Dictionary.com

metamorphosis

[ met-uh-mawr-fuh-sis ]
/ ˌmɛt əˈmɔr fə sɪs /
Save This Word!

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.
Pathology.
  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.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON “ITS” VS. “IT’S”!

Apostrophes can be tricky; prove you know the difference between it’s and its in this crafty quiz!
Question 1 of 12
On the farm, the feed for chicks is significantly different from the roosters’; ______ not even comparable.

Origin of metamorphosis

1525–35; <New Latin metamorphōsis<Greek metamórphōsis transformation. See meta-, -morph, -osis
non·met·a·mor·pho·sis, noun, plural non·met·a·mor·pho·ses.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for metamorphosis

metamorphosis
/ (ˌmɛtəˈmɔːfəsɪs) /

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
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

Medical definitions for metamorphosis

metamorphosis
[ mĕt′ə-môrfə-sĭs ]

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.
met′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.

Scientific definitions for metamorphosis

metamorphosis
[ mĕt′ə-môrfə-sĭs ]

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.

Cultural definitions for metamorphosis

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
What's This Word?