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)

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 And up next Michelle Malkin is going to be here with more on the media's hysterical reaction to what has transpired over the last 48 hours or so. Fox News, "Rudy Giuliani: Strzok's defense is ridiculous, pathetic," 13 July 2018 The Enquirer/Scott Springer A week to forget With all that has transpired, Sowders has handed over the bulk of the summer coaching duties to his assistants. Scott Springer,, "Midland Redskins pitch in to help Harrison coach Shawn Sowders," 22 June 2018 What has transpired is something Callahan and former UCF director of player personnel Drew Hughes talked about back when the twins first arrived at UCF. Chris Hays,, "Shaquem Griffin content in NFL spotlight, past slights fueled UCF star's remarkable journey," 26 Apr. 2018 What continued transpiring with the offense in a 4-2 loss in the finale of a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks is more troubling and of more immediate concern. Kevin Acee,, "Diamondbacks cool down Lucchesi, beat cold Padres," 22 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about transpire

Listen to Our Podcast about transpire

Statistics for transpire

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for transpire

The first known use of transpire was in 1597

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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