shapeshifting n.

the practice or act of changing shape to adopt the form of another animal or human

  • 1882 Keary’s Mythology of the Eddas (review) in Saturday Review 7 Oct. 475/1 page image

    Odin’s performances in the stealing of Suttung’s mead, his connexion with ravens, his ‘shape[-]shifting,’ and his use of a bird’s skin to fly in, and all precisely paralleled by the deeds of Yehl, the Raven-god of the Thlinkeets [i.e. Tlingit], to select but one example out of many.

  • 1884 A. Lang in M. Hunt Grimm’s Household Tales I. p. lxvii page image

    He escapes with her…by her magical gift of shape-shifting.

  • 1940 S. Quinn Mortmain in Weird Tales Jan. 42/2 page image Seabury Quinn bibliography

    In this form the ch’ing shih is relatively harmless, but if he dies what seems to be a natural death, or if he’s killed, he comes back as a full-fledged vampire, savage as a tiger and wicked as a snake. Also, in this second state, he’s capable of shape-shifting, and can take whatever form he pleases, though generally he assumes the shape of a tiger or jackal, or sometimes just a domestic cat.

  • 1963 A. Garner Moon of Gomrath 129

    Shape-shifting will take her, if she has need, faster than my horse… But I will go if Uthecar will ride with me to point the way.

  • 1984 B. Stableford The SF Sub-genres in D. Wingrove Science Fiction Source Book (1984) 58 Brian Stableford

    Within SF itself several writers have played the game of constructing pseudoscientific versions of well-known supernatural phenomena such as shape-shifting (e.g. ‘There Shall Be No Darkness’, 1950, by James Blish) and vampirism (e.g. I Am Legend, 1954, by Richard Matheson).

  • 1993 Locus June 23/2

    There are more marriages…and shapeshifting transformations…than in a dozen summers' worth of summer-stock Shakespeare.

  • 1993 Locus June 60/3

    Ian McDonald’s ‘Some Strange Desire’ cooks up cross-gender shape-shifting, secret immortals, and kinky sex.

  • 1994 A. A. Attanasio Solis (1995) 194

    Oh, I'm not ending it, Mei dear… I'm becoming light—true freedom. No more of this shape-shifting—morphs, clades, and plasmatics—it’s disgusting. The light is pure and timeless.

  • 2015 T. Baxendale Deep Time iv. 55 page image Trevor Baxendale bibliography

    But shapeshifting is only part of its repertoire of tricks. The fact is no one knows the exact extent of its powers or influence.

Research requirements

antedating 1882

Research History
Matthew Hoyt submitted a 1984 cite from Brian Stableford, in David Wingrove's "Science Fiction Source Book".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1974 reprint of Alan Garner's 1963 "The Moon of Gomrath"; Dave Langford verified the cite in a 1965 edition.
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a 1995 reprint of A.A. Attanasio's "Solis".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2015 cite from Trevor Baxendale.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1940 cite from Seabury Quinn.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted an 1882 cite from a review of a mythology book.

Last modified 2021-11-01 22:07:10
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.