tran·​si·​tion | \ tran(t)-ˈsi-shən How to pronounce transition (audio) , tran-ˈzi-, chiefly British tran(t)-ˈsi-zhən \

Definition of transition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : change
b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2a : a musical modulation
b : a musical passage leading from one section of a piece to another
3 : an abrupt change in energy state or level (as of an atomic nucleus or a molecule) usually accompanied by loss or gain of a single quantum of energy


transitioned; transitioning; transitions

Definition of transition (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make a transition transition into college

Examples of transition in a Sentence

Noun We want to have a smooth transition when the new owners take control of the company. the sometimes difficult transition from childhood to adulthood The country made a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy. Verb The company has transitioned to new management in the past year. a student who is transitioning to a new school
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The end of the transition period at 11 p.m. in London on New Year's Eve launched the U.K. on a new path on its own, free from EU laws, able to strike trade agreements around the world and to reshape its economy. Joe Mayes,, "Britain leaps into unknown with split from EU at critical moment," 2 Jan. 2021 After the transition period is over, there will be annual negotiations over fishing rights, with both sides able to apply tariffs to the other side’s fish to compensate for any losses. Washington Post, "The looming questions the Brexit deal didn’t answer," 1 Jan. 2021 While Brexit was officially completed in January 2020, Thursday marked the end of a transition period in which the U.K. followed all the E.U.'s rule and regulations. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "New era for Europe as U.K., E.U. complete Brexit separation," 1 Jan. 2021 The historic split, set in motion by a shock referendum result in June 2016, was formalized 11 months ago, but then cushioned by a transition period that took up the rest of 2020. Los Angeles Times, "Auld lang syne: Britain and the EU finally part ways," 31 Dec. 2020 Speaking of deadlines, British lawmakers eked out a vote to back the United Kingdom's post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union right before the very final deadline of the Brexit transition period. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for December 31: Coronavirus, transition, stimulus, Brexit, Yemen," 31 Dec. 2020 The tight timetable reflects the need to ratify the agreement before the end of the year, or risk economic disruption and legal uncertainty as a yearlong transition period to smooth the U.K.’s EU exit comes to an end. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "U.K. Lawmakers Approve Brexit Trade Deal, Cementing EU Exit," 30 Dec. 2020 Five executions were scheduled before the Jan. 20 inauguration, breaking with a 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions during the presidential transition period, according to the BBC. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Judge delays execution of sole woman on death row," 25 Dec. 2020 There is a transition period of five-and-a-half years during which reciprocal access rights to each other’s waters remain unchanged. Fortune, "The key terms of the Brexit trade deal: Everything you need to know," 25 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After roughly 1 year of testing, the fishbots successfully performed multiple movements, and could transition between behaviors seamlessly (see video, above). Meagan Cantwell, Science | AAAS, "Swarms of robotic fish can synchronize their swimming, for the first time," 15 Jan. 2021 Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan left no doubt about his confidence that former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer can transition to NFL success. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Jacksonville Jaguars introduce Urban Meyer as coach: “A leader, winner and champion”," 14 Jan. 2021 Tuesday morning may briefly start cloudy, but will transition to sunshine with highs back in the 60s. Dallas News, "Warm for the First Day of Winter," 21 Dec. 2020 But as the winter wears on, Covid’s grip will likely lessen, and the pace of economic growth could transition to really good. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "For America’s Economy This Winter, a Covid Freeze and Then a Vaccine Thaw," 18 Dec. 2020 In a letter to parents, Superintendent Dr. Michael Douglas said the system will transition to virtual learning starting Monday, Dec. 14. Leada Gore |, al, "Alabama school system goes virtual after 900 quarantined, 70 COVID positive cases," 11 Dec. 2020 The report also proposes how the world can equitably transition away from fossil fuels and minimize social disruption. Helen Regan, CNN, "We're at a turning point on climate change. But most countries are still choosing fossil fuels over clean energy, report says," 2 Dec. 2020 If that is the case, then unless Kendrick starts alongside Tyler (which would mean Duncan Robinson to the bench), Kendrick likely will have to transition to a full-time bench role in the Heat rotation. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Could Derrick Jones Jr. become rare Heat player who benefits by relocating?," 3 Nov. 2020 The shift from her primary to general election campaign was more jarring for Spartz, whose ads had to transition from pro-Trump to moderate. Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, "Hale leads Spartz in tight race for Indiana's 5th Congressional District," 3 Nov. 2020

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


1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1893, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for transition


Latin transition-, transitio, from transire

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Time Traveler for transition

Time Traveler

The first known use of transition was in 1545

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Statistics for transition

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Transition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for transition


How to pronounce transition (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of transition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a change from one state or condition to another



English Language Learners Definition of transition (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly US : to make a change from one state, place, or condition to another : to make a transition


tran·​si·​tion | \ tran-ˈsi-shən How to pronounce transition (audio) , -ˈzi- \

Kids Definition of transition

: an act or the process of passing from one state, stage, place, or subject to another : change


tran·​si·​tion | \ tran(t)s-ˈish-ən, tranz-, chiefly British tran(t)s-ˈizh- \

Medical Definition of transition

1 : passage from one state or stage to another especially : an abrupt change in energy state or level (as of an atomic nucleus or a molecule) usually accompanied by loss or gain of a single quantum of energy
2 : a mutation in RNA or DNA that results from the substitution of one purine base for the other or of one pyrimidine base for the other

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