Definition of transmutation in US English:



  • 1The action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.

    ‘the transmutation of the political economy of the postwar years was complete’
    • ‘The two Latin words interrupt the miraculous transmutation of the classical poet into a speaker of contemporary Italian, creating a sudden lapse in time.’
    • ‘Ethnicity and location have undergone interesting transmutations in contemporary times.’
    • ‘Do we call this transmutation or transubstantiation?’
    • ‘This transmutation into pole-dancing temptresses doesn't do anything for me.’
    • ‘When punk rock burns brightly, it is capable of amazing feats of transmutation.’
    • ‘Maisie's ‘wondering’ consciousness becomes the medium of a perverse animation, an uncanny crossover or transmutation between animate and inanimate, person and thing.’
    • ‘But that would require another sort of transmutation.’
    • ‘And although she does bring together her diverse selves into an integrated whole, such merging is always subject to further transmutations.’
    • ‘He seeks symbols for his tragic inner transmutations in the external world.’
    • ‘I realise now that my near Jekyll and Hyde transmutation came about insidiously, like a winter's dawn, a consequence of years of tramping the murky corridors of environmental reporting.’
    • ‘In the historical process, the instinctive drive to change or wish to be part of a massive transmutation of identity inevitably leads to codification.’
    • ‘They have formed the basis for the English theatrical tradition, and they continue to find realization in readers' imaginations and, in richly varied transmutations, on the world's stages.’
    • ‘But by now it's too late: the damage done to the original vision by its transmutation into orthodoxy is irreversible.’
    • ‘The transformation, transmutation really, is fascinating.’
    • ‘Of course, I can do multiple transmutations at the same time.’
    • ‘One of the most private of writers, she has also incorporated part of her past in her stories, over and over again in different transmutations.’
    • ‘If you are not aware, there is no change, no transmutation, no movement.’
    • ‘The notion of particularity serves both politically and epistemologically to blur the transmutation of socialism back into capitalism.’
    • ‘Our evaluations after such transmutation will again be merely perspectives, but their point of view will then be affirmative and affirming.’
    change, changing, transformation, turning, altering, metamorphosis, transfiguration, translation, sea change
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    1. 1.1Physics The changing of one element into another by radioactive decay, nuclear bombardment, or similar processes.
      • ‘By 1902 Rutherford and his colleague Frederick Soddy were proposing that a different chemical element is formed whenever a radioactive element decays, a process known as transmutation.’
      • ‘In other words, the radioactive atom has undergone a transmutation from one element to another.’
      • ‘Because isomer weapons would not involve transmutation of nuclear species, they don't come under the rubric of existing nonproliferation treaties.’
      • ‘In 1903, Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy made the astonishing discovery that natural radioactivity involves transmutation.’
      • ‘It's one thing making acid from air and water vapour, quite another for delicate chemical transmutation like this.’
    2. 1.2Biology historical The conversion or transformation of one species into another.
      • ‘So he either has complete fixism of species, or he has transmutation of species.’
      • ‘He had long believed in the transmutation of species, although he did not initially accept the concept of single progenitor ancestor.’
      • ‘The complete transmutation of even one animal species into a different species has never been directly observed either in the laboratory or in the field.’
      • ‘The example cited by you, as proof of beneficial mutations (of bacterial resistance to antibiotics) is irrelevant to the Darwinian explanation of the transmutation of species.’
      • ‘With Darwin we have even more of a puzzle, because we have more evidence in his notebooks on his thoughts about the transmutation of species.’
    3. 1.3 The supposed alchemical process of changing base metals into gold.
      • ‘Alchemical symbolism permeates several of Shakespeare's plays; King Lear in particular has been interpreted as an allegory of alchemical transmutation.’
      • ‘The idea of transmutation through alchemy was one that was taken quite seriously and Dee was granted special rights far beyond someone of his standing.’
      • ‘Among the alchemists's asserted aims were the transmutation of base metals into gold, as well as the preparation of an elixir of longevity and a universal cure for illness.’
      • ‘The principal goal of alchemists was the conversion or transmutation of base metals like lead into gold.’
      • ‘What about psychokinesis, clairvoyance, transmutation, precipitation of matter?’