metamorphosis

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

First attested in 1533, from Latin metamorphōsis, from Ancient Greek μεταμόρφωσις (metamórphōsis), from μετά (metá, after) + μορφή (morphḗ, form).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

metamorphosis (countable and uncountable, plural metamorphoses)

  1. A transformation, such as one performed by magic.
    • 1612, Michael Drayton, “Poly-Olbion”, in The Complete Works of Michael Drayton, volume I, London: J. R. Smith, published 1876, page 147:
      With Severne she along doth go, / Her Metamorphosis to show ; / And makes the wand’ring Wy declaim / In honour of the British name.
    • 1626 May 1, James Howell, Epistolæ Ho-Elianæ: Familiar Letters, Domestick and Foreign, 7th edition, London: T. G., published 1705, page 179:
      I wonder’d at ſuch a Metamorphoſis in ſo ſhort a time, he told me, ’Twas for the death of his Wife, that Nature had thus antedated him his years ; ’tis true, that a weighty ſettled Sorrow is of that force, that beſides the contraction of the Spirits, it will work upon the radical moiſture, and dry it up, ſo that the hair can have no moiſture at the root.
    • 1868, Robert Browning, “The Pope”, in Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke, editor, The Ring and the Book, volume II, New York: T. Y. Crowell & Co., published 1898, lines 1610–3, page 212:
      Where is the gloriously-decisive change, / Metamorphosis the immeasurable / Of human clay to divine gold, we looked / Should, in some poor sort, justify its price ?
  2. A noticeable change in character, appearance, function or condition.
  3. (biology) A change in the form and often habits of an animal after the embryonic stage during normal development. (e.g. the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or a tadpole into a frog.)
  4. (pathology) A change in the structure of a specific body tissue. Usually degenerative.

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