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verb tran·spire \tran(t)-ˈspī(-ə)r\

Simple Definition of transpire

  • : to happen

  • : to become known

  • of a plant : to have water evaporate from the surface of leaves

Full Definition of transpire


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to pass off or give passage to (a fluid) through pores or interstices; especially :  to excrete (as water) in the form of a vapor through a living membrane (as the skin)

  3. intransitive verb
  4. 1 :  to give off vaporous material; specifically :  to give off or exude watery vapor especially from the surfaces of leaves

  5. 2 :  to pass in the form of a vapor from a living body

  6. 3a :  to be revealed :  come to lightb :  to become known or apparent :  develop

  7. 4 :  to take place :  go on, occur

Usage Discussion of transpire

Sense 4 of transpire is the frequent whipping boy of those who suppose sense 3 to be the only meaning of the word. Sense 4 appears to have developed in the late 18th century; it was well enough known to have been used by Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband in 1775 <there is nothing new transpired since I wrote you last — Abigail Adams>. Noah Webster recognized the new sense in his dictionary of 1828. Transpire was evidently a popular word with 19th century journalists; sense 4 turns up in such pretentiously worded statements as “The police drill will transpire under shelter to-day in consequence of the moist atmosphere prevailing.” Around 1870 the sense began to be attacked as a misuse on the grounds of etymology, and modern critics echo the damnation of 1870. Sense 4 has been in existence for about two centuries; it is firmly established as standard; it occurs now primarily in serious prose, not the ostentatiously flamboyant prose typical of 19th century journalism.

Examples of transpire

  1. No one will soon forget the historic events that transpired on that day.

  2. A plant transpires more freely on a hot dry day.

  3. Trees transpire water at a rapid rate.

Origin of transpire

Middle French transpirer, from Medieval Latin transpirare, from Latin trans- + spirare to breathe

First Known Use: 1597

TRANSPIRE Defined for Kids


verb trans·pire \trans-ˈpīr\

Definition of transpire


  1. 1 :  to come to pass :  happen <Important events transpired that day.>

  2. 2 :  to become known or apparent <It transpired that they had met before.>

  3. 3 :  to give off water vapor through openings in the leaves

Seen and Heard

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February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

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