transpire

verb
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)

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

What's transpired since this announcement has been confusing, to say the least. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Here's Why Britney Spears Fans Are Posting #FreeBritney All Over Social Media," 23 Apr. 2019 All of this transpired right in front of the referee, who offered a yellow card to Simeone and sent off Becks. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "Craziest FIFA World Cup moments: Zinedine Zidane's headbutt, biggest upset, 'Hand of God'," 6 June 2018 Had the game happened 20 years later in the age of replay review, the play never would have transpired. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Twenty years after he played part in iconic NCAA moment, Glendale's Bill Jenkins still loves the annual reminders," 14 Mar. 2018 What transpires is a night of adolescent debauchery straight out of Superbad. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Olivia Wilde’s New Movie Looks Like the Female Superbad—and People Are Thrilled," 11 Mar. 2019 What transpires between the two men is a dialogue sequence of extraordinary lucidity and emotional power, during which Toller gently reminds Michael that despair exists so that God's hope can shine all the brighter. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "The bracing 'First Reformed,' starring a superb Ethan Hawke, resurrects Paul Schrader's career," 17 May 2018 Heather Chrisler — an utterly fearless Chicago actress — noted what had transpired and used the moment like kerosene on stage. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "12 shows to see now," 22 June 2018 Today marks the one year anniversary of that day, and a lot has transpired since the tragedy. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "11 Teen Gun Violence Survivors and Activists on the Parkland Shooting Anniversary," 14 Feb. 2019 What transpires is ludicrous, if gripping in a pulpy sort of way (a fearsome terrorist inmate is actually a supernatural demon bent on exposing the venality of the authoritarian state). Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Which of These New TV International Thrillers Should You Binge?," 30 Aug. 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

12 May 2019

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

transpire

verb

English Language Learners Definition of transpire

formal : to happen
formal : to become known
technical, of a plant : to have water evaporate from the surface of leaves

transpire

verb
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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

something valued as if it were money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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