tran·​scend | \ tran(t)-ˈsend How to pronounce transcend (audio) \
transcended; transcending; transcends

Definition of transcend

transitive verb

1a : to rise above or go beyond the limits of
b : to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : overcome
c : to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)
2 : to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality, or power

intransitive verb

: to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits

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Choose the Right Synonym for transcend

exceed, surpass, transcend, excel, outdo, outstrip mean to go or be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree. exceed implies going beyond a limit set by authority or established by custom or by prior achievement. exceed the speed limit surpass suggests superiority in quality, merit, or skill. the book surpassed our expectations transcend implies a rising or extending notably above or beyond ordinary limits. transcended the values of their culture excel implies preeminence in achievement or quality and may suggest superiority to all others. excels in mathematics outdo applies to a bettering or exceeding what has been done before. outdid herself this time outstrip suggests surpassing in a race or competition. outstripped other firms in sales

When Should You Use transcend?

Great leaders are expected to transcend the limitations of politics, especially during wartime and national crises. A great writer may transcend geographical boundaries to become internationally respected. And certain laws of human nature seem to transcend historical periods and hold true for all times and all places.

Examples of transcend in a Sentence

music that transcends cultural boundaries She was able to transcend her own suffering and help others. Her concerns transcended local issues.
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Recent Examples on the Web Calls for term limits often transcend political ideology. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Biden court commission could push for term limits and lower court expansion," 22 Feb. 2021 Dennett clearly means that deterministic processes can spawn phenomena that transcend determinism, like minds with free will. John Horgan, Scientific American, "Quantum Mechanics, Free Will and the Game of Life," 14 Feb. 2021 The supporter-partners transcend political parties, geography and outfits such as Minntech, the state's technology association, and Medical Alley, which brings together local innovators in medical technology. Star Tribune, "Minnesota's tax credit for angel investors works, should become routine," 13 Feb. 2021 Stephenson said her interview with Causey — and the other month of activities coordinated by the Bucks' corporate social responsibility team — represent the Bucks' efforts to transcend basketball and give back to Milwaukee's underserved communities. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Zora Stephenson, Milwaukee Bucks sideline reporter, talks about the team's Black History Month initiative," 4 Feb. 2021 But when these utter novices tap into that weird, primal thing that is artistic expression, the movie soars into a blazing display of the power of music to transcend and transform. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, "Lush romance, dreamy despair and rock ‘n’ roll: Three animated features not to miss," 25 Jan. 2021 Cheating and cheaters transcend sports, politics, entertainment and finance with a win-at-all-cost mantra. Kristin Broughton, WSJ, "CFOs Share Their Favorite Reads of 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 In due time, with the help of VR headsets and high-tech sound gear with advanced 3-D sound processing, the simulation of live concerts will transcend their own musicality and produce ravishing new expressions of art. Daniel Vnukowski, Los Angeles Times, "As a concert pianist, the stage is my life. But the pandemic taught me to love the livestream," 22 Dec. 2020 But talented people are always going to want to transcend self-expression and try to write the best song, the most stunning poem, the painting that gets everyone talking. Washington Post, "Maradona was great, and maybe the greatest. Can we make similar claims about artists?," 25 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transcend.' 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 transcend

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for transcend

Middle English, from Latin transcendere to climb across, transcend, from trans- + scandere to climb — more at scan

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Learn More about transcend

Time Traveler for transcend

Time Traveler

The first known use of transcend was in the 14th century

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Statistics for transcend

Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Transcend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for transcend



English Language Learners Definition of transcend

formal : to rise above or go beyond the normal limits of (something)


tran·​scend | \ tran-ˈsend How to pronounce transcend (audio) \
transcended; transcending

Kids Definition of transcend

1 : to rise above the limits of The music transcends cultural boundaries.
2 : to do better or more than The poem transcended all others in its beauty.

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