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[tran-suh b-stan-shee-ey-shuh n] /ˌtræn səbˌstæn ʃiˈeɪ ʃən/
the changing of one substance into another.
Theology. the changing of the elements of the bread and wine, when they are consecrated in the Eucharist, into the body and blood of Christ (a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church).
Origin of transubstantiation
1350-1400; Middle English transubstanciacioun < Medieval Latin trānssubstantiātiōn- (stem of trānssubstantiātiō). See transubstantiate, -ion
Can be confused
consubstantiation, transubstantiation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for transubstantiation


(esp in Roman Catholic theology)
  1. the doctrine that the whole substance of the bread and wine changes into the substance of the body and blood of Christ when consecrated in the Eucharist
  2. the mystical process by which this is believed to take place during consecration Compare consubstantiation
a substantial change; transmutation
Derived Forms
transubstantiationalist, noun
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 transubstantiation

late 14c., "change of one substance to another," from Medieval Latin trans(s)ubstantiationem (nominative trans(s)ubstantio), noun of action from trans(s)ubstantiare "to change from one substance into another," from Latin trans- "across" (see trans-) + substantiare "to substantiate," from substania "substance" (see substance). Ecclesiastical sense in reference to the Eucharist first recorded 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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transubstantiation in Culture

transubstantiation definition

According to the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the presence of Jesus in the sacrament of Communion. Through transubstantiation, the bread and wine consumed by worshipers become the body and blood of Jesus when a priest, acting on Jesus' behalf, speaks the words “This is my body” and “This is my blood” over them.

Note: Transubstantiation was the focus of a great controversy during the Reformation, because most other groups of Christians do not maintain this doctrine. They usually hold that the body and blood of Jesus are only symbolically present in the bread and wine or that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus and bread and wine at the same time.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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