verb trans·pose \ tran(t)s-ˈpōz \
Updated on: 15 Apr 2018

Definition of transpose

transposed; transposing
1 : to change the relative place or normal order of : alter the sequence of
  • transpose letters to change the spelling
2 : to change in form or nature : transform
3 : to render into another language, style, or manner of expression : translate
4 : to transfer from one place or period to another : shift
5 : to write or perform (a musical composition) in a different key
6 : to bring (a term) from one side of an algebraic equation to the other with change of sign


play \-ˈpō-zə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of transpose in a Sentence

  1. I must have accidentally transposed the numbers when I dialed his phone number.

  2. a story originally set in London that has been transposed to Paris for this film

  3. a melody transposed to the key of C

Recent Examples of transpose from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transpose.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Though transposing two digits can be disastrous, transposing two letters in a word often doesn't matter too much. (You can prboalby raed tihs setnence witohut too mcuh toruble.) Transposing two words or sounds—as in "Can I sew you to another sheet?"—has been a good source of humor over the years. Doctors sometimes discover that something in the body—a nerve, an organ, etc.—has been transposed, or moved away from its proper place. For musicians, transposing means changing the key of a piece; if you can do this at a moment's notice, you've been well trained.

Origin and Etymology of transpose

Middle English, from Anglo-French transposer, from Latin transponere (perfect indicative transposui) to change the position of, from trans- + ponere to put, place — more at position

Synonym Discussion of transpose

reverse, transpose, invert mean to change to the opposite position. reverse is the most general term and may imply change in order, side, direction, meaning.
    • reversed his position on the trade agreement
transpose implies a change in order or relative position of units often through exchange of position.
    • transposed the letters to form an anagram
invert applies chiefly to turning upside down or inside out.
    • the number 9 looks like an inverted 6



noun trans·pose \ ˈtran(t)s-ˌpōz \

Definition of transpose

: a matrix formed from another matrix by interchanging the rows and columns

First Known Use of transpose


TRANSPOSE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of transpose for English Language Learners

  • : to change the position or order of (two things)

  • : to change (something) by giving it a different form, using it in a different place or situation, etc.

  • music : to write or perform (a piece of music) in a different key

TRANSPOSE Defined for Kids


verb trans·pose \ trans-ˈpōz \

Definition of transpose for Students

transposed; transposing
1 : to change the position or order of
  • Transpose the letters in “tow” to spell “two.”
2 : to write or perform in a different musical key

Medical Dictionary


verb trans·pose \ tran(t)s-ˈpōz \

medical Definition of transpose

transposed; transposing
: to transfer from one place or period to another; specifically : to subject to genetic transposition
: to undergo genetic transposition


play \-ˈpō-zə-bəl\ adjective

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to speak or write verbosely and windily

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