tran·​scend tran(t)-ˈsend How to pronounce transcend (audio)
transcended; transcending; transcends

transitive verb

: to rise above or go beyond the limits of
: to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : overcome
: to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)
: to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality, or power

intransitive verb

: to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits

Did you know?

When Should You Use transcend?

Great leaders are expected to transcend the limitations of politics, especially during wartime and national crises. A great writer may transcend geographical boundaries to become internationally respected. And certain laws of human nature seem to transcend historical periods and hold true for all times and all places.

Choose the Right Synonym for transcend

exceed, surpass, transcend, excel, outdo, outstrip mean to go or be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree.

exceed implies going beyond a limit set by authority or established by custom or by prior achievement.

exceed the speed limit

surpass suggests superiority in quality, merit, or skill.

the book surpassed our expectations

transcend implies a rising or extending notably above or beyond ordinary limits.

transcended the values of their culture

excel implies preeminence in achievement or quality and may suggest superiority to all others.

excels in mathematics

outdo applies to a bettering or exceeding what has been done before.

outdid herself this time

outstrip suggests surpassing in a race or competition.

outstripped other firms in sales

Example Sentences

music that transcends cultural boundaries She was able to transcend her own suffering and help others. Her concerns transcended local issues.
Recent Examples on the Web The trailblazing solo artist who has consistently sent out messages that transcend various categories such as gender, age and nationality sat down with Billboard Japan for an in-depth interview exploring her journey so far. Billboard Japan, Billboard, 24 Oct. 2022 In our 2022 Greats issue, out Oct. 16, T celebrates four inimitable artists across music, film, fashion design and sculpture whose talents — and ability to transcend the expectations of their craft — have cemented their place in the culture. Lovia Gyarkye Kyoko Hamada David Chow David Fernández Blaine Davis Juan A. Ramírez, New York Times, 16 Oct. 2022 There are some style icons that simply transcend their genre. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 11 Oct. 2022 Here are some truths that transcend circumstance and time. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 21 July 2022 Ethically handwoven by artisans in Xela, Guatemala, our favorite plaid runner combines unexpected colors into one fresh find that seems to transcend the seasons. Sarah Halverson, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Nov. 2022 Luxury swimwear requests are bound to hit Waller’s inbox every summer, but the sourcing aficionado says Chanel swimwear in particular seems to transcend seasons. Jamila Stewart, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 Oct. 2022 With the new device, Facebook parent Meta is seeking to transcend the notion that VR is primarily the realm of gamers, an effort to broaden its audience. Time, 11 Oct. 2022 Desplat is suitably alluring as Karla, but the character’s interactions with Lin generally fail to transcend a certain perfume-ad vagary. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 11 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin transcendere to climb across, transcend, from trans- + scandere to climb — more at scan

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of transcend was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near transcend

Cite this Entry

“Transcend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



tran·​scend tran(t)s-ˈend How to pronounce transcend (audio)
: to rise above or go beyond the limits of : exceed
: to be greatly superior to : surpass

More from Merriam-Webster on transcend

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.