transition

1 of 2

noun

tran·​si·​tion tran(t)-ˈsi-shən How to pronounce transition (audio)
tran-ˈzi-,
 chiefly British  tran(t)-ˈsi-zhən
plural transitions
1
a
: a change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another
a peaceful/orderly transition of power
the actor's transition to directing
the patient's transition from the hospital to home
… the transition from print reading to screen reading has increased our reliance on images …Christine Rosen
The program works with newcomer families, and their students, to help support the transition and integration into the school system.Chris Sumner
The National Portrait Gallery's emphasis in its caricature collection underscores the field's subtle transition between the world wars, when it went from mostly political uses to the light-hearted entertainment of celebrity caricature.Jane Addams Allen
… having told all her griefs …, she was soon able to make a voluntary transition to the oddities of her cousin …Jane Austen
Since the eye retains images slightly longer than it is actually exposed to them, it tends to meld two successive images into one, creating a smooth transition between them. This phenomenon … is responsible for the illusion of motion in movies … and television.Edward Pincus and Steven Ascher
b
: a period or phase in which such a change or shift is happening
… you're at the cusp, kids. You're at the edge between childhood and everything that comes after. You're in transition.R. J. Palacio
… non-REM sleep, which normally comprises the transition between waking and REM sleep …Marina Chicurel
Perched at the very point of transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance …Kirkus Reviews
… today's average marrying age in America happens to coincide with a time of life when people have historically been less religiously active: the transition period between moving out of your parents' house and starting a household of your own.Emma Green
2
: something that links one state, subject, place, etc. to another : a connecting part or piece
[The front porch] served … as a vital transition between the uncontrollable out-of-doors and the cherished interior of the home.Reynolds Price
: such as
a
: a passage of discourse in which a shift (as of subject or location) is effected
Every aspect of the book—its narrative transitions, dramatic changes in pictorial scale, fluctuations of mood, interlinking of visual themes—is handled with pinpoint control.Holland Cotter
b
: a segment connecting one dramatic scene to another
Another misstep: the overuse of historical footage as a transition between scenes. The images are disruptive and used completely out of context, often predating the era depicted here.Nicole Herrington
c
: a passage linking two sections of a piece of music : bridge
Furthermore, in two instances where new musical ideas are introduced … Mozart provides a musical transition to connect the new section with the preceding one.Michael Nott
It's a complicated emotion, and one that needed to be looked at and felt for quite some time before being hooked up with anything as confining as an intro, a verse or three, a chorus, and a bridge (transition between verse and chorus).Carly Simon
also : a musical modulation (see modulation sense 3)
Occasionally composers will introduce their new key area abruptly. More often, however, they will effect a smooth transition into the new key. Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter
3
: a process by which a transgender or nonbinary (see nonbinary sense c) person comes to live in accordance with their gender identity through changes to their appearance and presentation often with the aid of medical procedures and therapies

Note: While many associate this meaning of transition with a process that involves hormone therapy, gender confirmation surgery, and legal name change, the term is also applied more broadly, since what transition involves can vary a great deal from person to person. In some cases, for example, the word transition may simply refer to the adoption of new personal pronouns and/or a change in clothing, hairstyle, etc.

4
: 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

transition

2 of 2

verb

transitioned; transitioning; transitions
1
a
intransitive : to make a change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another : to make a transition
transitioning to a new facility
a student transitioning into college
Too many of the exterior shingles had transitioned from weathered to warped, and the interior walls all needed a fresh coat of paint.Richard Russo
Because tornadoes are generated when these different air masses … collide, they are most common in the spring, when the weather is transitioning from cold on the northern Plains to hot on the Gulf Coast.Donald Prothero
b
transitive : to cause (something or someone) to change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another
Teaching children to read first in their nonstandard Swedish dialect and then transitioning them to standard Swedish speeds and improves the acquisition of reading skills.Geoffrey K. Pullum
In the United States, the company's plans for transitioning prescription products to over-the-counter is easier now, as the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) unwritten standards for such switches have evolved.Robin Madell
2
intransitive of a transgender person : to come to live in accordance with one's gender identity through a process that involves changes to one's appearance and presentation often with the aid of medical procedures and therapies
Not all transgender people transition, and transitions look different for all kinds of people. They can be fast, or slow, and include lots of different kinds of treatments. … Transition is not one-size-fits-all. You may be comfortable altering your gendered existence without hormones or surgery; other people will feel those kinds of physical transitions are necessary for their survival.Diana Tourjée
… her [Jan Morris'] superb account of transitioning from male to female in the 1960s, when it was even more difficult than it is now.Peter Bradshaw
… she wanted to be helpful to other trans people who might not have had the same educational and cultural advantages she'd had. She had even written a guide about the practical aspects of transitioning, such as changing your name and updating legal documents, for others who might be following a similar path.Rebecca Mead

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The company’s cable stalwarts — MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and CMT — are struggling like other traditional cable brands amid the industry’s transition to streaming. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 6 Apr. 2024 The star made the transition from model to actress and told the Times last year she’s leaned on her man for help with her craft. Lisa Respers France, CNN, 5 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for transition 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'transition.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Latin transition-, transitio, from transire

First Known Use

Noun

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of transition was in 1545

Dictionary Entries Near transition

Cite this Entry

“Transition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transition. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

transition

1 of 2 noun
tran·​si·​tion tran(t)s-ˈish-ən How to pronounce transition (audio)
tranz-
1
: a changing from one state, stage, place, or subject to another
2
: a musical passage leading from one section of a piece to another
transitional
-ˈish-nəl How to pronounce transition (audio)
-ˈizh-
-ən-ᵊl
adjective
transitionally
adverb

transition

2 of 2 verb
: to make a transition
transitioning to a new school

Medical Definition

transition

1 of 2 noun
tran·​si·​tion tran(t)s-ˈish-ən How to pronounce transition (audio)
tran-ˈzi-,
 chiefly British  tran(t)-ˈsi-zhən
1
: a change or shift from one state or stage to another
also : a period or phase in which such a change or shift is happening
2
or transition mutation : a point 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
3
: a process by which a transgender person comes to live in accordance with their gender identity through changes to their appearance and presentation often with the aid of medical procedures and therapies

Note: While many associate this meaning of transition with a process that involves hormone therapy, gender confirmation surgery, and legal name change, the term is also applied more broadly, since what transition involves can vary a great deal from person to person. In some cases, for example, the word transition may simply refer to the adoption of new personal pronouns and/or a change in clothing, hairstyle, etc.

transition

2 of 2 intransitive verb
of a transgender person
: to come to live in accordance with one's gender identity through a process that involves changes to one's appearance and presentation often with the aid of medical procedures and therapies
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!