tran·​scend tran(t)-ˈsend How to pronounce transcend (audio)
transcended; transcending; transcends

transitive verb

: to rise above or go beyond the limits of
: to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : overcome
: to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)
: to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality, or power

intransitive verb

: to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits

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When Should You Use transcend?

Great leaders are expected to transcend the limitations of politics, especially during wartime and national crises. A great writer may transcend geographical boundaries to become internationally respected. And certain laws of human nature seem to transcend historical periods and hold true for all times and all places.

Choose the Right Synonym for transcend

exceed, surpass, transcend, excel, outdo, outstrip mean to go or be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree.

exceed implies going beyond a limit set by authority or established by custom or by prior achievement.

exceed the speed limit

surpass suggests superiority in quality, merit, or skill.

the book surpassed our expectations

transcend implies a rising or extending notably above or beyond ordinary limits.

transcended the values of their culture

excel implies preeminence in achievement or quality and may suggest superiority to all others.

excels in mathematics

outdo applies to a bettering or exceeding what has been done before.

outdid herself this time

outstrip suggests surpassing in a race or competition.

outstripped other firms in sales

Examples of transcend in a Sentence

music that transcends cultural boundaries She was able to transcend her own suffering and help others. Her concerns transcended local issues.
Recent Examples on the Web Portraying the 17-year-old Ali with a mix of swagger, defiance and vulnerability, Moon transcends impersonation to provide a soul-print of an artist as a young woman. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2023 Jews were neither the first nor certainly the last minority to anguish over that conflict between representing and transcending identity. Jesse Green, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 Team Ally makes up a group of athletes officially partnered with the bank, but Brimmer's vision for the initiative's impact transcends a typical athlete-sponsor relationship. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2023 Gratitude, or shukr, transcends one’s circumstances. Samantha Laine Perfas, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 Nov. 2023 Born in New Orleans, his soulful melodies have won him multiple Grammys with his music transcending borders. Ekow Barnes, Essence, 13 Nov. 2023 Find it on Amazon Build Your Own Green Haven with Lego Green House Lego has transcended its image as a mere children’s toy to become a hobby for all ages. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 15 Nov. 2023 The car had been a vessel of discovery, its performance and design transcending the mere act of travel. Kyle Edward, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 But Hinton argues that the intelligence displayed by A.I. systems transcends its artificial origins. Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'transcend.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin transcendere to climb across, transcend, from trans- + scandere to climb — more at scan

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of transcend was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near transcend

Cite this Entry

“Transcend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


tran·​scend tran(t)s-ˈend How to pronounce transcend (audio)
: to rise above or go beyond the limits of : exceed
: to be greatly superior to : surpass

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