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)

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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 On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, there was still confusion over what transpired in Iowa a week earlier. Author: Matt Viser, Sean Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News, "Candidates refocus attacks on Trump as New Hampshire primary looms," 11 Feb. 2020 That's because no matter who's snubbed or what unbelievable onstage kerfuffles might transpire, there's never a shortage of iconic hair looks, from Halle Berry's famous pixie to Angelina Jolie's casual bombshell blowout. Erika Stalder, refinery29.com, "13 Oscars Hairstyles That Will Go Down In History," 9 Feb. 2020 And if the show does come back, Penn Badgley has already presented a plausible theory for what might transpire in new episodes. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Penn Badgley's Theory About Joe and Love's Future in You Is So Good," 27 Dec. 2019 This year is different in that anyone that was long risk assets should be feeling pretty good about the way things transpired in 2019. Ben Carlson, Fortune, "10 Things Investors Can Bank on in the New Year," 27 Dec. 2019 Several seconds later, Bozarjian returned to her reporting duties but was still visibly shaken from what had transpired. Eric Todisco, PEOPLE.com, "Reporter Slams Man Who Groped Her on Live TV: ‘You Violated, Objectified, and Embarrassed Me’," 9 Dec. 2019 While the end goal of capturing whatever transpires on video is the same, the two methods for getting there could hardly be more different. Tony Hansen, Outdoor Life, "7 Pro Tips for a Better Self-Filmed Hunt," 27 Nov. 2019 Warren’s unity pitch would be thin even if all this melodrama had not transpired. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Let Them Fight!," 16 Jan. 2020 The trial of Harvey Weinstein hadn’t even started in earnest when its first dramatic events transpired. Washington Post, "A week into Harvey Weinstein’s trial, here’s what we know and we can expect as the high-profile case continues," 10 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for transpire

Time Traveler

The first known use of transpire was in 1597

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Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Transpire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transpire. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for transpire

transpire

verb
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

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

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