tran·​scen·​dent tran(t)-ˈsen-dənt How to pronounce transcendent (audio)
: exceeding usual limits : surpassing
: extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience
in Kantian philosophy : being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge
: being beyond comprehension
: transcending the universe or material existence compare immanent sense 2
: universally applicable or significant
the antislavery movement … recognized the transcendent importance of libertyL. H. Tribe
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 But that transcendent world and this low one, the one in which this ghost continues to dwell, do not overlap. Justin E. H. Smith, Harper's Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 Kareem leaves The Bucks’ fortunes changed with the flip of a coin before the 1969 NBA Draft, when Milwaukee won a toss that gave it the first pick and a chance to draft transcendent basketball talent Lew Alcindor out of UCLA. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2023 When done right, both could lead to catharsis; losing yourself on the dance floor can be just as transcendent an experience as an acid trip. Dash Lewis, Spin, 9 Aug. 2023 Best-Ever Mac ’n’ Cheese Properly made, plain old macaroni and cheese can be transcendent. Ben Mims, Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2023 The ailing shoe company sought a body brimming with transcendent talent, a superhuman athlete. A. Joseph Dial, Fortune, 28 Apr. 2023 Yes, the old school created a transcendent Black art form and sent it to the top of the world. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2023 Our imagination of what an inhabited universe might look like is at turns transcendent and scary, but so too is intimacy with other people at all. Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 11 July 2023 The result was a 12-song record that is primarily concerned with universal, transcendent truths. Sofia Andrade, Washington Post, 25 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'transcendent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near transcendent

Cite this Entry

“Transcendent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


tran·​scen·​dent tran(t)s-ˈen-dənt How to pronounce transcendent (audio)
: superior to or going beyond the usual : extraordinary
: going beyond the limits of ordinary experience

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