tran·​scend | \ tran(t)-ˈsend How to pronounce transcend (audio) \
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 Greta Thunberg has transcended politics to become the voice of a generation’s climate anxiety — or, at least, the voice that many have finally chosen to listen to. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Greta Thunberg's Book "No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference" Is a Clarion Call for Climate Rebellion," 12 Nov. 2019 An art form that started back when the earth was cooling, or, more accurately, pretty much as soon as people became people, according to experts in these sorts of things, baskets have transcended every age, culture and civilization. Marni Jameson,, "An homage to the humble basket, the household workhorse," 7 Nov. 2019 Inflation and an ever-rising ticket market can boost tour grosses for treks in the 2010s against those of the 1990s and 2000s, but Sheeran’s 2017-19 run has transcended the growing touring business. Eric Frankenberg, Billboard, "Ed Sheeran's Record-Breaking Divide Tour Posts Final Numbers: 255 Shows, $776.2 Million Grossed," 27 Aug. 2019 Most were awful, but some transcended their advertorial beginnings and became unforgettable. Soleil Ho,, "Is America ready for a Colonel Sanders computer game?," 16 Sep. 2019 Scott does not fall into simple blame; his understanding of our country’s racial divide transcends his characters’ experience, but never intrudes on their truth. Washington Post, "“The World Doesn’t Require You,”," 9 Sep. 2019 This kind of relationship can transcend style preferences, too. Kelsey Keith, Curbed, "My all-time favorite sofas," 2 Aug. 2019 On Tuesday morning, that bond transcended the immediate family of Viola Liuzzo and spread to everyone in the park. Julie Hinds And Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit statue finds a barefoot, undaunted Viola Liuzzo walking again for civil rights," 23 July 2019 The genre is venerable and chock-full of classics, but this film, directed by Olivia Wilde in her feature debut behind the camera, transcends category. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Booksmart’ Review: A Joy, Cover to Cover," 23 May 2019

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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Learn More about transcend

Time Traveler for transcend

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for transcend

Last Updated

22 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Transcend.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for transcend


How to pronounce transcend (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of transcend

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


tran·​scend | \ tran-ˈsend How to pronounce transcend (audio) \
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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