tran·​scen·​den·​tal·​ism | \ ˌtran(t)-ˌsen-ˈden-tə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce transcendentalism (audio) , -sən-\

Definition of transcendentalism

1 : a philosophy that emphasizes the a priori conditions of knowledge and experience or the unknowable character of ultimate reality or that emphasizes the transcendent as the fundamental reality
2 : a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical
3 : the quality or state of being transcendental especially : visionary idealism

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from transcendentalism

transcendentalist \ ˌtran(t)-​ˌsen-​ˈden-​tə-​list How to pronounce transcendentalist (audio) , -​sən-​ \ adjective or noun

Examples of transcendentalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Patience Worth’s strange diction, large output, and mix of transcendentalism and Christianity seemed at odds with Curran, a homemaker who dropped out of school at 13. Joy Lanzendorfer, Longreads, "Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, the Posthumous Author," 14 June 2018 One of the prime doctrines of transcendentalism is that God, or divinity, permeates every aspect of nature. National Geographic, "Darwin's Theory of Evolution Roiled U.S. on Eve of Civil War," 5 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transcendentalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of transcendentalism

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about transcendentalism

Statistics for transcendentalism

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for transcendentalism

The first known use of transcendentalism was in 1803

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for transcendentalism



English Language Learners Definition of transcendentalism

: a philosophy which says that thought and spiritual things are more real than ordinary human experience and material things

More from Merriam-Webster on transcendentalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with transcendentalism Encyclopedia article about transcendentalism

Comments on transcendentalism

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


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!