views updated Jun 11 2018


"Cold things warm up, the hot cools off, wet becomes dry, dry becomes wet," observes Heracleitus (fr. 126), as if to state an obvious fact. Yet this fact became highly troublesome to early philosophers.


Although his predecessors had theories to account for natural changes, Heracleitus (c. 540c. 480 b.c.e.) seems to be the first Western thinker to raise philosophical questions about change itself. According to Plato, Heracleitus held that (1) all things are changing, and (2) comparing life to a river, he claimed that one could not step twice into the same river (Cratylus 402a). On the basis of these two theses Plato draws the conclusion that (3) Heracleitus maintained that contradictory propositions were true (Theaetetus 182183). In fact, Heracleitus seems to have held a more defensible, if still radical, view. Plato probably derives (1) and (2) directly from Heracleitus fr. 12: "On those stepping into the same rivers, other and other waters flow." Instead of saying the rivers are different, Heracleitus says they are the samein contrast to the waters that comprise them. From this and other fragments we can extract a theory that although there is constant change in the materials of the world, stable structures supervene on them. Indeed, Heracleitus seems to imply that if there were not constant exchanges of matter, the structures would not exist; for instance, if the water ceased to flow, the river would cease to be.

The Eleatic challenge.

In contrast to Heracleitus, Parmenides (b. c. 515 b.c.e.) of Elea (possibly reacting to Heracleitus, though this is controversial) denies the possibility of change. Rejecting the way "that it is not" because what-is-not could not be uttered (fr. 2), Parmenides rules out whatever properties rely on not-being. Since coming to be or perishing presuppose a time when something is not, they are not allowed, and similarly motion (in place?) is to be rejected (fr. 8). Parmenides enumerates several kinds of change: "coming to be and perishing, being and not being, changing place and exchanging bright color" (fr. 8.4041). He seems to reject all of these as impossible. Parmenides' argument presents a problem often called the "Eleatic challenge": how can what-is come from what-is-not? The challenge poses a direct threat to cosmogony, the standard kind of pre-Socratic theory. After Parmenides, most cosmological theories posited the existence of a plurality of continuing materials that were individually supposed to be everlasting, for instance the four elements of Empedocles (c. 490c. 430 b.c.e.): earth, water, air, and fire. Thus cosmologists could claim that they did not allow coming to be or perishing of the ultimate realities, but only a harmless rearrangement of them. Nonetheless, Parmenides' argument seems to rule out not only coming to be and perishing, but all other kinds of change as well, and also to preclude a plurality of existences. Reinforced and sharpened by Zeno of Elea (c. 495c. 430 b.c.e.) and Melissus of Samos (5th c. b.c.e.), the Eleatic challenge seems to have gone unanswered for more than a century.

Plato's response.

Perhaps influenced by the lectures of Cratylus (a follower of Heracleitus), Plato (c. 428348 or 347 b.c.e.) attributes a radical flux to the world of sensible things: they are always changing and never completely stable. If sensible things were the only existing things, knowledge and even discourse about the world would be impossible. But there is another world of changeless realities, the Forms, which provide a stable structure for sensible things, referents for language, and objects for knowledge. Forms, such as Justice and Equality, and perhaps Bed, have Parmenidean properties but no Heracleitean properties. Thus Plato creates a two-world theory, in which Heracleitean change of sensible things is tempered by Parmenidean constancy of ideal things. In his later work, Plato even posits a Form of Motion and another of Rest as ultimate kinds in which all sensible things participate (Sophist 254d). Unfortunately, a Form of Motion does not allow for any analysis of different kinds of motion or of different stages within a motion. Plato claims that the ultimate source of orderly motion is soul, which is immortal and self-moving (Phaedrus 245ce).


Aristotle (384322 b.c.e.) provides the first systematic study of change. He maintains that only primary substances can survive a change of one property to its opposite, implying that changes are variations in properties over time (Categories 5). He distinguishes several types of change by the kind of entity involved: coming-to-be and its opposite perishing (change in the category of substance), alteration (change of quality), increase and decrease (change of quantity), and locomotion (change of place) (ibid. 14). In Physics I, he sets out to answer the Eleatic challenge. Observing that changes always involve a subject changing from one opposite state to another, he generalizes this scheme to the most problematic case: that of change in substance. Even in this case there is some continuing subject for a change from one state to its opposite, as in the case of bronze, which goes from being unformed to being formed (in a statue). Similarly, there is some continuing sub-stratum for something going from being not-human to human; the substratum for substantial change can be called matter (e.g., bronze), the negative state the privation (e.g., not-formed), the positive state the form (e.g., formed). On this model, though the final object comes from what-is-not, it does not come from nothing: the negative state is not nonexistence, but characterizes something that is, e.g., the bronze. "What-is-not" is seen to pick out not-F, and to presuppose a matter m, and not to refer to nothing at all. The Eleatic challenge rests on a mistake.

Aristotle sets out the circumstances of change as follows: a cause of motion M causes an object O to change from condition (place, property, etc.) C 1 to C 2 between times t 1 and t 2 (Physics V 1). In those cases in which O does not come to be or perish (undergo change of substance), the change is a motion. We may identify the circumstances with identity conditions: two changes are the same just in case they have the same mover, object, initial and final conditions, and beginning and ending times.

Not satisfied with a general definition and defense of change, Aristotle seeks to identify its place in the cosmos. Some things are always in motion (e.g., the heavenly bodies), some always at rest (e.g., the earth), and some things are at different times in motion and at rest (e.g., animals). Because there can be no beginning of time, but time is only the measure of regular motion, there must always have been cosmic motion. The only kind of motion that can be everlasting is locomotion in a circle (seen in the heavenly bodies). Such everlasting motion is only possible if there is some unmoved entity that causes the motion (Physics VIII). This is the first unmoved mover, which acts as a final cause, so that the heavenly bodies try to imitate its perfect (but motionless) actuality. Aristotle assumes that motion needs some sort of explanation, and everlasting motion needs an everlasting cause.

Christian Platonism.

Throughout late antiquity and the Middle Ages, Platonic and Aristotelian concepts of change continued to provide the standard account. There is, however, one important departure from classical theories that early Christian thinkers made: beginning in the second century c.e. they began to claim that God created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing), contrary to the classical notion expressed by Parmenides that what-is could not come from what-is-not. The Creation was a miraculous event caused by an omnipotent God.

Later Platonists interpreted Plato as saying that there was a simple and perfect One from which Mind (including the Platonic Forms) emanated; from Mind, Soul emanated, and from Soul, matter. Emanation was a kind of ontological overflowing according to which one being gave of its fullness to produce a lower-level being; the lower being proceeds from the higher in a timeless way such that the lower is always in existence, but dependent on the higher. Temporal distinctions are found only in the lower beings, so that the One and Mind are not in time and hence not subject to change.

In Christian Platonism, both ex nihilo creation and a changeless deity are combined with a historical account of God's interaction with the world, as in St. Augustine of Hippo's (354430) City of God. Paradoxically, a changeless God interacts with changeable mortals to produce the drama of human salvation.

Modern Era

In the modern era a fundamental reorientation in the theory of motion occurred when the principle of inertia was recognized. Put forth first by René Descartes (15961650) and Pierre Gassendi (15921655), and canonized by Isaac Newton (16421727) as his first law, the principle stated that a body in uniform straight motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Thus the physicist did not need to explain continued motion. Moreover, since Newton's law of gravity could account for elliptical motions of satellites around a massive body, there was no longer any need for an unmoved mover to maintain the cosmic order. The kind of kinetic change that needed to be explained was acceleration, which depended on the application of a force to the moving body. John Locke (16321704) identified motion and rest as primary qualities whose ideas resembled the originals; colors and the like were secondary qualities whose ideas did not resemble the originals. Increasingly, motion in place came to be seen as the fundamental kind of change, which accounted for all other kinds.

History and physics.

Up until the nineteenth century, the study of history had been of little interest to philosophers. Aristotle had said that history was less philosophical than poetry, because it dealt with the particular rather than the universal. But when Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (17701831) explained the development of consciousness as a dialectical progression leading to ever more comprehensive concepts, he made history vitally important to philosophy. In particular the history of thought seemed to reflect the growth of spirit, exemplifying the realization of freedom and self-consciousness. An understanding of the development of culture and human institutions was now indispensable for philosophy. Historical change was essential to human self-realization. Becoming was the fulfillment of the concepts of being and not-being.

Although the historicist idealism launched by Hegel was highly influential, it eventually occasioned a strong reaction in England. One of the leading critics of idealism, Bertrand Russell (18721970), argued against "internal relations" by which every event was necessarily connected with every other. Instead, he proposed that the world consisted of a set of independent facts. Change itself could be defined in terms of propositions: "Change is the difference, in respect of truth or falsehood, between a proposition concerning an entity and a time T, and a proposition concerning the same entity and another time T (, provided that the two propositions differ only by the fact that T occurs in one where T (occurs in the other" (sec. 442). Thus if "Socrates is literate at T " is false and "Socrates is literate at T (" is true for the times 465 b.c.e. and 450 b.c.e., respectively, we can infer a change. Against Russell, John M. E. M'Taggart (18661925) has argued that we should distinguish between an "A series" of events ordered with respect to past, present, and future, and a "B series" ordered with respect to before and after; only the former entails the existence (the flow) of time, since the latter involves only a fixed sequence of determinate events. But the A series produces contradiction, since every event is allegedly past, present, and future, that is, has incompatible predicates. Thus the A series is incoherent, and consequently there is no time and hence no change. Yet one can reply that the B series provides an adequate basis for time and change, and that the predicates past, present, and future are no more incompatible than taller and shorter: they are incomplete predicates, which, when properly completed for a given subject, would not produce a contradiction: "past with respect to time T 3 [or event E 3, etc.]," "present with respect to T 2," "future with respect to T 1." The kinds of changes described by Russell's and M'Taggart's accounts (sometimes called "Cambridge changes") have been criticized as too weak: a statement about a subject can change truth value with the subject's undergoing any alteration. For instance, I become shorter than my son when he grows taller than I, even though my stature does not change. Russell could reply that his account is meant only to identify some change in the world, not to analyze the subject of that change. In any case, we seem to need a richer account than Russell's to analyze the structure of change itself.

Advances in physics have affected views of the place of change in the world. Whereas Newtonian physics saw motion and rest as interchangeable phenomena seen from different frames of reference, the Theory of Relativity puts a limit on speed (the speed of light) and makes time a fourth dimension on a par with the three dimensions of space. Space, time, and mass all became relative quantities, and acceleration ceased to provide a necessary condition of change. At a quantum level, some particles have properties of both bodies and waves, and subatomic particles seem to be packets of energy. New theories such as String Theory suggest that subatomic particles are states of multidimensional strings of energy. Alfred North Whitehead (18611947) drew on early-twentieth-century physics to develop a speculative metaphysics positing processes rather than things as the ultimate realities. His style of philosophy, however, has gone out of favor, and in the late twentieth century philosophers tended to study change in trying to specify identity conditions for events.

See also Cycles ; History, Idea of ; Physics ; Relativity ; Time .


Gill, Mary Louise, and James G. Lennox, eds. Self-Motion: From Aristotle to Newton. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Lombard, Lawrence Brian. Events: A Metaphysical Study. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986.

McTaggart, John McTaggart Ellis. The Nature of Existence. 2 vols. Edited by C. D. Broad. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 19211927.

Russell, Bertrand. The Principles of Mathematics. 2nd ed. London: Allen and Unwin, 1937.

Sorabji, Richard. Matter, Space, and Motion: Theories in Antiquity and Their Sequel. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Waterlow, Sarah. Nature, Change, and Agency in Aristotle's Physics: A Philosophical Study. Oxford: Clarendon, 1982.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. New York: Macmillan, 1929.

Daniel W. Graham


views updated Jun 11 2018


The psychic changes observable during psychoanalytic treatment involve two distinct processes. First, the therapeutic process applies to symptoms, personality traits, and behaviors amenable to transformation. Second, the psychoanalytic process applies to how the experience created by the analytic setting and the rules of technique is lived out. The articulation of these two processes defines the question of change in psychoanalysis.

Without ever acquiring a specific conceptual status, the idea of change has been the focus of continual questioning since the beginning of psychoanalysis. As pointed out by Daniel Widlöcher (1970), it is easily traced in Sigmund Freud's work. As early as their preliminary communication of 1893, which served to introduce their Studies on Hysteria (1895d), Freud and Breuer established both the modus operandi of the cathartic treatment of hysteria and the idea that the mechanism of treating the symptom is the reverse of the mechanism of its formation. The recollection of an event and its affective charge spark a process that reverses the pathogenic process brought about by repression. From that point on and indeed throughout the rest of his work, Freud drew on his observation of resistances to change to modify, deepen, and refine his model of change. Three moments mark the beginnings of psychoanalysis: the development of the rules of technique, the shift in focus from trauma theory to the role of fantasy, and the introduction of the concept of change in the form of libidinal development. Here we have an indication of the importance of a model of change to psychoanalysis.

Freud's discovery of the extent and importance of the transference between 1904 and 1910 introduced a new model of change, which is particularly well explained in his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-1917a [1915-1917]). Transference affects the processes of change in several ways. It is an obstacle used by resistance, and it hinders the processes of association and remembering by encouraging repetition through acting out. But it is also a lever for therapeutic transformation, because the patient cathects with the therapist and this reveals features of past attachments and conflicts. Above all, repetition in the transference leads the patient to externalize a conflicted intrapsychic structure and displace it onto the relationship with the analyst. This is the origin of the tripartite therapeutic model of clinical neurosis, transference neurosis, and infantile neurosis.

Beginning in the 1920s, growing doubts about the therapeutic effectiveness of psychoanalysis led Freud to make two basic theoretical revisions. First, he introduced the dualism of the life and death instincts to account for the force of the compulsion for repetition as compared with the inertia of libidinal-object choice. The second revision was based on a more diversified analysis of the processes of resistance to change, which allowed Freud, in "Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety" (1926d [1925]), to differentiate the resistances of the id, the ego, and the superegoa distinction made possible by the new structural model but also strengthened the clinical effectiveness of treatment. On this basis Freud constructed a third model, which he formulated in a binary manner: "Where id was, there ego shall be," he wrote in "New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis" (1933a [1932], p. 80). In "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (1937c), Freud offered a more modest version of this formulation, evoking a kind of to-and-fro between ego analysis and id analysis. He was also careful to recall the bases of resistance to change (libidinal viscosity, the repetition compulsion, and also penis envy in women and masculine protest in men).

Throughout his work, in fact, Freud emphasized the study of resistances. In "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (1937c), he emphasized, "Instead of an enquiry into how a cure by analysis comes about (a matter which I think has been sufficiently elucidated) the question should be asked of what are the obstacles that stand in the way of such a cure" (p. 221).

Have developments in psychoanalytic thinking since Freud followed through on this recommendation? Probably in part, even though the various theories have focused chiefly on their respective models of change. The development of many different schools of thought after Freud owes a great deal to modifications of technique (though only in close association with the work of interpretation) and, in the final analysis, to theoretical approaches that seek to specify the articulations between a pathological model, a developmental model, and a model of change through treatment. Yet all schools of psychoanalysis have based themselves on theoretical and clinical elements already present in Freud's work. Rather than an expression of allegiance, this is a consequence of the fact that Freud's theory of change (and the different models successively added to it) covers a very complex reality, of which the various schools have tried to specify a particular portion.

It is worth drawing out a few main themes of these schools, though without reviewing the technical and theoretical frameworks of each (which are rarely presented in connection with the processes of change and resistance to change). The first theme concerns the psychoanalyst's involvement in the process of change. The idea of a neutral therapist, whose "noninvolvement" ensures the necessary capacity for listening and interpretation, has given way to an ever narrower focus on the analyst's mental efforts and role in change. This trend, already well underway in Sándor Ferenczi's innovations in technique, is evident in studies of the role of counter-transference by Paula Meimann and Heinrich Racker, and is currently being developed around the concepts of interaction, empathy (Ralph Greenson, Heinz Kohut), and "co-thinking" (Widlöcher).

Rather different from the foregoing is the narrative or constructivist tendency. This trend includes the otherwise varied approaches of Jacques Lacan, Roy Schafer, and Serge Viderman, all of whom in their respective ways emphasized how the work of interpretation is constructive.

Another theme is the mechanisms of externalization and internalization. Authors here have returned to the model of transference neurosis to show how pathological structures are displaced in the therapeutic relationship. Often abandoning the classical model of neurosis, these authors (including Melanie Klein and her students, as well as object-relations theorists) describe more archaic processes that become amenable to analysis once they are externalized in the transference.

A third approach stresses the reparative function of the process of change. Change is expected to affect choices of libidinal objects. This trend develops the Freudian idea of the "revision of the process" by placing considerable emphasis on the emotions and the psychoanalyst's containing function. Such authors as Michael Balint, Donald Winnicott, and Wilfred R. Bion, very different in other respects, belong to this trend.

Other dimensions of change could, of course, be taken into consideration. The most important thing, perhaps, is to identify the reasons for the various divergences on the nature of psychic change and their impact on the activity and future development of the institutions of psychoanalysis. The problem is less one of justifying the existence of several models (which, as noted earlier, has to do with the complexity of the processes involved) than of explaining the reasons for theoretical choices. Clearly, the extension of psychoanalytic treatment to a broader range of cases and the application of psychoanalysis to serious pathologies have had a decisive impact on evolving ideas about change. Will this trend toward disparate models of psychic change continue? If not, what other trend will supplant it? What role will planned research studies, which tend to objectify certain data, play at a time when psychoanalysts are increasingly being held accountable for treatment choices, their effectiveness, and their cost?

Daniel WidlÖcher

See also: Adolescent crisis; Autoplastic; Catastrophic change; Cure; Depersonalization; Ego autonomy; Female sexuality; Mutative interpretation; Narcissistic withdrawal; Object, change of/choice of.


Freud, Sigmund. (1916-1917a [1915-1917]). Introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. SE, 15-16.

. (1926d [1925]). Inhibitions, symptoms, and anxiety. SE, 20: 75-172.

. (1933a [1932]). New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. SE, 22: 1-182.

. (1937c). Analysis terminable and interminable. SE, 23: 209-253.

, & Breuer, Josef. (1893a). On the psychical mechanism of hysterical phenomina: Preliminary communication. SE, 2: 1-17.

Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.

Widlöcher, Daniel. (1970). Freud et le problème du changement. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.


views updated May 29 2018

change, social change One of the central problems of sociology. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the first attempts at sociological analysis were prompted by the need to explain two great waves of change that were sweeping across Europe: namely, industrialization, and the expansion of democracy and human rights in the wake of the American and French Revolutions. Auguste Comte, in his theory of social dynamics, proposed that societies progressed through a series of predictable stages based on the development of human knowledge. Herbert Spencer offered a theory of change that was evolutionary, based on population growth and structural differentiation. Karl Marx contended that the most significant social changes were revolutionary in nature, and were brought about by the struggle for supremacy between economic classes. The general tendency of nineteenth-century theories of social change was towards historicism and utopianism.

This century, theories of social change have proliferated and become more complex, without ever wholly transcending these early formulations. In the modern world we are aware that society is never static, and that social, political, and cultural changes occur constantly. Change can be initiated by governments, through legislative or executive action (for example, legislating for equal pay or declaring a war); by citizens organized in social movements (for example trade unionism, feminism); by diffusion from one culture to another (as in military conquest, migration, colonialism); or by the intended or unintended consequences of technology. Some of the most dramatic social changes in modern times have been initiated by such inventions as the motor car, antibiotics, television, and computers. Change can also come through the impact of environmental factors such as drought, famine, and international shifts in economic or political advantage.

Sociologists have explored the question of change largely by the close analysis of particular change processes, and by refining definitions. Social change theories now encompass a very broad range of phenomena, including short-term and long-term, large-scale and small-scale changes, from the level of global society to the level of the family. Dramatic structural and economic changes such as occurred in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s are only one part of the field. Sociologists are also interested in changes that affect norms, values, behaviour, cultural meanings, and social relationships.

One legacy of Saint-Simon and Comte, as refracted through the work of Émile Durkheim, is the theory of functionalism associated with the names of Talcott Parsons and Wilbert E. Moore. If society is viewed as a complex and interconnected pattern of functions, change can be explained as an epiphenomenon of the constant search for equilibrium. For example, mass unemployment may generate a welfare system, or racial conflict may generate legislative action. The ramifications of any particular social change are endless and unpredictable, but all can be understood as social adjustments to some failure or ‘dysfunction’ within the social organism.

A systematic functionalist attempt to specify the structural determinants of change can be found in the work of the American sociologist Neil J. Smelser. In an empirical study of Social Change in the Industrial Revolution (1959), he analysed the interrelationship between the growth and organization of the cotton industry and the structure of the family, during the industrialization process in nineteenth-century England. In this early work, a model is proposed to explain the differentiation of social systems, based on an analysis of the way in which these two particular systems responded to forces for change. In his subsequent writings, for example Theory of Collective Behaviour (1963), Smelser both refined this model and applied it to a variety of types of collective action. He conceptualizes social change as a ‘value-added’ process, in which a number of conditions or stages are sequentially combined, before eventually producing a particular social change. This approach minimalizes, but does not wholly ignore, the more proximate causes of social change. A good summary can be found in the essay ‘Toward a General Theory of Social Change’ (in his Essays in Sociological Explanation, 1968)
. More recently, his theory of social change has been applied in a study of working-class education in England, in Social Paralysis and Social Change (1991).

Herbert Spencer's evolutionary view of change has its modern descendant in the discipline of sociobiology. Researchers like Edward O. Wilson have presented a view of society that stresses adaptation, but locates the process far more deeply in our genetic inheritance. Sociobiologists argue that we humans are—individually and socially—products of millions of years of adaptive survival strategies. A society can change in positive (adaptive) or negative (non-adaptive) ways, and these choices will seal its fate: thus welfare, or affirmative action, or deficit spending might be good for some, but bad for all. Social survival is the key to the consequences, if not to the purposes, of social change.

The functionalist, evolutionary, and sociobiological conceptions of social change all have conservative implications, in so far as they stress the needs of society, and the protection of a stable status quo above the desires of individuals.

The Marxist and conflict theory traditions have developed along different lines, although they share important underlying assumptions with functionalism. The Marxist theory of change is more pro-active, focusing on the ability of human beings to influence their own fates through political action. Conflict theories in general—not necessarily Marxist—explain social change as the outcome of a struggle for advantage between classes, races, or other groups, rather than a search for consensus. Daniel Bell's Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976) gives an interesting turn to the conflict perspective by suggesting that change in the modern world arises out of the tension between three ‘realms’ of social reality which operate on different principles and move towards different goals: the techno-economic structure (science, industry, and the economy); the political system; and culture. Nineteenth-century theorists saw change as a total, homogeneous process, where every aspect of society would change together. We now know that, as Bell's model suggests, change is often uneven and partial.

Cultural lag is a commonly observed phenomenon, where the development of culture falls out of step with developments in technology, politics, or economics.

The problems presented by the empirical study of social change are formidable. Historical data are invariably incomplete or biased, and long-term studies of ongoing change are expensive and difficult. Official statistics, repeated surveys (like the Harris or Gallup Polls), and panel studies are among the tools the student of social change must use.

The nineteenth-century equation of change with progress is no longer widely accepted. Change may be regressive, or destructive, or confused by cultural lag. Ulrich Beck's account of the emergence of ‘reflexive modernization’ states that advanced industrial societies are increasingly characterized by ‘manufactured uncertainty’ or risk. It remains an open question to what extent sociologists can explain or predict social change, and therefore to what extent societies can ever reliably initiate or control change in directions deemed socially desirable, or in any direction at all.


views updated May 29 2018

change / chānj/ • v. 1. make or become different: [tr.] a proposal to change the law | [intr.] a Virginia creeper just beginning to change from green to gold. ∎  make or become a different substance entirely; transform: [tr.] filters change the ammonia into nitrate | [intr.] computer graphics can show cars changing into cheetahs. ∎  [intr.] alter in terms of: the ferns began to change shape. ∎  [intr.] (of traffic lights) move from one color of signal to another. ∎  (of a boy's voice) become deeper with the onset of puberty. ∎  [intr.] (of the moon) arrive at a fresh phase; become new.2. [tr.] take or use another instead of: she decided to change her name. ∎  move from one to another: she changed jobs. ∎  exchange; trade: the sun and moon changed places. ∎  [intr.] move to a different train, airplane, or subway line. ∎  give up (something) in exchange for something else: we changed the shades for vertical blinds. ∎  remove (something dirty or faulty) and replace it with another of the same kind: change a light bulb. ∎  put a clean diaper on (a baby or young child). ∎  engage a different gear in a motor vehicle: [tr.] wait for a gap and then change gears. ∎  exchange (a sum of money) for the same amount in smaller denominations or in coins, or for different currency. ∎  [intr.] put different clothes on: he changed for dinner.• n. 1. the act or instance of making or becoming different: environmental change. ∎  the substitution of one thing for another: a change of venue. ∎  an alteration or modification: a change came over Eddie's face. ∎  a new or refreshingly different experience: couscous makes an interesting change from rice. ∎  [in sing.] a clean garment or garments as a replacement for clothes one is wearing: a change of socks. ∎  (the change or the change of life) inf. menopause. ∎  the moon's arrival at a fresh phase, typically at the new moon.2. coins as opposed to paper currency. ∎  money given in exchange for the same amount in larger denominations. ∎  money returned to someone as the balance of the amount paid for something.3. (usu. changes) an order in which a peal of bells can be rung.PHRASES: change hands (of a business or building) pass to a different owner. ∎  (of money or a marketable commodity) pass to another person during a business transaction.change one's mind adopt a different opinion or plan.a change of heart a move to a different opinion or attitude.change the subject begin talking about something different, esp. to avoid embarrassment or the divulgence of confidences.change one's tune1. express a different opinion or behave in a different way.2. change one's style of language or manner, esp. from an insolent to a respectful tone.for a change contrary to how things usually happen; for variety.PHRASAL VERBS: change over move from one system or situation to another: crop farmers have to change over to dairy farming.DERIVATIVES: change·ful / ˈchānjfəl/ adj.ORIGIN: Middle English: from Old French change (noun), changer (verb), from late Latin cambiare, from Latin cambire ‘barter,’ probably of Celtic origin.


views updated May 18 2018

74. Change

constructive metabolism.
cainotophobia, cainophobia
1. the metabolic process in which energy is liberated for use in work.
2. destructive metabolism.
the process of an agent that affects a chemical or other reaction without being itself changed or affected. See also 113. DECAYING . catalyst , n.
the chemical and physical processes in an organism by which protoplasm is produced, sustained, and then decomposed to make energy available. Also, Rare. metaboly . metabolize , v.
change in form, structure, shape, appearance, etc. See also 179. GEOLOGY . metamorphic , adj.
1. change in form, structure, appearance, etc.
2. magical transformation. metamorphic, metamorphous , adj.
a change of form or type.
an abnormal dislike of novelty or innovation. Also called neophobia, cainotophobia, cainophobia.
1. the principle or concept of growth and change in nature.
2. nature considered as the source of growth and change.
3. something that grows or develops.
the process of complete and usually extreme or grotesque change from one state or form to another.
the process or act of change, especially from one thing to another, as the change from base metal to gold, pursued by the alchemists. transmutationist , n. transmutative , adj.


views updated May 23 2018

change a change is as good as a rest continuing one's efforts but changing the form of activity is as refreshing as a respite; proverbial saying recorded from the late 19th century.
change one's tune express a very different opinion or behave in a very different way.
change the name and not the letter, change for the worse and not the better reflecting a traditional belief that it is unlucky to marry someone whose surname begins with the same letter as one's own. Saying recorded from the mid 19th century.
don't change horses in mid-stream do not try to alter a course of action once you have embarked on it; saying recorded from the mid 19th century. The phrase to change horses in mid-stream is often found.

See also change-ringing, ring the changes.


views updated May 29 2018

change alteration, substitution, †exchange XIII; place of meeting for merchants XIV; money given in exchange XVIII. — AN. chaunge, OF. change, f. changer (whence change vb. XIII) :- late L. (Rom.) cambiāre, f. L. cambīre exchange, barter, prob. of Celt. orig.
Hence changeling †waverer, turncoat; person, esp. an infant, substituted for another XVI; see -LING 1.


views updated May 23 2018


the order in which a peal of bells can be rung, hence, the collective sound of the bells; Mathematics. a permutation for a different order in which a set or series of things can be changed.

Examples: change or peal of bells; a change of clothing [modern].