Figure Name metastasis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Macbeth (1876); Peacham (1593); De Mille (1882); Bullinger (1898) ("metastasis; or, counter-blame")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms transmotionem, the flitting figure or remove, change of tense. counter-blame, translatio
Etymology Gk. meta, "beyond, over" and stasis, "a standing or placing"
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Denying and turning back on your adversaries arguments used against you. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Metastasis is the change of the tenses, as when, every where in Caesar's "Commentaries," the present is used for the past; and thus we feel carried back to the occasion, and spears shiver once more, and warcars gleam by, and the trumpet sounds the charge, as the Rhone or the Rhine or the Arar sweep on. (Macbeth)

3. Metastasis is a forme of speech by which we turne back those thinges that are objected against us, to them which laid them to us. (Peacham)

14. Another kind of description similar to vision is called "metastasis," and involved a transition from the present to the future. (De Mille)

5. A transferring of the Blame from one's self to another... The Figure is so called because it is a transferring of blame from one person or thing to another. (Bullinger, 933)


1. And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. —1 Kings 18:17-18 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Let our friend Sam Slick supply us with a metastasis, or change of tense. His subject, how great a one - widdahs:
"Widows are the very mischief! There's nothing like 'em. If they make up their minds to marry, it's done. I knew one that was terribly afraid of thunder and lightning, and every time a storm came on she runs into Mr.Smith's house (Mr. Smith was a widower), and clasps her little hands, and flies around like a hen with her head cut off, till the man was half distracted for fear she would be killed; and the consequence was, she was Mrs. John Smith before three thunder-storms had rattled over her head. How many thunder-storms they had after that, I don't exactly know." (Macbeth)

3. When Antony charged Cicero that he was the cause of civill war raised betweene Pompeius and Caesar, Cicero rebounded the same accusation againe to Antony, saing: Thou Marcus Antony, thou I say gavest to Caesar (willing to turne all upside downe) cause to make war against thy countrey. (Peacham)

3. When Ahab likewise charged Eha, that it was he which troubled all Israel, nay saith Eha it is not I that trouble Israel, but thou and thy fathers house, in that you have forsaken the commandements of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baal. (Peacham)

5. 1 Kings 18:17, 18. -"When Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house," etc. (Bullinger, 933)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures figures of refutation, figures of syntax, enallage
Notes Why do the definitions differ so greatly? Is Macbeth's "metastasis" a misspelling of another figure? -sam
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No