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

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 Desire is tricky, mercurial, alternately fleeting and enduring, tragic and transcendent. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2022 Zelensky has mastered the tools of communications to send Ukraine's poignant message to the world, crafting the narrative of this conflict in a way that is credible, transcendent and understandable. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 9 Mar. 2022 Her intelligence is vast and curious and childlike and insatiable and transcendent, like yours. Jennifer Senior, The Atlantic, 9 Feb. 2022 Still, for all these mystical interpretations, the film appears to recognize that repetition is not always transcendent. Meghan O’gieblyn, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022 The film’s embrace of the natural world is absolutely transcendent. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Dec. 2021 Though perhaps not as wholly transcendent as his previous two (which is a very, very high bar), this latest is still an unmistakable joy. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, 3 Dec. 2021 UConn guard Paige Bueckers, the team’s leading scorer, delivered a number of showstopping baskets, and in the first half the Huskies’ ball movement looked nearly transcendent. New York Times, 22 Nov. 2021 Briones, the University of Chicago professor, said what baseball could really use is a transcendent Black star to increase the sport’s visibility among Black Americans. New York Times, 25 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

19 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Transcendent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on transcendent

Nglish: Translation of transcendent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of transcendent for Arabic Speakers


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