tran·​spire tran(t)-ˈspī(-ə)r How to pronounce transpire (audio)
transpired; transpiring

intransitive verb

: to take place : go on, occur
: to become known or apparent : develop
: to be revealed : come to light
: to give off vaporous material
specifically : to give off or exude watery vapor especially from the surfaces of leaves
: to pass in the form of a vapor from a living body

transitive verb

: to pass off or give passage to (a fluid) through pores or interstices
especially : to excrete (a fluid, such as water) in the form of a vapor through a living membrane (such as the skin)
Can transpire mean 'to occur'?: Usage Guide

Sense 1 of transpire is the frequent whipping boy of those who suppose sense 2 to be the only meaning of the word. Sense 1 appears to have developed in the late 18th century; it was well enough known to have been used by Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband in 1775.

there is nothing new transpired since I wrote you last Abigail Adams

Noah Webster recognized the new sense in his dictionary of 1828. Transpire was evidently a popular word with 19th century journalists; sense 1 turns up in such pretentiously worded statements as "The police drill will transpire under shelter to-day in consequence of the moist atmosphere prevailing." Around 1870 the sense began to be attacked as a misuse on the grounds of etymology, and modern critics echo the damnation of 1870. Sense 1 has been in existence for about two centuries; it is firmly established as standard; it occurs now primarily in serious prose, not the ostentatiously flamboyant prose typical of 19th century journalism.

Did you know?

Transpire (based on Latin spirare, meaning "to breathe") was originally used technically to describe the passage of vapor through the pores of a membrane (such as the skin). From this use developed the figurative sense: "to escape from secrecy" or "to become known." That sense was used in ambiguous contexts and often meant "to happen" or "to take place."

Examples of transpire in a Sentence

No one will soon forget the historic events that transpired on that day. A plant transpires more freely on a hot dry day. Trees transpire water at a rapid rate.
Recent Examples on the Web While plenty has already transpired in the dramatic story, viewers still have some more to look forward to in the coming month. USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2024 This is the story of what transpired when hip-hop and the violence of dueling street gangs collided with police departments in both Vegas and Los Angeles, and their competing efforts to solve the twin shootings of Shakur and fellow rap icon Biggie Smalls. Sasha Pezenik, ABC News, 30 Mar. 2024 The result has been a series of unsettling incidents that have transpired near or even inside Catholic Charities facilities in what officials say is a rapidly growing threat to their safety. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 29 Mar. 2024 Here's how to say goodbye The students told their parents about what transpired and the parents reviewed the SD card from the camera, which showed girls with their breasts and private parts exposed and notified the authorities. The Arizona Republic, 26 Mar. 2024 The two defendants from out of state were charged in Miami federal court because many of their electronic communications about exploiting Bieber and the two other performers transpired while the northeastern concert producer was visiting South Florida. Jay Weaver, Miami Herald, 14 Feb. 2024 Take responsibility for what transpires, and show strength and courage when facing opposition. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 12 Mar. 2024 Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent scouring more than 710,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean until 2018, but nothing transpired that moved our understanding on from that already available since the very early days. Chris Lau, CNN, 7 Mar. 2024 If ‘hey-hanging’ has already transpired within an organization, employers should be transparent in their communication and kindly, not sternly, remind employees of the importance of collaboration and respect towards others. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


Middle French transpirer, from Medieval Latin transpirare, from Latin trans- + spirare to breathe

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of transpire was in 1597


Dictionary Entries Near transpire

Cite this Entry

“Transpire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tran·​spire tran(t)s-ˈpī(ə)r How to pronounce transpire (audio)
transpired; transpiring
: to pass or give off in the form of water vapor through stomata in leaves
: to become known or apparent : become revealed
it transpired that we had the wrong address
: to come to pass : happen
what transpired last night

More from Merriam-Webster on transpire

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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