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 Steph Curry is now among the game’s most transcendent players. Jason Parham, Wired, "The Warriors and the Myth of the Silicon Valley-Driven Team," 13 Jan. 2020 The way to approach the design, from my experience, then, was through the art of war, and this midway point in the film clearly is a transcendent moment despite its horror. Beth Marchant, Los Angeles Times, "Behind the scenes on the ‘surreal nightmare’ within ‘1917’," 16 Jan. 2020 In place of potentially dangerous familial, religious, and political communities, the post-war consensus championed the disillusioned individual seeking personal fulfillment under governments that avoided any claims of transcendent purpose. Samuel Goldman, National Review, "The Populist Wager," 9 Jan. 2020 Barely cooked California spot prawns lolling about in a verdant green spring gazpacho was delicious on its own but transcendent alongside a salty, floral albariño from Monterey, California. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "The Wine Pairing That Changed the Way I Think About Wine Pairings," 3 Jan. 2020 But Patterson never became a transcendent quarterback. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football starting QB race among things to watch for 2020," 3 Jan. 2020 Here are four trends to watch as the Golden Eagles try to contend in the Big East: The right balance Howard is a transcendent scorer and a candidate for national player of the year. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Big East will be tough this season. How can Marquette contend for the conference title?," 31 Dec. 2019 Terrence Malick has made a transcendent film, a moral meditation of a real-life Austrian man named Franz Jägerstätter, played by August Diehl, who conscientiously objects to Hitler at profound personal cost. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Here are The Republic's 10 best-reviewed films of 2019," 30 Dec. 2019 Growth is not without its pains, but 2012 research by CityLab shows that the dense urban core of Philadelphia is increasing not just in sheer numbers but also in an ineffable and transcendent quality: happiness. Dina Litovsky, National Geographic, "Here’s why you’ll fall in love with Philadelphia," 14 Dec. 2019

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

4 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Transcendent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for transcendent


How to pronounce transcendent (audio)

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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