metal (n.) Look up metal at
mid-13c., from Old French metal "metal; material, substance, stuff" (12c.), from Latin metallum "metal; mine, quarry, mineral, what is got by mining," from Greek metallon "metal, ore" (senses only in post-classical texts; originally "mine, quarry, pit"), probably from metalleuein "to mine, to quarry," of unknown origin, but related somehow to metallan "to seek after." Compare Greek metalleutes "a miner," metalleia "a searching for metals, mining."
metallic (adj.) Look up metallic at
1560s, from Middle French métallique or directly from Latin metallicus, from Greek metallikos, from metallon (see metal).
metallurgy (n.) Look up metallurgy at
1704, from Modern Latin metallurgia, from Greek metallourgos "worker in metal," from metallon "metal" (see metal) + ergon "work" (from PIE root *werg- "to do"). Related: Metallurgical; metallurgist.
metamathematics (n.) Look up metamathematics at
1890, from meta- "transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of" + mathematics.
metamorphic (adj.) Look up metamorphic at
1833 (Lyell) in the geological sense, in reference to rock whose form has been changed by heat or pressure, from metamorphosis + -ic. Earlier (1816) in non-technical sense "characterized by change."
metamorphism (n.) Look up metamorphism at
1837, from metamorphic + -ism.
metamorphize (v.) Look up metamorphize at
"metamorphose," 1590s, from Greek meta- "change" (see meta-) + morphe "form, shape" (see Morpheus) + -ize. Related: Metamorphized; metamorphizing. Alternative verbal form metamorphosize attested from 1841.
metamorphose (v.) Look up metamorphose at
1570s, from Middle French métamorphoser (16c.), from métamorphose (n.), from Latin metamorphosis (see metamorphosis). Related: Metamorphosed. The Greek verb was metamorphoun.
metamorphosis (n.) Look up metamorphosis at
1530s, "change of form or shape," especially by witchcraft, from Latin metamorphosis, from Greek metamorphosis "a transforming, a transformation," from metamorphoun "to transform, to be transfigured," from meta- "change" (see meta-) + morphe "shape, form" (see Morpheus). Biological sense is from 1660s. As the title of Ovid's work, late 14c., Metamorphoseos, from Latin Metamorphoses (plural).
metanalysis (n.) Look up metanalysis at
1914, from meta- "transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of" + analysis. Coined by Danish philologist Otto Jespersen (1860-1943).
metanoia (n.) Look up metanoia at
1768, "penitence, spiritual conversion," from Greek metanoia "afterthought, repentance," from metanoein "to change one's mind or purpose," from meta- "change" (see meta-) + noein "to have mental perception," from noos "mind, thought."
metaphor (n.) Look up metaphor at
late 15c., from Middle French metaphore (Old French metafore, 13c.), and directly from Latin metaphora, from Greek metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, literally "a carrying over," from metapherein "transfer, carry over; change, alter; to use a word in a strange sense," from meta "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children."
metaphoric (adj.) Look up metaphoric at
1590s, from metaphor + -ic. Greek metaphorikos meant "apt at metaphors."
metaphorical (adj.) Look up metaphorical at
1550s, from metaphor + -ical. Related: metaphorically.
metaphrastic (adj.) Look up metaphrastic at
1778, from Greek metaphrastikos "paraphrastic," from metaphrasis "paraphrase," from metaphrazein "to paraphrase, translate," from meta- "change" (see meta-) + phrazein "to tell, declare, point out, show" (see phrase (n.)). Related: metaphrastically (1570s).
metaphysic (n.) Look up metaphysic at
late 14c., from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). The usual form of metaphysics until 16c.; somewhat revived 19c. under German influence.
metaphysical (adj.) Look up metaphysical at
early 15c., "pertaining to metaphysics," from methaphesik (late 14c.) + -al, and in part from Medieval Latin metaphysicalis, from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). It came to be used in the sense of "abstract, speculative" (among others by Johnson, who applied it to certain 17c. poets, notably Donne and Cowley, who used "witty conceits" and abstruse imagery). Related: Metaphysically.
metaphysician (n.) Look up metaphysician at
1590s, from Middle French métaphysicien (14c.); see metaphysics + -ian.
metaphysics (n.) Look up metaphysics at
1560s, plural of Middle English metaphisik, methaphesik (late 14c.), "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from Medieval Latin metaphysica, neuter plural of Medieval Greek (ta) metaphysika, from Greek ta meta ta physika "the (works) after the Physics," title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." See meta- + physics. The word originally was used in English in the singular; plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under German influence.
metapolitics (n.) Look up metapolitics at
1784, "abstract political science;" see meta- "transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of" + politics. Related: metapolitical, attested from 1670s in sense "outside the realm of politics."
metastasis (n.) Look up metastasis at
1570s, originally in rhetoric, from Late Latin metastasis "transition," from Greek metastasis "a removing, removal; migration; a changing; change, revolution," from methistanai "to remove, change," from meta- "change" (see meta-) + histanai "to place, cause to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." A rhetorical term in Late Latin for "a sudden transition in subjects," medical use for "shift of disease from one part of the body to another" dates from 1660s in English. Related: Metastatic.
metastasise (v.) Look up metastasise at
chiefly British English spelling of metastasize. Related: Metastasised; metastasising.
metastasize Look up metastasize at
1826, from metastasis + -ize. Related: Metastasized; metastasizing.
metatarsal (adj.) Look up metatarsal at
1739, from metatarsus "middle bones of the foot" (1670s), from Modern Latin metatarsus, from meta "between, next after" (see meta-) + tarsus (see tarsus (n.)). As a noun from 1854.
metathesis (n.) Look up metathesis at
1570s, "transposition of letters in a word;" c. 1600, "rhetorical transposition of words," from Late Latin metathesis, from Greek metathesis "change of position, transposition, change of opinion," from stem of metatithenai "to transpose," from meta "change" (see meta-) + tithenai "to place, to set," from reduplicated form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put." Plural is metatheses. Related: Metathetic.
metathesize (v.) Look up metathesize at
1893, from metathesis + -ize. Related: Metathesized; metathesizing.
mete (n.) Look up mete at
"boundary," now only in phrase metes and bounds, late 15c., from Old French mete "limit, bounds, frontier," from Latin meta "goal, boundary, post, pillar."
mete (v.) Look up mete at
"to allot," Old English metan "to measure, mete out; compare, estimate" (class V strong verb; past tense mæt, past participle meten), from Proto-Germanic *metan (source also of Old Saxon metan, Old Frisian, Old Norse meta, Dutch meten, Old High German mezzan, German messen, Gothic mitan "to measure"), from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Used now only with out. Related: Meted; meting.
metempsychosis (n.) Look up metempsychosis at
1580s, "passing of the soul at death into another body," from Late Latin metempsychosis, from Greek metempsychosis, from meta- "change" (see meta-) + empsykhoun "to put a soul into," from en "in" + psyche "soul" (see psyche). Pythagorean word for transmigration of souls at death. Related: Metempsychose (v.), 1590s.
meteor (n.) Look up meteor at
late 15c., "any atmospheric phenomenon," from Middle French meteore (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin meteorum (nominative meteora), from Greek ta meteora "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteoron, literally "thing high up," noun use of neuter of meteoros (adj.) "high up, raised from the ground, hanging," from meta "by means of" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (see aorta).

Specific sense of "fireball, shooting star" is attested from 1590s. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as aerial meteors (wind), aqueous meteors (rain, snow, hail), luminous meteors (aurora, rainbows), and igneous meteors (lightning, shooting stars).
meteoric (adj.) Look up meteoric at
1812, "pertaining to meteors;" earlier "dependent on atmospheric conditions" (1789), from meteor + -ic. Figurative sense of "transiently brilliant" is from 1836.
meteorite (n.) Look up meteorite at
"rock that falls to earth, after streaking across the sky as a meteor," 1818, from meteor + -ite.
meteoroid (n.) Look up meteoroid at
"rock floating in space, which becomes a meteor when it enters Earth's atmosphere," formed in English, 1865, from meteor + -oid.
meteorological (adj.) Look up meteorological at
1560s, from Middle French météorologique or Greek meteorologikos; see meteorology + -ical. Related: Meteorologically.
meteorologist (n.) Look up meteorologist at
1620s, from meteorology + -ist. Earlier was meteorologician (1570s). Greek meteorologos meant "one who deals with celestial phenomena, astronomer."
meteorology (n.) Look up meteorology at
"science of the atmosphere, weather forecasting," 1610s, from French météorologie and directly from Greek meteorologia "treatise on celestial phenomena, discussion of high things," from meteoron, literally "thing high up" (see meteor), + -logia "treatment of" (see -logy).
meter (v.) Look up meter at
"to measure by means of a meter," 1884, from meter (n.3). Meaning "install parking meters" is from 1957.
meter (n.3) Look up meter at
"device for measuring," abstracted 1832 from gas-meter, etc., from French -mètre, used in combinations (in English from 1790), from Latin metrum "measure" or cognate Greek metron "measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure"). Influenced by English meter "person who measures" (late 14c., agent noun from mete (v.)). As short for parking meter from 1960. Meter maid first recorded 1957; meter reader 1963.
meter (n.1) Look up meter at
also metre, "poetic measure," Old English meter "meter, versification," from Latin metrum, from Greek metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure." Possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use) from Old French metre, with specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from Latin metrum.
meter (n.2) Look up meter at
also metre, unit of length, 1797, from French mètre (18c.), from Greek metron "measure," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure." Developed by French Academy of Sciences for system of weights and measures based on a decimal system originated 1670 by French clergyman Gabriel Mouton. Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the length of a quadrant of the meridian.
meth (n.) Look up meth at
colloquial abbreviation of methedrine, attested from 1967.
methadone (n.) Look up methadone at
1947, generic designation for 6-dimethylamino-4, 4-diphenyl-3-heptanone. For origins of the syllables, see methyl + amino + di- + -one.
methamphetamine (n.) Look up methamphetamine at
1949, from methyl + amphetamine; so called because it was a methyl derivative of amphetamine.
methane (n.) Look up methane at
"inflammable colorless and odorless gas, marsh gas," 1867, coined from chemical suffix -ane + syllable abstracted from methyl.
methanol (n.) Look up methanol at
"methyl alcohol," 1892 (adopted that year by the international scientific community), from methyl + -ol, suffix denoting "alcohol."
methaqualone (n.) Look up methaqualone at
hypnotic sedative drug, 1961, from meth(o)- + connecting particle -a- + qu(in)a(zo)lone.
Methedrine (n.) Look up Methedrine at
1939, proprietary name of a brand of methamphetamine (by Wellcome Ltd.); slang abbreviation meth is attested from 1967.
methinks (v.) Look up methinks at
Old English me þyncð "it seems to me," from me (pron.), dative of I, + þyncð, third person singular of þyncan "to seem," reflecting the Old English distinction between þyncan "to seem" and related þencan "to think," which bedevils modern students of the language (see think). The two thinks were constantly confused, then finally merged, in Middle English. Related: Methought.
method (n.) Look up method at
early 15c., "regular, systematic treatment of disease," from Latin methodus "way of teaching or going," from Greek methodos "scientific inquiry, method of inquiry, investigation," originally "pursuit, a following after," from meta "in pursuit or quest of" (see meta-) + hodos "a method, system; a way or manner" (of doing, saying, etc.), also "a traveling, journey," literally "a path, track, road," a word of uncertain origin. Meaning "way of doing anything" is from 1580s; that of "orderliness, regularity" is from 1610s. In reference to a theory of acting associated with Russian director Konstantin Stanislavsky, it is attested from 1923.
methodical (adj.) Look up methodical at
1560s, with -al (1) and methodic (1540s), from Middle French methodique, from Late Latin methodicus, from Greek methodikos, from methodos (see method). Related: Methodically.