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

The messages didn’t indicate what transpired at those meetings. Steve Karnowski, The Seattle Times, "Under court order, Stauber emails with GOP group released," 30 Oct. 2018 There had, in fact, not been a single game in which the events that transpired Tuesday night at Globe Life Park could have occurred. Kevin Acee,, "Padres come back in rare style to beat Rangers," 26 June 2018 James McCann missed the Rally Goose, but said the Detroit Tigers need to make decal or something after what transpired Wednesday night. George Sipple, Detroit Free Press, "Rally Goose: Detroit Tigers score 5 runs in 6th in 6-1 win over Angels," 31 May 2018 In quiet moments, Mr. Shaw is left to consider what transpired at Waffle House: A man his own age tried to kill him. Alan Blinder, New York Times, "‘I Just Wanted to Live,’ Says Man Who Wrested Rifle From Waffle House Gunman," 23 Apr. 2018 Based on what transpired at the hospital, Hill’s mother told him not to attend the funeral. Kevin Grasha,, "'Family feud' escalated to an assault that canceled a grandfather's funeral," 1 Feb. 2018 The way things transpired at the end of the season and this offseason, that line just became darker. Peter King,, "Colin Kaepernick Does Not Care What You Think About His Tattoos," 23 July 2013 Almost 26 cubic kilometers of floodwater was temporarily stored on land, evaporating (or transpiring through plant leaves) much more slowly at about one cubic kilometer per day. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "GPS tracked the land sink under the weight of Hurricane Harvey’s rain," 20 Sep. 2018 Talking, cuddling, and discussing everything that transpired will help get you both in the right headspace. Gigi Engle, SELF, "7 Things You Should Absolutely Do Next Time You Go Down on Someone With a Vagina," 14 Sep. 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

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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