tran·spire | \tran(t)-ˈspī(-ə)r \
transpired; transpiring

Definition of transpire 

intransitive verb

1 : to take place : go on, occur

2a : to become known or apparent : develop

b : to be revealed : come to light

3 : to give off vaporous material specifically : to give off or exude watery vapor especially from the surfaces of leaves

4 : 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)

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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 came to life in the late 16th century and was originally used in technical contexts to describe the passage of vapor through the pores of a membrane. From this technical use developed a figurative sense: to escape from secrecy, or to become known. That sense was often used in ambiguous contexts and could be taken to mean happen. (For example, Emily Dickinson wrote in a letter, I long to see you once more ... to tell you of many things which have transpired since we parted.) Thus the to take place sense developed. Around 1870, usage critics began to attack this sense as a misuse, and modern critics occasionally echo that sentiment. But the sense has been common for two centuries and today is found in serious and polished prose.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Ron Hextall doesn’t like using the word rebuild when describing his four seasons as the Flyers’ general manager, but, in a sense, that’s what has transpired. Sam Carchidi,, "It will take more than James van Riemsdyk to make the Flyers a contender, but it's a start | Sam Carchidi," 2 July 2018 But now many of those who have felt buoyed by Trump’s nationalist views worry about his apparent admiration for Putin – and what might transpire at Monday’s summit. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "How strong a Europe does US want? In Trump era, that's still the issue.," 13 July 2018 But then there are still so many hurdles and tough opponents ahead before something that crazy transpires in Paris. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "On the Doubles Court, Venus and Serena Williams Make Time Stand Still," 1 June 2018 Which would be up to the American people to impose after learning exactly what abuses have transpired. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "Lois Lerner’s Last Laugh," 26 Mar. 2018 Italiano’s defense lawyer, Albert L. Hutton Jr., spoke with the Globe on Wednesday but was reluctant to discuss details of what transpired during the trial. Emily Sweeney,, "Four decades have passed since five men were found dead at the Blackfriars Pub in Boston," 12 July 2018 Officer Grams’s Body Worn Video Camera (BWVC) captured much of what then transpired. Michael Mccann,, "Inside Sterling Brown’s compelling lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department and City of Milwaukee," 19 June 2018 On Tuesday, a good Samaritan was killed after being struck by a vehicle while removing debris from a Louisiana roadway on Tuesday and his white killer turned to social media to spew a racist recap of what transpired. Paula Rogo,, "Man Who Killed Black Motorist Posts Racist Snapchat Comments After Incident," 31 May 2018 Regardless of what transpires, Hoffman possesses unique insight. Dennis Lin,, "Trevor Hoffman awaits another Hall of Fame announcement," 23 Jan. 2018

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

1597, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for transpire

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

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Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for transpire

The first known use of transpire was in 1597

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More Definitions for transpire



English Language Learners Definition of transpire

: to happen

: to become known

of a plant : to have water evaporate from the surface of leaves


trans·pire | \trans-ˈpīr \
transpired; transpiring

Kids Definition of transpire

1 : to come to pass : happen Important events transpired that day.

2 : to become known or apparent It transpired that they had met before.

3 : to give off water vapor through openings in the leaves

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Comments on transpire

What made you want to look up transpire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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