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[met-uh-mawr-fuh-sis] /ˌmɛt əˈmɔr fə sɪs/
noun, plural metamorphoses
[met-uh-mawr-fuh-seez] /ˌmɛt əˈmɔr fəˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
Biology. a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.
a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.
any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.
a form resulting from any such change.
  1. a type of alteration or degeneration in which tissues are changed:
    fatty metamorphosis of the liver.
  2. the resultant form.
Botany. the structural or functional modification of a plant organ or structure during its development.
Origin of metamorphosis
1525-35; < New Latin metamorphōsis < Greek metamórphōsis transformation. See meta-, -morph, -osis
Related forms
nonmetamorphosis, noun, plural nonmetamorphoses.
2. mutation, transmutation.
1, 2. stasis.

Metamorphosis, The

noun, German Die Verwandlung
a short story (1915) by Franz Kafka. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for metamorphosis


noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz)
a complete change of physical form or substance
a complete change of character, appearance, etc
a person or thing that has undergone metamorphosis
(zoology) the rapid transformation of a larva into an adult that occurs in certain animals, for example the stage between tadpole and frog or between chrysalis and butterfly
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek: transformation, from meta- + morphē form
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for metamorphosis

1530s, "change of form or shape," especially by witchcraft, from Latin metamorphosis, from Greek metamorphosis "a transforming, a transformation," from metamorphoun "to transform, to be transfigured," from meta- "change" (see meta-) + morphe "form" (see Morpheus). Biological sense is from 1660s. As the title of Ovid's work, late 14c., Metamorphoseos, from Latin Metamorphoses (plural).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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metamorphosis in Medicine

metamorphosis met·a·mor·pho·sis (mět'ə-môr'fə-sĭs)
n. pl. met·a·mor·pho·ses (-sēz')

  1. A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function. Also called transformation.

  2. A change in the form and often habits of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage. Metamorphosis includes, in insects, the transformation of a maggot into an adult fly and a caterpillar into a butterfly and, in amphibians, the changing of a tadpole into a frog.

  3. A usually degenerative pathological change in the structure of a particular body tissue.

met'a·mor·phot'ic (-môr-fŏt'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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metamorphosis in Science
Dramatic change in the form and often the habits of an animal during its development after birth or hatching. The transformation of a maggot into an adult fly and of a tadpole into an adult frog are examples of metamorphosis. The young of such animals are called larvae.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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metamorphosis in Culture
metamorphosis [(met-uh-mawr-fuh-sis)]

A change in an animal as it grows, particularly a radical change, such as the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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