tran·​scen·​dent | \ tran(t)-ˈsen-dənt How to pronounce transcendent (audio) \

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 After a 2020 Triple Crown season defined by scheduling oddities, empty grandstands and the absence of a transcendent 3-year-old champion, the racing world just wants a little normalcy from the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Childs Walker,, "10 horses to watch for the 2021 Kentucky Derby," 9 Apr. 2021 The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, "Raphael Warnock slammed for 'heretical' tweet saying 'meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection' of Jesus," 5 Apr. 2021 But while those bar shows are fun (and sometimes even transcendent), the songs, production and wallop of touring-level live music have been sorely missed. Matt Wake |, al, "Is Huntsville’s 2021 concert outlook any better than 2020?," 19 Feb. 2021 No other player was so transcendent and yet so earthy, at the same time. Jon Marthaler, Star Tribune, "Maradona inspired special devotion to Argentina soccer fans," 27 Nov. 2020 Any one of those elements can lower the bar, but all three have offered things transcendent (the first especially, more and more). Mary Sollosi,, "Don't make a date with Holidate: Review," 29 Oct. 2020 Cousins, on his best days, is effective, not transcendent; the Vikings still need to play with leads to utilize Cook and make their quarterback comfortable. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "In Vikings win, rookie Justin Jefferson breaks into the Kirk Cousins 'circle of trust'," 5 Oct. 2020 But RiRi — a culture maker as well as a retailer — has a knack for making commerce feel transcendent. New York Times, "7 Things to Do This Weekend," 1 Oct. 2020 In a sport where transcendent individual talent is paramount, and in a league with seven-game series meant to suppress randomness, the NBA is not all that unpredictable. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "The Miami Heat Were 60-to-1 Long Shots. Now They’re in the NBA Finals.," 29 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for transcendent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for transcendent

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Transcendent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for transcendent



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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