A Metamorphmagus

"I'm a Metamorphmagus. It means I can change my appearance at will. I was born one."
Tonks regarding her Metamorphic abilities[src]

A Metamorphmagus (pl. Metamorphmagi) is a witch or wizard with the rare ability to change their physical appearance through sheer will alone, without the need of Polyjuice Potion or a spell like most of the wizarding population.

Difference from Animagi

"Metamorphmagi are born, not made."
—Tonks explaining to Harry about Metamorphmagi[src]

Unlike Animagi, Metamorphmagi can take a wide variety of forms, changing sex and age, potentially looking like anyone at all, or even just changing a part of their appearance, such as the colour of their hair or shape of their noses.[1] Animagi also transform at will, but only into one animal form which is determined by their inner traits. It is never revealed if Metamorphmagi can take the full form of an animal, and Tonks simply describes the ability as being able to change her "appearance".

Also, a Metamorphmagus is born, not made; it is not a skill that can be learned.[1] There also seems to be a degree of heritability, as both Nymphadora Tonks and her son, Teddy Lupin, were Metamorphmagi, although both of Tonks' parents, Andromeda and Ted, were not. The ability presents very early in life, as Teddy Lupin's hair changed colour when he was a newborn infant, as did his mother's.[2]

Metamorphic usage

"I got top marks in Concealment and Disguise during Auror training without any study at all, it was great."
—Tonks regarding her Metamorphmagus abilities[src]

Nymphadora Tonks changing her facial features at will and with ease

It is unknown whether Metamorphmagi receive any training in developing their innate skill, or if they learn through trial and error. Given their rarity, it is unlikely that much training is available. However, Tonks has shown that she only needs to concentrate a little to change her appearance, so it may be simply a matter of the Metamorphmagi wanting to change. While it has been debated whether Animagi transformations and Disapparition require a wand, it seems Metamorphmagi do not need theirs to utilise their abilities. Tonks has claimed that other wizards need a wand or potions to transform, meaning Metamorphmagi such as herself are not restricted as such.

It is unknown if Metamorphmagi must register with the Ministry of Magic like Animagi must, as Metamorphmagi did not choose to become what they are, while Animagi did. Although unlike Animagi, Metamorphmagi do not possess any distinct markings that come with their transformation, so it would be far more difficult to keep track of them for any signs of ability abuse.

Like many other types of magic, a Metamorphmagus' abilities are affected by their emotional state. The person's appearance at any moment will often reflect the emotion the person is feeling at the time. Strong emotions, such as shock or sadness, can affect their abilities to the point of having trouble using them at all. For example, Nymphadora Tonks had difficulty using her abilities following Sirius Black's death, when she was depressed over her feelings for Remus Lupin.[3]

Metamorphic abilities can be very helpful when it comes to disguises. For example, Nymphadora Tonks was able to put her abilities to use in performing espionage for the Order of the Phoenix. She also got full marks in Concealment and Disguise of her Auror training, implying that this ability can be used for official examinations and competitions.[1]

Albus Dumbledore wrote an article examining whether it was possible for Metamorphmagi to use their transformational abilities to disappear without a trace in a 1926 issue of Transfiguration Today.[4]

Metamorphmagi can use their abilities to make themselves look exactly like another person. During her school years at Hogwarts School, Tonks often got detentions for turning into teachers.[5] This also included ghosts.[6]

Known Metamorphmagi

Behind the scenes

  • In Latin, the female form of Magus is Maga. However, female Metamorphmagi are never referred to as "Metamorphmaga" or "Metamorphmagae", which would be the female plural, in canon.
  • Jacob's sibling will jokingly suggest that they may be a Metamorphmagus to distract Nymphadora Tonks when playing Gobstones with her, an apparent tongue-in-cheek reference to the player being able to adjust their appearance at any time. However there is no canon reference to this. During the game the character may use both polyjuice potion and become an animagus, suggesting that it may not be the case.


In Greek, "meta" means "change," "morph" means "shape," and "magus" (in Latin) means "magic or wizard." Hence, a wizard that can change shape, and the term "Metamorphosis" is the term to describe an animal changing into another animal such as how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.


Notes and references

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