Definition of metempsychosis in English:



  • [mass noun] The supposed transmigration at death of the soul of a human being or animal into a new body of the same or a different species:

    ‘like Eliot he has an interest in metempsychosis’
    [count noun] ‘the speaker perceives himself as an avatar in a sustained metempsychosis’
    • ‘It is striking, however, that there are essentially no testimonia connecting Archytas to metempsychosis or the religious aspect of Pythagoreanism.’
    • ‘The Greeks called it metempsychosis and the belief is widespread, possibly universal.’
    • ‘The messianic and metempsychosis are thus not aberrant.’
    • ‘According to the Taittiriya Upanishad, food represents the coarsest and last of the five vestures in which the soul is clothed and passes from body to body in the long process of metempsychosis.’
    • ‘But overall, he greatly admires Hindu genius and metempsychosis.’
    • ‘Here, the narrators of these tales in the Middle Ages - and especially theologians - had to avoid any hint of metempsychosis (perhaps why Bernard and others clung so hard to hybridity).’
    • ‘By this time the correlation of the macrocosm and microcosm was complete and the doctrine of metempsychosis fully formulated.’
    • ‘His religious teaching centred on the doctrine of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls from man to man, man to animal, or animal to man in a process of purification or punishment.’
    • ‘Related to these accounts of bodily transformation was the doctrine of metempsychosis, that is, the migration of the soul into another body after death.’
    • ‘Countless ethnogenic fables, both large as Trojan descent and as small as the metempsychosis of the Pythagorean soul, appear throughout the long medieval period from late antiquity to the so-called high Renaissance.’
    • ‘So Virginia, Laura and Clarissa demonstrate a metempsychosis, a transmigration of souls; the languor of their private breakdowns are cousins to each other.’
    • ‘No one is really implying a comparison with the complex and religiously inspired system of India, grounded in its notions of metempsychosis.’
    • ‘The results are slick, funny and unsettling, slipping between psychological thriller, absurdist farce and ghost story into an unnerving dreamscape where psychosis meets metempsychosis.’
    • ‘Spiritualism, pan-animism, metempsychosis and reincarnation were at the radical end of a spectrum, but wide consensus existed for accepting evolution as a creed of progress.’
    • ‘The resemblance of the metempsychosis to Naldi's version is undeniable, and the Pythagorean model would seem to anticipate further genealogies of this kind.’


Late 16th century: via late Latin from Greek metempsukhōsis, from meta- (expressing change) + en in + psukhē soul.