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)

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 three-part psychological thriller, which previously premiered on U.K.'s Channel 5 network, follows the events that transpire in the final months of the former queen's life before her 1536 execution. Dory Jackson,, 17 Nov. 2021 Typically, these four phases will transpire over several conversations. Henry Devries, Forbes, 26 Oct. 2021 Then Thomas simply proceeded with making the art as if circumstances would transpire in her favor. New York Times, 13 Oct. 2021 There are the requisite bonding moments that transpire between him and Rafo, a likable kid who’s had few role models and even fewer options between his two uniquely irresponsible parents. Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2021 This is true not just of what will transpire onscreen but off it as well. Chris Nashawaty,, 15 Sep. 2021 Who ever knows what could transpire on a new season of Survivor? Dalton Ross,, 14 Sep. 2021 Trees transpire when water moves from the soil, through the plant and out into the atmosphere, Kannenberg said. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, 14 July 2021 Their most intimate moments transpire at the home David shares with his guileless mother (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, piercingly good), who embraces Alex almost as intently as her son does. Los Angeles Times, 17 June 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near transpire

transpiration stream



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Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Transpire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for transpire



English Language Learners Definition of transpire

: to happen
: to become known
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on transpire

Nglish: Translation of transpire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of transpire for Arabic Speakers


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