tran·scend | \tran(t)-ˈsend \
transcended; transcending; transcends

Definition of transcend 

transitive verb

1a : to rise above or go beyond the limits of

b : to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : overcome

c : to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)

2 : 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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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

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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But in the era of #MeToo, British designer Catherine Quin is looking to transcend the definition. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "British Designer Catherine Quin Redefines the It Girl with "Women of Purpose" Campaign," 14 June 2018 There are many definitions for the word model, and Karlie Kloss transcends all of them. Christy Turlington Burns, Town & Country, "Karlie Kloss Is Taking "Girl Boss" to Another Level by Teaching Young Women How to Code," 9 May 2018 Everyone borrows from elsewhere, chefs inspire other chefs, remixing ideas and executions with the hope the final product will transcend derivation. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Restaurant Review: Detroit's Empire Kitchen & Cocktails has no clothes," 12 July 2018 Megan's grandmother was an extremely heavy smoker who underwent a tracheotomy in her final years — a defining characteristic that transcended its mortal form. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner’s Guide to Communicating With Spirits on the Other Side," 19 June 2018 Yet, in thinking of Bernstein’s later years, one has to invoke the mysteries of artistic will, its capacity to redeem and transcend many kinds of failure. David Denby, The New Yorker, "Leonard Bernstein Through His Daughter’s Eyes," 16 June 2018 People gravitated towards it because there was such an authenticity to it that transcended everything. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Sway Calloway Talks Becoming Host & Executive Producer of MTV's Newly Revamped 'TRLAM'," 14 June 2018 And, of course, surfing — which transcended mere sport into a sort of physical Zen, fusing mind and body with the natural world. Jordan Runtagh,, "The Beach Boys in Their Own Words: America's Band Tells the Tales Behind Their Pop Masterpieces," 8 June 2018 The novel transcends the Texas landscape and reveals the universal truths of our political process. Steve Israel,, "What's the greatest book about politics? Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and others weigh in.," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transcend.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of transcend

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

History and Etymology for transcend

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

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Statistics for transcend

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for transcend

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

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More Definitions for transcend



English Language Learners Definition of transcend

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


tran·scend | \tran-ˈsend \
transcended; transcending

Kids Definition of transcend

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

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

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Comments on transcend

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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