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)

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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 Bochy’s last milestone and upcoming farewell have given the last two weeks a sense of intrigue, but decisions the Giants make off of the field should be followed more closely than what transpires on it. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Behind-the-scenes decisions come into focus for Giants as season winds down," 13 Sep. 2019 It’s hard to imagine a more devastating blow to the Milwaukee Brewers than what transpired Tuesday, when Christian Yelich fouled a ball off his kneecap and suffered a break that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "These are the Wisconsin sports injuries that still haunt us," 11 Sep. 2019 Following the explosion, President Donald Trump tweeted a surveillance image depicting the apparent aftermath of the incident and declared that the U.S. had nothing to do with what transpired at the launch site. Washington Post, "US hits Iran space agency with sanctions over missile work," 3 Sep. 2019 According to Salah, what transpired at AFCON left him hugely frustrated at the politicking that is going on. Becky Anderson And James Masters, CNN, "Mohamed Salah is 'happy at Liverpool'; less so with the Egyptian FA," 19 Aug. 2019 LIGO-Virgo simulations for S190814bv predict the latter scenario, but no one knows for sure what actually transpired. Charlie Wood, Scientific American, "Astronomers Spy a Black Hole Devouring a Neutron Star," 19 Aug. 2019 Thomas Woodworth, the man believed to be the driver of the vehicle, has been placed on leave as the state police investigate what transpired. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "Corrections officer who drove truck through ICE protesters placed on leave," 16 Aug. 2019 Speaking to Jenkins after the rally, Dawson further described what transpired that evening. Fox News, "Trump supporter: President mistook me for an 'overweight' protester at rally, but I still 'love the guy'," 16 Aug. 2019 He was arrested and taken to the station, where the woman subsequently responded to find out what had transpired., "Woman flees from officers after tire rolls off vehicle: Mayfield Heights Police Blotter," 14 Aug. 2019

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

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for transpire

The first known use of transpire was in 1597

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More Definitions for transpire


How to pronounce transpire (audio)

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


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

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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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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