Definition of metaphrase in US English:



  • A literal, word-for-word translation, as opposed to a paraphrase.

    • ‘Lloyd-Jones's metaphrases are valuable for understanding the Greek, while Fitts and Fitzgerald are not, but if one's purpose in translating Sophocles is to represent poetry as poetry with poetry, not Fagles, not Grene, and I imagine not Lloyd-Jones can be described as ‘excellent.’’
    • ‘I then decided to translate the whole of Gambara's poem, from hendecasyllabic line to line as closely as clear English allows - that is I began with Dryden's method of metaphrase.’
    • ‘The contents of the second included copies of three of the Countess's psalm metaphrases, and, in all probability, a copy of her translation of Petrarch's Trionfo della Morte.’
    • ‘John Dryden prescribed paraphrase, but later advocated a point between paraphrase and metaphrase.’
    • ‘In this workshop it will be suggested that both specific and circumstantial evidence point to a particular time when these translations, or metaphrases, were made and why.’
    rendering, rendition, gloss, conversion, construing, transcription, transliteration
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • Alter the phrasing or language of.

    ‘the sentence may be metaphrased into “what does homo sapiens wish to say by right?”’
    • ‘If it's metaphrased into English, it would mean ‘I would have had to do that earlier.’’
    • ‘We work on dividing the text up into brief, meaningful chunks and metaphrasing the chunks as a unit.’
    • ‘This is one reason why I teach metaphrasing from the very beginning when it is dirt easy.’
    • ‘There is much to be learned before one becomes a poet: revision, metaphrasing, word-weaving, compression.’
    • ‘In simple terms, Ninjutsu and Kendo can be metaphrased as strategic fighting and use of brute force.’


Early 17th century (denoting a metrical translation): from Greek metaphrazein, literally ‘word differently’.