tran·​scen·​dent | \tran(t)-ˈsen-dənt \

Definition of transcendent 

1a : exceeding usual limits : surpassing

b : extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience

c in Kantian philosophy : being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge

2 : being beyond comprehension

3 : transcending the universe or material existence — compare immanent sense 2

4 : universally applicable or significant the antislavery movement … recognized the transcendent importance of liberty— L. H. Tribe

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Other Words from transcendent

transcendently adverb

Did You Know?

The Latin verb scandere means "to climb", so transcend has the basic meaning of climbing so high that you cross some boundary. A transcendent experience is one that takes you out of yourself and convinces you of a larger life or existence; in this sense, it means something close to "spiritual". The American writers and thinkers known as the Transcendentalists, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, believed in the unity of all creation, the basic goodness of humankind, and the superiority of spiritual vision over mere logic. When we speak of the transcendent importance of an issue such as climate change, we may mean that everything else on earth actually depends on it.

Examples of transcendent in a Sentence

a firm belief in angels, demons, and other transcendent beings the star player's transcendent performance helped the team to a surprise victory

Recent Examples on the Web

Milwaukee has the league’s next transcendent player in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "No, the Warriors and their 'super team' are not going to ruin the NBA," 3 July 2018 And there have been plenty of transcendent players, too: Randy Moss, Joe Mauer, Kevin Garnett — none of whom sniffed a championship while in Minnesota. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Where Detroit ranks among longest championship droughts," 8 June 2018 But every once in a while, very rarely, something would happen, and one of these performers would actually become transcendent., "World Cup Countdown: 6 Weeks to Go - Roberto Baggio & the Elusive Daemon of Genius," 13 May 2018 But De Sica’s film, one of the transcendent masterpieces of cinema, was an enveloping tragedy. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "While watching 'En el Séptimo Día,' viewers rejoice in the hopes of immigrants," 15 June 2018 But does that make for a transcendent moviegoing experience? Michael O’sullivan, kansascity, "Despite stellar performances, ‘The Seagull’ never quite takes flight," 14 June 2018 The transcendent group included Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King. Chris Nelsen, Detroit Free Press, "Jalen Rose hopeful for Chris Webber, Fab Five reunion: 'That's my brother'," 19 June 2018 The 2017 Louisville Cardinals, for the most part, were a talented team that won if their transcendent superstar was electric enough to overwhelm the other team and lost otherwise. Jake Lourim, The Courier-Journal, "U of L Insider: New stars must step up for Lamar Jackson-less Cards," 11 July 2018 In the West, free expression is a transcendent right only in theory—in practice its survival is contingent and tenuous. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transcendent.' 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 transcendent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for transcendent

Middle English, from Latin transcendent-, transcendens, present participle of transcendere

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for transcendent

The first known use of transcendent was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of transcendent

: going beyond the limits of ordinary experience

: far better or greater than what is usual

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