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

When a player so young and so transcendent comes along, there... Ben Cohen, WSJ, "How Stormy Daniels Made the NBA’s Greek Freak Famous," 26 Apr. 2019 It's being humbled and frustrated and giddy and miserable and transcendent and exhausted, all in a span of five minutes. Jessica Levy, Good Housekeeping, "I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom Because I Don't Want to Miss a Single Moment," 6 Sep. 2015 All of humanity was finally coming to recognize the transcendent principles of democratic liberty and equality—or so many observers concluded. Roberto Stefan Foa And Yascha Mounk, WSJ, "When Democracy Is No Longer the Only Path to Prosperity," 1 Mar. 2019 Perhaps the biggest is that the most transcendent star, Rose, flamed out. K.c. Johnson,, "20 years since dissolution of the dynasty, Bulls still a long way from the top," 10 June 2018 For the next four minutes, Franklin delivers a transcendent performance, full of every element and characteristic that makes her the Queen of Soul. Naima Cochrane, Vox, "Aretha Franklin’s long reign as the Queen of Soul, explained in 12 performances," 16 Aug. 2018 The combination of some of the most pristine seafood on the planet, together with 400-plus years of know-how, and sleek Japanese aesthetics, makes having sushi here an almost transcendent experience. Melinda Joe, Condé Nast Traveler, "22 Best Places for Sushi in Tokyo," 27 Feb. 2018 Woods is a singular figure, transcendent first as a young, multiracial sensation who was promised as a world conqueror—and then went out and conquered the world. Jason Gay, WSJ, "There’s Tiger Woods—Then There’s Everyone Else," 24 Sep. 2018 So this is Divac's chance to take another swing at finding his transcendent star. Jason Jones, sacbee, "The fate of Vlade Divac and the Kings hinges on getting this draft right," 20 June 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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Statistics for transcendent

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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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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Comments on transcendent

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


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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