(1) A complete metamorphosis in insects.
(2) Complete physical changes in insects, i.e. insects undergo four developmetal stages, the embryo, larva, pupa, and adult.
For example, in the life cycle of a butterfly, the embryo grows within the egg, hatching into the larval stage caterpillar, before entering the pupal stage within its chrysalis and finally emerging as an adult butterfly imago.
See complete metamorphosis for examples of holometabolous insects.
Word origin: Greek holos, whole + metabol(e) change + -ism.
Synonym: complete metamorphosis, holometaboly.
Compare: incomplete metamorphosis.
See also: metamorphosis.