tran·scend | \ tran(t)-ˈsend \
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

The novel transcends the Texas landscape and reveals the universal truths of our political process. Steve Israel,, "What's the greatest book about politics? Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and others weigh in.," 12 July 2018 Royalist mania transcends traditional political divisions in the United States. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Donald Trump, Meghan Markle, and America’s enduring obsession with the British royals," 12 July 2018 But any notion of norms, standards, or restraints that transcend partisanship, that apply equally to all tribes, has all but vanished from consideration. David Roberts, Vox, "Tribalism fueled Scott Pruitt’s rise to power — and the scandals that came with it," 5 July 2018 Our work as coaches transcends the field or court — or the classroom. Bob Mckillop, Washington Post, "Why take our college basketball team to Auschwitz?," 3 July 2018 This action now literally, literally transcends these stupid laws that are on the books, passed by Congress, signed into law by a previous president. Fox News, "Rep. Meadows says subpoenas forthcoming over Russia probe," 22 June 2018 Occasionally, the production transcends the script. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "Voices of the Tenderloin come alive in Campo Santo’s ‘Spirits’," 17 May 2018 Wickedness transcends heartfelt gaiety in the form of neglect, illness and despair. Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, Houston Chronicle, "The inspiring songs of the ‘Nightingale’ at ROCO," 4 Apr. 2018 In recent years, Jornet has transcended traditional endurance sports, establishing himself in an elite club of adventurers that is reinventing high-mountain objectives. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "Are Kilian Jornet's Speed Records Too Good to Be True?," 12 July 2018

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

Statistics for transcend

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for transcend

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

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More Definitions for transcend



English Language Learners Definition of transcend

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


tran·scend | \ tran-ˈsend \
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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Comments on transcend

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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