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noun, plural met·a·mor·pho·ses [met-uh-mawr-fuh-seez] /ˌmɛt əˈmɔr fəˌsiz/.
  1. 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.
  2. a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.
  3. any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.
  4. a form resulting from any such change.
  5. Pathology.
    1. a type of alteration or degeneration in which tissues are changed: fatty metamorphosis of the liver.
    2. the resultant form.
  6. Botany. the structural or functional modification of a plant organ or structure during its development.
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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

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Antonyms for metamorphosis

1, 2. stasis.

Metamorphosis, The

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

Related Words for metamorphosis

rebirth, evolution, transfiguration, alteration, transubstantiation, transmogrification, change, translation, changeover, transmutation, mutation

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Historical Examples of metamorphosis

British Dictionary definitions for metamorphosis


noun plural -ses (-ˌsiːz)
  1. a complete change of physical form or substance
  2. a complete change of character, appearance, etc
  3. a person or thing that has undergone metamorphosis
  4. 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
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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 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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

metamorphosis in Medicine


n. pl. met•a•mor•pho•ses (-sēz′)
  1. A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function.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.
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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.

metamorphosis in Science


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

metamorphosis in Culture



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

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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.