1 [mee-tuh]
noun, plural metae [mee-tee] .
(in ancient Rome) a column or post, or a group of columns or posts, placed at each end of a racetrack to mark the turning places.

1570–80; < Latin mēta cone, turning post Unabridged


2 [met-uh] .
adjective Chemistry.
pertaining to or occupying two positions (1, 3) in the benzene ring that are separated by one carbon atom.
Compare ortho, para3.

1875–80; independent use of meta-


3 [met-uh] .
pertaining to or noting a story, conversation, character, etc., that consciously references or comments upon its own subject or features, often in the form of parody: A movie about making a movie is just so meta—especially when the actors criticize the acting.
pertaining to or noting an abstract, high-level analysis or commentary, especially one that consciously references something of its own type.
a consciously and playfully self-referential story, conversation, etc.: That dialogue was an example of meta at its best.
an abstract, high-level analysis or commentary: writing a meta to explain the character’s motivation.
verb (used without object)
to analyze or comment on something in a meta way: I spend more time metaing about the show than actually watching it.


[mee-tuh] .
a female given name.


a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, with the meanings “after,” “along with,” “beyond,” “among,” “behind,” and productive in English on the Greek model: metacarpus; metagenesis.
a prefix added to the name of a subject and designating another subject that analyzes the original one but at a more abstract, higher level: metaphilosophy; metalinguistics.
a prefix added to the name of something that consciously references or comments upon its own subject or features: a meta-painting of an artist painting a canvas.
(of acids, salts, or their organic derivatives) a prefix denoting the least hydrated of a series: meta-antimonic, HSbO3; meta-antimonous, HSbO2. Compare ortho-, pyro-.
a prefix designating the meta position in the benzene ring. Abbreviation: m-. Compare ortho-, para-1.
Also, especially before a vowel, met-.

< Greek, prefix and preposition; cognate with Old English mid ‘with’, German mit, Gothic mith Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
Meta (ˈmeɪtə, Spanish ˈmeta)
a river in Colombia, rising in the Andes and flowing northeast and east, forming part of the border between Colombia and Venezuela, to join the Orinoco River. Length: about 1000 km (620 miles)

meta- or (sometimes before a vowel) met-
1.  indicating change, alteration, or alternation: metabolism; metamorphosis
2.  See also metatheory (of an academic discipline, esp philosophy) concerned with the concepts and results of the named discipline: metamathematics; meta-ethics
3.  occurring or situated behind or after: metaphase
4.  (often in italics) ortho- Compare para- m- denoting that an organic compound contains a benzene ring with substituents in the 1,3-positions: metadinitrobenzene; meta-cresol
5.  denoting an isomer, polymer, or compound related to a specified compound (often differing from similar compounds that are prefixed by para-): metaldehyde
6.  Compare ortho- denoting an oxyacid that is a lower hydrated form of the anhydride or a salt of such an acid: metaphosphoric acid
[Greek, from meta with, after, between, among. Compare Old English mid, mith with, Old Norse meth with, between]
met- or (sometimes before a vowel) met-
[Greek, from meta with, after, between, among. Compare Old English mid, mith with, Old Norse meth with, between]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Main Entry:  meta
Part of Speech:  adj
Definition:  self-referential; referring to itself or its characteristics, esp. as a parody; about
Example:  That book is so meta.
Etymology:  meta 'beyond'
Main Entry:  meta
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  something with refers to itself, esp. in self-parodying manner
Example:  A movie-within-a-movie is an example of meta.
Etymology:  meta 'beyond''s 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin & History

prefix meaning 1. "after, behind," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond," from Gk. meta (prep.) "in the midst of, in common with, by means of, in pursuit or quest of," from PIE *me- "in the middle" (cf. Goth. miþ, O.E. mið "with, together with, among;" see
mid). Notion of "changing places with" probably led to senses "change of place, order, or nature," which was a principal meaning of the Gk. word when used as a prefix (but also denoting "community, participation; in common with; pursuing"). Third sense, "higher than, transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of," is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics as "science of that which transcends the physical." This has led to a prodigious erroneous extension in modern usage, with meta- affixed to the names of other sciences and disciplines, especially in the academic jargon of literary criticism, which affixes it to just about anything that moves and much that doesn't.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

meta- or met-

  1. Later in time: metestrus.

  2. At a later stage of development: metanephros.

  3. Situated behind: metacarpus.

  4. Change; transformation: metachromatism.

  5. Alternation: metagenesis.

  6. Beyond; transcending; more comprehensive: metapsychology.

  7. At a higher state of development: metazoan.

  8. Having undergone metamorphosis: metamyelocyte.

  9. Derivative or related chemical substance: metaprotein.

  10. Abbr. m- Of or relating to one of three possible isomers of a benzene ring with two attached chemical groups, in which the carbon atoms with attached groups are separated by one unsubstituted carbon atom. Usually used in italic: meta-dibromobenzene.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Computing Dictionary

META definition

The assembly language for the CYBER 200, developed at CDC ca 1977.
[CDC Pub 60256020].
[Jargon File]

meta definition

/me't*/ or /may't*/ or (Commonwealth) /mee't*/ A prefix meaning one level of description higher. If X is some concept then meta-X is data about, or processes operating on, X.
For example, a metasyntax is syntax for specifying syntax, metalanguage is a language used to discuss language, meta-data is data about data, and meta-reasoning is reasoning about reasoning.
This is difficult to explain briefly, but much hacker humour turns on deliberate confusion between meta-levels.
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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