transpire

verb
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

Much of what transpired at Xerox PARC owes its origins to Doug and the people who created NLS with him. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "50 years on, we’re living the reality first shown at the “Mother of All Demos”," 9 Dec. 2018 Actually, what transpired on the island of Great Exuma that spring was much darker, more criminal, and more devastating to the lives of many than most of us realized. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Netflix’s Fyre Is a Story You Have to See to Believe," 15 Jan. 2019 What then transpired might have been one of the biggest dog and pony shows that amounted to nothing. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "The NBA Draft Is Over and LiAngelo Ball Is Still Without a Team," 22 June 2018 His insistence that the story of what transpired between the chief executive and his 21-year-old intern is not complete—is not fully fair—unless one also appreciates how much else Clinton has done. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Bill Clinton Feels His Own Pain," 4 June 2018 Anyway, what transpires is the elk begins to engage this guy, lowering its head and pushing its antlers against his shoulders. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Put down the smartphone and become more human," 31 May 2018 Instead, George was feeling chatty -- and what transpired from there was an example of what happens when a man seems to spiritually fill the entire building. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "HariSongs Label Debuts: 7 Great Moments When George Harrison Collided With Indian Music," 27 Apr. 2018 Of course, what transpired Wednesday during Steele's introduction at Cintas Center was simply the photo opportunity for family, friends, and school administrators. Patrick Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "Travis Steele era underway after his official Xavier basketball introduction as head coach," 4 Apr. 2018 What transpired over the next few hours was the earliest look at why this team — inexperienced, pitching-deprived and lacking talent — is predicted to finish with many more losses than wins. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers fall to Pittsburgh Pirates, 13-10, on marathon Opening Day," 30 Mar. 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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Statistics for transpire

Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for transpire

The first known use of transpire was in 1597

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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 \
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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