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Idioms for change

Origin of change

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English verb cha(u)ngen, from Anglo-French, Old French changer, from Late Latin cambiāre, Latin cambīre “to exchange, barter”; Middle English noun cha(u)nge, from Anglo-French, Old French, noun derivative of the verb; of Celtic origin

synonym study for change

1. Change, alter both mean to make a difference in the state or condition of a thing or to substitute another state or condition. To change is to make a material difference so that the thing is distinctly different from what it was: to change one's opinion. To alter is to make some partial change, as in appearance, but usually to preserve the identity: to alter a dress, as by raising the hem ( to change a dress would mean to put on a different one).

historical usage of change

The English noun and verb change are both recorded at just about the same time (between 1200 and 1225), but the meanings of the noun follow those of the verb. The Middle English verb change, chaungen, chaungie, changen, chaingen (and other spelling variants) “to be altered, alter (a purpose, attitude, or opinion), transform or be transformed; substitute, exchange” come from Anglo-French chaunger, changir and Old French changier, with the same meanings. The French verb comes from Latin cambiāre “to exchange,” from earlier cambīre “to exchange, barter,” both of Celtic (Gaulish) origin.
The French development from cambiāre to changier is regular; other Romance languages have developed in differing ways: Spanish and Portuguese cambiar keep cambiāre more or less intact; Catalan has canviar; Sardinian has cambiare; Old Provençal has both cambiar and camjar; Old Italian (late 12th century) has cambiare, but modern Italian only cangiare.
The Middle English verb was used to refer to the exchange of money, coins, or currency, but the corresponding noun meanings did not appear until the mid-16th century; the specific usage “the balance of money returned to a buyer” is first recorded in 1665.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for change

British Dictionary definitions for change

/ (tʃeɪndʒ) /



Derived forms of change

changeless, adjectivechangelessly, adverbchangelessness, nounchanger, noun

Word Origin for change

C13: from Old French changier, from Latin cambīre to exchange, barter
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

Idioms and Phrases with change


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.