Origin of metamorphic

First recorded in 1810–20; meta- + -morphic
Related formsnon·met·a·mor·phic, adjectivepre·met·a·mor·phic, adjectiveun·met·a·mor·phic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for metamorphic

Historical Examples of metamorphic

  • The rocks of these ranges are primary and metamorphic, and the scenery is bold.

    A Tramp's Notebook

    Morley Roberts

  • In metamorphic rocks the difficulties are usually about as great.


    William J. Miller

  • Crude petroleum is never found in metamorphic or igneous rocks.

    The A B C of Mining

    Charles A. Bramble

  • When they present these characteristics, we term them Metamorphic Rocks.

  • Stratification of the metamorphic rocks distinct from cleavage.

British Dictionary definitions for metamorphic



  1. relating to or resulting from metamorphosis or metamorphism
  2. (of rocks) altered considerably from their original structure and mineralogy by pressure and heatCompare igneous, sedimentary
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

Word Origin and History for metamorphic

1833 (Lyell) in the geological sense, in reference to rock whose form has been changed by heat or pressure, from metamorphosis + -ic. Earlier (1816) in non-technical sense "characterized by change."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

metamorphic in Science


  1. Zoology Relating to metamorphosis.
  2. Geology Relating to rocks that have undergone metamorphism. Metamorphic rocks are formed when igneous, sedimentary, or other metamorphic rocks undergo a physical change due to extreme heat and pressure. These changes often produce folded layers or banding in the rocks, and they can also cause pockets of precious minerals to form. The folds and banding can be produced by incomplete segregation of minerals during recrystallization, or they can be inherited from preexisting beds in sedimentary rocks or preexisting layers in igneous rocks. The precious minerals can form as the result of recrystallization when the rocks undergoing metamorphism are subjected to changes in pressure and temperature.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.