trans·​gress | \ tran(t)s-ˈgres How to pronounce transgress (audio) , 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)

Other Words from transgress

transgressive \ tran(t)s-​ˈgre-​siv How to pronounce transgress (audio) , tranz-​ \ adjective
transgressor \ tran(t)s-​ˈgre-​sər How to pronounce transgress (audio) , tranz-​ \ noun

Synonyms for transgress


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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 Bad teachers are rarely held accountable, but the public school bureaucracy seems to be less tolerant of teachers who transgress against the Democratic-union establishment. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2021 Revision can be retrospectively kind to artists, especially to those who transgress the societal mores of their day. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, 24 Aug. 2021 Politics, for example, cannot shed light on why employees are willing to transgress and endanger their job security yet may fail to go to the polls and vote. Caterina Bulgarella, Forbes, 24 June 2021 Nonetheless, to act violently on the basis of such fictions – and to transgress against the humanity of others for nothing at all – is perhaps the most nihilistic act of them all. Ani Kokobobo, The Conversation, 13 Jan. 2021 Through it all, Chicagoans went to the movies, usually to escape the realities of the day, sometimes to transgress a little or to see what everybody was talking about. Michael Phillips,, 31 Dec. 2020 At times, the legislative or executive branches may transgress the boundaries the people established in the Constitution. Brian Hagedorn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 15 Oct. 2020 When my children transgressed in some minor way, Disney employees very gently corrected them. Oliver Staley, Quartz, 5 Mar. 2020 Rael, an architect, explores the area near the border fence outside El Paso with an eye tuned to reimagining the space around him and plotting ways to transgress it. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, 12 Nov. 2019 See More

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.

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for transgress

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

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Cite this Entry

“Transgress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for transgress


transitive verb
trans·​gress | \ tranz-ˈgres, trans- How to pronounce transgress (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on transgress

Nglish: Translation of transgress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of transgress for Arabic Speakers


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