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)

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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


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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 When my children transgressed in some minor way, Disney employees very gently corrected them. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "How I learned to survive Disney and love the Mouse," 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, "Border-Town Life Defies the Wall in “Borderlands”," 12 Nov. 2019 However well-intentioned, the court nonetheless transgresses the limits of its authority. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Conservative justices decry civil trial suspensions in commitment, parental rights cases," 1 Apr. 2020 Barrett believes this transgresses the FDA's allowance, observing in particular that use for depression could be dangerous. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, "Meet the Controversial Doctor Behind the Dr. Phil Empire," 27 Feb. 2020 Authors and illustrators are being flamed online and having their reputations traduced and their careers threatened for transgressing the capricious new standards of ideological purity. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: All Woke—and All Winners," 31 Jan. 2020 Removal from sanctions lists often requires a determination that the blacklisting was based on insufficient evidence of violations or a commitment from the targeted company not to transgress in the future. Costas Paris, WSJ, "U.S. Treasury Removes Chinese Tanker Operators From Blacklist," 31 Jan. 2020 Anyone who transgresses that norm by refusing to follow traditional gender stereotypes is viewed askance and, in small and large ways, treated as an outcast. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, "To be a better ally, I gave up reading books by men for 2019," 27 Dec. 2019 Yet, unlike other norms Trump has transgressed, this is one many progressive Trump critics apparently want Democrats to join the president in dismantling. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: Progressives jump on this Trump train?," 20 Oct. 2019

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for transgress

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for transgress

Last Updated

24 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Transgress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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

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