switched the placement of the r to form thrill. Another example is the alteration of curd into crud (the earliest sense of which was, unsurprisingly, curd). It probably won't surprise you to learn that the origin of metathesis lies in the idea of transposition—the word was borrowed into English in the mid-16th century and derives via Late Latin from the Greek verb metatithenai, meaning "to transpose."


The study examined metathesis in the speech of children between the ages of three and six.

"'Aks' and 'ask' both derive from one verb in Old English that featured the same transposition of sounds and gave rise to two equally-valid pronunciations: 'ascian' and 'acsian.' In linguistic terminology, this transposition, or swapping of sounds, is called metathesis….'" — Jordan MacKenzie, The Independent Florida Alligator (University of Florida), 10 Feb. 2016

Name That Synonym

Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of metathesis as used in its basic sense of "a change of place": LEERASRV.



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!