tran·​spire | \ tran(t)-ˈspī(-ə)r How to pronounce transpire (audio) \
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)

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 The text from Bill left Winkler anticipating what was going to transpire on the show following a season 2 finale cliffhanger in which Gene, Barry’s friend and acting teacher, discovers Barry killed the love of his life. Scott King, Forbes, 2 June 2022 The incident was the first to transpire live and was broadcast to a horrified city of Austin. James Moore, CNN, 25 May 2022 Something catastrophic truly did transpire to create the Scablands. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Apr. 2022 In his ruling, Judge Summerhays cited the administration’s own predictions about what would transpire if Title 42 goes away. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, 24 May 2022 Of particular interest to fans who still wonder aloud why Dany did that and how Bran came to sit where is Martin's promise that the events that transpire in the remaining books may not reflect all of the show's storylines. Sara Netzley,, 9 July 2022 The stories, however, mostly transpire in magical realms. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 2 July 2022 What interested me were the sensations, the emotions that transpire, to capture what these boys wanted to say to the world. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 28 May 2022 She has been raised by her father Atticus to see the court as a church or a chapel, an institution fully capable of fixing the injustices that transpire beyond its doors, a place of refuge, of stability, of hope, of equality under the law. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for transpire

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The first known use of transpire was in 1597

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transpiration stream



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Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Transpire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for transpire


trans·​pire | \ trans-ˈpīr How to pronounce transpire (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on transpire

Nglish: Translation of transpire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of transpire for Arabic Speakers


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