metempsychosis

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Late Latin metempsychosis, from Hellenistic Ancient Greek μετεμψύχωσις (metempsúkhōsis), from Ancient Greek μετα- (meta-) + εν (en, in) + ψυχή (psukhḗ, soul).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /mɛtəmsʌɪˈkəʊsɪs/

Noun[edit]

metempsychosis (plural metempsychoses)

  1. Transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. [from 16th c.]
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.11:
      Pythagoras borrowed Metempsychosis of the Ægyptians, but since, it hath been received of divers Nations, and especially of our Druides [].
    • 1891, Rudyard Kipling, "The Finest Story in the World":
      The Fates that are so careful to shut the doors of each successive life behind us had, in this case, been neglectful, and Charlie was looking, though that he did not know, where never man had been permitted to look with full knowledge since Time began. Above all he was absolutely ignorant of the knowledge sold to me for five pounds; and he would retain that ignorance, for bank-clerks do not understand metempsychosis, and a sound commercial education does not include Greek.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses:
      Metempsychosis, he said, is what the ancient Greeks called it. They used to believe you could be changed into an animal or a tree, for instance. What they called nymphs, for example.
    • 1963, Thomas Pynchon, V.:
      To go along assuming that Victoria the girl tourist and Veronica the sewer rat were one and the same V. was not at all to bring up any metempsychosis: only to affirm that his quarry fitted in with The Big One, the century’s master cabal.
    • 1994, Will Self, My Idea of Fun:
      Hers was a metempsychosis of novelty, her mind a vapid thing until animated by the next absolute conviction.

Translations[edit]