How can you elegantly describe that a polymorphic substance changes its structure?

  • It polymorphs
  • It morphs
  • It undergoes polymorphic transition
  • It experiences a morphic change

Or what would be even better terms?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Chemical ELL.SE! Please propose! :D $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 23, 2015 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


It "transitions from one polymorph to another"

It "transitions to another polymorph"

It "transition to polymorph beta"

It "transforms to another polymorph"

It "transforms to polymorph beta"

I like "transitions" better than "transforms", but I've seen both

  • $\begingroup$ I see "transition" as the more common form $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Jan 23, 2015 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ Does "polymorph" have a different definition in chemistry than colloquial English? Because here you're using polymorph as a form/shape rather than as an object that changes shape. A thing doesn't change to a polymorph, a polymorph changes shape to a thing. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymorphism_(materials_science) doesn't seem to disagree with me, though my knowledge of chemistry is minimal so I may be dead wrong here. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2015 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ This is what puzzled me in the beginning and is the reason why I ask. Originally, a polymorph is a substance which can have different shapes at the same conditions. But apperently each form of this polymorph is called "polymorph". Ugh... $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2015 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ In chemistry, the different polymorphs have different arrangements of atoms or molecules, but there is no macroscopic change in the shape of an object. $\endgroup$
    – DavePhD
    Jan 24, 2015 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ @DavePhD I would like to object that there were never a macroscopic change of the crystal. If atoms and molecules rearrange to yield a new polymorph with a unit cell of different volume, the density of the sample will change. If these changes exceed the Young moduli, the crystal may become brittle and shatter into pieces. $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Apr 8, 2020 at 18:01

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