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 Traffic in the area has seen a considerable increase from 2019 to 2020, even with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a lot of businesses to close or transition to a work-from-home model, according to the Palm Beach County Traffic Division. Austen Erblat,, "New apartments will lure young professionals to Boca Raton," 21 Feb. 2021 But step back for a moment and chew on this little factoid: In just two months, the U.S. has managed to administer 55 million shots--more than any other country--even during a chaotic time of plague and contentious presidential transition. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | OTHERS SAY: Not as bad as all that," 21 Feb. 2021 His transition season saw the Wolverines end the 2019-20 season with a 19-12 record (10-10 in the Big Ten) while at times showing what its potential could be by peaking at No. 4 in the Top 25 poll in the middle of the season. Stephen Means, cleveland, "What would it mean for Ohio State football if Jim Harbaugh were as successful at Michigan as Juwan Howard?," 20 Feb. 2021 The midseason premiere brings us to Zoey Johnson’s transition from college life to the full-time job of stylist. Lauren Hill,, "What we’re watching: ‘Nomadland’ to Queen Latifah’s ‘The Equalizer’ and ‘Outlander’ stars in kilts," 19 Feb. 2021 Cervi, meanwhile, had made the improbable transition from rock 'n' roll to children’s television, going on air for the first time concealed beneath Bozo’s wild red hair (which came from a yak), oversized shoes and an outsized red nose. Tim Kiska, Detroit Free Press, "Art Cervi, Detroit TV's Bozo the Clown in the 1960s and '70s, dies at age 86," 19 Feb. 2021 VanVleet hit a pair of free throws, Powell scored on a transition layup, and Siakam threw down a tying dunk. Patrick Donnelly, Star Tribune, "Raptors score last 11 to defeat Timberwolves 86-81," 19 Feb. 2021 Farden believes his history with the program has helped make the transition easier. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah’s Tom Farden and UCLA’s Chris Waller: New coaches finding different ways to lead ‘old guard’ gymnastics programs," 18 Feb. 2021 Green fell down after scoring, briefly leaving the Celtics slightly undermanned, but their generally poor transition defense following baskets has been an increasing issue recently. Adam Himmelsbach,, "Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown not selected as All-Star starters," 18 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Saffell helped transition the program, designed for elementary-school students, into an online format this past summer. Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle, "Cal's Michael Saffell named Pac-12's Football Scholar Athlete of the Year," 2 Feb. 2021 By 2035, Minnesota Power intends to transition the 468-megawatt Boswell Unit 4 off coal to another energy source. Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune, "Does Minnesota Power need another new gas plant as it heads toward carbon-free goal in 2050?," 2 Feb. 2021 Precipitation is likely to transition back to snow later in the day as temperatures drop. Mike Rose, cleveland, "Snow, freezing rain likely: Northeast Ohio’s Tuesday weather forecast," 25 Jan. 2021 Middle and high school students are expected to transition back to in person learning in the spring. oregonlive, "Lake Oswego puts the brakes on early February reopening plan for elementary schools," 25 Jan. 2021 The new president aims to transition the country to 100% renewable energy for electricity generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions in the overall economy by 2050. Tom Krisher, Anchorage Daily News, "Biden actions targeting climate change could have big impact on energy and auto industries," 21 Jan. 2021 The election of 1800 was hard fought, denoted by personal attacks and deadlocked for weeks, in part because the country had not yet worked out how to transition from one reign in office to the next. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Trump is not first president to refuse attending an inauguration," 20 Jan. 2021 By prioritizing this urgent climate action in his first days in office, the president is standing by his commitment to transition the United States away from fossil fuels and honor treaty rights across the country. Heather Keeler, Star Tribune, "Next up for Biden: Stop Line 3," 27 Jan. 2021 Granholm previously served as the governor of Michigan, and is a vocal advocate for clean energy, as Mr. Biden looks to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Watch Live: Biden announces nominees for climate team," 19 Dec. 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

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for transition



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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