verb tran·scend \tran(t)-ˈsend\

Definition of transcend

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  to rise above or go beyond the limits ofb :  to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of :  overcomec :  to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)

  3. 2 :  to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality, or power

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits

Examples of transcend in a sentence

  1. music that transcends cultural boundaries

  2. She was able to transcend her own suffering and help others.

  3. Her concerns transcended local issues.

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of transcend

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

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of 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.

TRANSCEND Defined for English Language Learners


verb tran·scend \tran(t)-ˈsend\

Definition of transcend for English Language Learners

  • : to rise above or go beyond the normal limits of (something)

TRANSCEND Defined for Kids


verb tran·scend \tran-ˈsend\

Definition of transcend for Students




  1. 1 :  to rise above the limits of The music transcends cultural boundaries.

  2. 2 :  to do better or more than The poem transcended all others in its beauty.

Word Root of transcend

The Latin word scandere, meaning “to climb,” gives us the root scend. Words from the Latin scandere have something to do with climbing. To ascend is to climb upward. To descend is to climb downward. To transcend is to rise above or climb over something's limits.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up transcend? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


capable of being understood in two ways

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.