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Word of the Day : April 22, 2013

transpire

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verb tran-SPYRE

Definition

1 : to give off vaporous material; specifically : to give off or exude watery vapor especially from the surfaces of leaves

2 : to become known or apparent : develop

3 : to take place : go on, occur

Examples

The police are still trying to determine what really transpired on the night of the accident.

"The Battle of Lexington Green transpired this morning as it always does. The British regulars advanced, a lopsided battle broke out, eight Minutemen died, the British marched on - and thousands of spectators, their heads full of history, headed to pancake breakfasts at surrounding churches." - From an article by Joshua Miller in The Boston Globe, April 15, 2013



Did You Know?

"Transpire" came to life in the late 16th century and was originally used in technical contexts to describe the passage of vapor through the pores of a membrane. From this technical use developed a figurative sense: "to escape from secrecy," or "to become known." That sense was often used in ambiguous contexts and could be taken to mean "happen." (For example, Emily Dickinson wrote in a letter, "I long to see you once more ... to tell you of many things which have transpired since we parted.") Thus the "to take place" sense developed. Around 1870, usage critics began to attack this sense as a misuse, and modern critics occasionally echo that sentiment. But the sense has been common for two centuries and today is found in serious and polished prose.

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "canorous," our Word of the Day from March 24? The answer is …


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