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[muh-tas-tuh-sis] /məˈtæs tə sɪs/
noun, plural metastases
[muh-tas-tuh-seez] /məˈtæs təˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
  1. the transference of disease-producing organisms or of malignant or cancerous cells to other parts of the body by way of the blood or lymphatic vessels or membranous surfaces.
  2. the condition produced by this.
transformation (def 3).
Rhetoric. a rapid transition, as from one subject to another.
Physics. a change in position or orbit of an elementary particle.
1580-90; < Greek metástasis a changing. See meta-, stasis
Related forms
[met-uh-stat-ik] /ˌmɛt əˈstæt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
metastatically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for metastases
  • Chemotherapy for brain metastases is not as helpful as surgery or radiation for many types of cancer.
  • Most patients are killed by metastases not by the primary tumor.
  • The agent as currently given makes areas of interest more distinct but usually cannot resolve extremely small metastases.
  • Patients whose cancer moves into the bone tend to survive longer than those with metastases in the liver or lung.
  • Advanced prostate cancer with skeletal metastases entails significant symptoms from both treatment and the disease itself.
British Dictionary definitions for metastases


noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz)
(pathol) the spreading of a disease, esp cancer cells, from one part of the body to another
a transformation or change, as in rhetoric, from one point to another
a rare word for metabolism
Derived Forms
metastatic (ˌmɛtəˈstætɪk) adjective
metastatically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek: transition
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for metastases



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- "over, across" (see meta-) + histanai "to place, cause to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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metastases in Medicine

metastasis me·tas·ta·sis (mə-tās'tə-sĭs)
n. pl. me·tas·ta·ses (-sēz')

  1. Transmission of pathogenic microorganisms or cancerous cells from an original site to one or more sites elsewhere in the body, usually by way of the blood vessels or lymphatics.

  2. A secondary cancerous growth formed by transmission of cancerous cells from a primary growth located elsewhere in the body.

met'a·stat'ic (mět'ə-stāt'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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metastases in Science
A cancerous tumor formed by transmission of malignant cells from a primary cancer located elsewhere in the body.

metastasize verb
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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