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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.