1530s, "change of form or structure, action or process of changing in form," originally especially by witchcraft, from Latin metamorphosis, from Greek metamorphōsis "a transforming, a transformation," from metamorphoun "to transform, to be transfigured," from meta, here indicating "change" (see meta-) + morphē "shape, form," a word of uncertain etymology.
The biological sense of "extensive transformations an animal (especially an insect) undergoes after it leaves the egg" is from 1660s. As the title of Ovid's work, late 14c., Metamorphoseos, from Latin Metamorphoses (plural).
as a noun, in biology, "genetic variant of an animal," 1955; as a verb, in cinematic special effects, c. 1987, short for metamorphosis. Related: Morphed; morphing. Earlier it was a slang shortening of morphine (1912).
"to change into a different form, alter or modify the shape or character of," 1570s, from French métamorphoser (16c.), from métamorphose (n.), from Latin metamorphosis (see metamorphosis). Related: Metamorphosed. The Greek verb was metamorphoun.
1833 (Lyell) in the geological sense, "exhibiting change in form or structure," in reference to rock whose form has been changed by heat or pressure, from Greek meta "trans-" (see meta-) + morphē "form," a word of uncertain origin. Earlier (1816) in a theological sense, "characterized by change of form," from metamorphosis + -ic.
late 14c., from Old French transmutacion "transformation, change, metamorphosis" (12c.), from Late Latin transmutationem (nominative transmutatio) "a change, shift," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin transmutare "change from one condition to another," from trans "across, beyond; thoroughly" (see trans-) + mutare "to change" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"). A word from alchemy.