Definition of transcendent
- the antislavery movement … recognized the transcendent importance of liberty
- —L. H. Tribe
a firm belief in angels, demons, and other transcendent beings
the star player's transcendent performance helped the team to a surprise victory
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.
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.
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
: going beyond the limits of ordinary experience
: far better or greater than what is usual
What made you want to look up transcendent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz