trans·​gress | \tran(t)s-ˈgres, tranz-\
transgressed; transgressing; transgresses

Definition of transgress 

intransitive verb

1 : to violate a command or law : sin

2 : to go beyond a boundary or limit

transitive verb

1 : to go beyond limits set or prescribed by : violate transgress divine law

2 : to pass beyond or go over (a limit or boundary)

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Other Words from transgress

transgressive \ tran(t)s-​ˈgre-​siv , tranz-​ \ adjective
transgressor \ tran(t)s-​ˈgre-​sər , tranz-​ \ noun

Examples of transgress in a Sentence

He who transgresses must seek forgiveness. There are legal consequences for companies that transgress the rules.

Recent Examples on the Web

But the word still pinpoints that which transgresses human decency. New York Times, "News of an ‘Outrage’ Used to Mean Something Very, Very Different," 23 May 2018 Cohler: Which raises the question of to what extent him transgressing these boundaries is deliberate or not. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Classical Music Can Learn From Kanye West," 2 July 2018 Thus, the most one can say about yesterday’s tweet is that President Trump — by demanding an investigation personally, in the midst of a tweet storm — is transgressing important norms of prosecutorial independence. Sean Illing, Vox, "8 legal experts on whether Trump’s demand for an investigation into the FBI is legal," 21 May 2018 But not all cancellations are the result of transgressing fans’ expectations. Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times, "Everyone Is Canceled," 28 June 2018 Ocean’s 8 doesn’t much deviate from this formula; man transgresses, man must suffer. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Sweet Revenge of Ocean’s 8," 12 June 2018 When the lights go out in the Colonies' living spaces, women can transgress., "The Subversive Role Of Religion In The Handmaid's Tale," 16 May 2018 Let those who have transgressed, for now, tell their stories only to each other, perhaps over drinks at a posh place in a lesser Hampton. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Not Now, Charlie Rose," 26 Apr. 2018 But others wondered if McMaster had transgressed a moral boundary. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "McMaster and Commander," 23 Apr. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for transgress

Middle English, from Middle French transgresser, from Latin transgressus, past participle of transgredi to step beyond or across, from trans- + gradi to step — more at grade

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Statistics for transgress

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for transgress

The first known use of transgress was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for transgress



English Language Learners Definition of transgress

: to do something that is not allowed : to disobey a command or law


transitive verb
trans·​gress | \tranz-ˈgres, trans- \

Legal Definition of transgress 

1 : to go beyond limits set or prescribed by : violate

2 : to pass beyond or go over (a limit or boundary)

intransitive verb

1 : to violate a law

2 : to go beyond a boundary or limit

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