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[tran-suh m] /ˈtræn səm/
a crosspiece separating a door or the like from a window or fanlight above it.
Also called transom light, transom window. a window above such a crosspiece.
a crossbar of wood or stone, dividing a window horizontally.
a window so divided.
  1. a flat termination to a stern, above the water line.
  2. framework running athwartships in way of the sternpost of a steel or iron vessel, used as a support for the frames of the counter.
Artillery. a metal piece connecting the sidepieces of the tail or the cheeks of a gun carriage.
Origin of transom
late Middle English
1325-75; late Middle English traunsum, traunsom, Middle English transyn, probably alteration (by association with trans-) of traversayn < Old French traversin crosspiece, derivative of travers breadth; see traverse
Related forms
transomed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for transom
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now roost on the transom, over there in the corner, Stryker, and don't move.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • If the stern was square, the transom was set at a rake of not less than 45.

  • The arch of the transom must be marked, and the hull cut down to the sheer.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
  • The "hatch" was the transom over the door between the offices.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • Cadogan wondered what the man on the transom was thinking of.

    Sonnie-Boy's People James B. Connolly
  • Only Cadogan seemed to remember that Lavis was on the transom seat.

    Sonnie-Boy's People James B. Connolly
  • The transom was open, leaving an aperture of about three inches.

    Frank Merriwell's Pursuit Burt L. Standish
  • Again Morgan lifted his eyes to the midnight orbs beyond the transom.

    Frank Merriwell's Pursuit Burt L. Standish
British Dictionary definitions for transom


Also called traverse. a horizontal member across a window Compare mullion
a horizontal member that separates a door from a window over it
the usual US name for fanlight
  1. a surface forming the stern of a vessel, either vertical or canted either forwards (reverse transom) or aft at the upper side
  2. any of several transverse beams used for strengthening the stern of a vessel
Derived Forms
transomed, adjective
Word Origin
C14: earlier traversayn, from Old French traversin, from traverse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for transom

mid-14c., transeyn "crossbeam spanning an opening, lintel," probably by dissimilation from Latin transtrum "crossbeam" (especially one spanning an opening), from trans- "across" (see trans-) + instrumental suffix -trum. Meaning "small window over a door or other window" is first recorded 1844.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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