a series of mythological tales or legends in verse (a.d. 7–8) by Ovid.


[met-uh-mawr-fohz, -fohs]

verb (used with object), met·a·mor·phosed, met·a·mor·phos·ing.

to change the form or nature of; transform.
to subject to metamorphosis or metamorphism.

verb (used without object), met·a·mor·phosed, met·a·mor·phos·ing.

to undergo or be capable of undergoing a change in form or nature.

Origin of metamorphose

First recorded in 1570–80; back formation from metamorphosis
Related formsun·met·a·mor·phosed, adjective

Synonyms for metamorphose



noun, plural met·a·mor·pho·ses [met-uh-mawr-fuh-seez] /ˌmɛt əˈmɔr fəˌsiz/.

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.Compare complete metamorphosis.
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 formsnon·met·a·mor·pho·sis, noun, plural non·met·a·mor·pho·ses.

Synonyms for metamorphosis

Antonyms for metamorphosis

1, 2. stasis. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for metamorphoses

Contemporary Examples of metamorphoses

  • The transformations contained in The Pregnant Widow (as in "The Metamorphoses") are sexual, physical, and philosophical, too.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Martin Amis' Sexual Revolution

    Olivia Cole

    May 10, 2010

  • Versailles will continue its metamorphoses, but these glittering images will remain still.

    The Daily Beast logo

    Rachel Hulin

    October 24, 2008

Historical Examples of metamorphoses

  • Ovid was not a greater master of metamorphoses than thy friend.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • With the metamorphoses of various insects Aristotle was well acquainted.

  • The story, with but a few necessary alterations, comes from Ovid's Metamorphoses.

    John Lyly

    John Dover Wilson

  • These little myths and metamorphoses of gems are ingenious and graceful.

  • You may trace most of the Metamorphoses of Ovid on the walls of the cathedrals.

    The Story of Rouen

    Sir Theodore Andrea Cook

British Dictionary definitions for metamorphoses



to undergo or cause to undergo metamorphosis or metamorphism


noun plural -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 for metamorphosis

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

Word Origin and History for metamorphoses



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).



1570s, from Middle French métamorphoser (16c.), from métamorphose (n.), from Latin metamorphosis (see metamorphosis). Related: Metamorphosed. The Greek verb was metamorphoun.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

metamorphoses in Medicine



n. pl. met•a•mor•pho•ses (-sēz′)

A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function.transformation
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.
A usually degenerative pathological change in the structure of a particular body tissue.
Related formsmet′a•mor•photic (-môr-fŏtĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

metamorphoses 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

metamorphoses in Culture



A long poem by the ancient Roman poet Ovid, in which he relates numerous stories from classical mythology. Many of the stories deal with miraculous transformations, or metamorphoses.



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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.