tran·​scen·​dent | \ tran(t)-ˈsen-dənt \

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

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 The two young drivers with the skill and personality to become a transcendent star? Brendan Marks, charlotteobserver, "Can NASCAR’s biggest problems be repaired? Petty, Gordon and other legends weigh in | Charlotte Observer," 31 Mar. 2018 The former Westtown School big man will either be a workable defensive piece and good locker room addition or a transcendent star from this draft, depending on how his offense comes along. Mike Jensen,, "NBA draft observations: Mikal Bridges trade was 'heist' for Sixers, evaluating Villanova's stars' landing spots | Mike Jensen," 22 June 2018 Milwaukee has the league’s next transcendent player in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "No, the Warriors and their 'super team' are not going to ruin the NBA," 3 July 2018 And there have been plenty of transcendent players, too: Randy Moss, Joe Mauer, Kevin Garnett — none of whom sniffed a championship while in Minnesota. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Where Detroit ranks among longest championship droughts," 8 June 2018 But every once in a while, very rarely, something would happen, and one of these performers would actually become transcendent., "World Cup Countdown: 6 Weeks to Go - Roberto Baggio & the Elusive Daemon of Genius," 13 May 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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Last Updated

7 Jan 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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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