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)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from transgress

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

Synonyms for transgress


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Notably, the person must be aware of having transgressed a norm. Annette Kämmerer, Scientific American, "The Scientific Underpinnings and Impacts of Shame," 9 Aug. 2019 In India, transgressing such boundaries sometimes provokes violence. Joanna Slater, Washington Post, "A young Indian couple married for love. Then the bride’s father hired assassins.," 19 Aug. 2019 If Mr Lovejoy and Mr Nobre are right, that could be disastrous—once the tipping-point is transgressed, much of the rest of the forest could follow in just a matter of decades. The Economist, "The Amazon is approaching an irreversible tipping point," 1 Aug. 2019 Recognizing that times were changing, Mrs. Kozlova, however, dared to transgress it. Djurdja Bartlett, Smithsonian, "When the United States and Soviet Union Fought It Out Over Fashion," 4 June 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about transgress

Statistics for transgress

Last Updated

26 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for transgress

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for transgress


How to pronounce transgress (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of transgress

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


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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on transgress

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


a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!