From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
1. To exchange; to put or substitute something else in place of, as a smaller penalty, obligation, or payment, for a greater, or a single thing for an aggregate; hence, to lessen; to diminish; as, to commute a sentence of death to one of imprisonment for life; to commute tithes; to commute charges for fares.
The sounds water and fire, being once annexed to those two elements, it was certainly more natural to call beings participating of the first "watery", and the last "fiery", than to commute the terms, and call them by the reverse. --J. Harris
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