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permutation (n.)

late 14c., permutacioun, "interchange, concurrent change; exchange of one thing, position, condition, etc., for another," from Old French permutacion "change, shift" (14c.), from Latin permutationem (nominative permutatio) "a change, alteration, revolution," noun of action from past participle stem of permutare "change thoroughly, exchange," from per "thoroughly" (see per) + mutare "to change" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"). The sense of "a linear arrangement of objects resulting from a change of their order" is by 1710, originally in mathematics.

Permutation differs from combination in this, that in the latter there is no reference to the order in which the quantities are combined, whereas in the former this order is considered, and consequently the number of permutations always exceeds the number of combinations. [Century Dictionary]

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Definitions of permutation from WordNet

permutation (n.)
an event in which one thing is substituted for another;
permutation (n.)
the act of changing the arrangement of a given number of elements;
permutation (n.)
complete change in character or condition; "the permutations...taking place in the physical world"- Henry Miller;
permutation (n.)
act of changing the lineal order of objects in a group;
From wordnet.princeton.edu