• synonyms


[tran-spahyuh r]
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verb (used without object), tran·spired, tran·spir·ing.
  1. to occur; happen; take place.
  2. to emit or give off waste matter, watery vapor, etc., through the surface, as of the body or of leaves.
  3. to escape, as moisture or odor, through or as if through pores.
  4. to be revealed or become known.
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verb (used with object), tran·spired, tran·spir·ing.
  1. to emit or give off (waste matter, watery vapor, an odor, etc.) through the surface, as of the body or of leaves.
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Origin of transpire

1590–1600; < Middle French transpirer < Medieval Latin trānspīrāre, equivalent to Latin trāns- trans- + spīrāre to breathe
Related formstran·spir·a·ble, adjectivetran·spir·a·to·ry [tran-spahyr-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /trænˈspaɪr əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectiveun·tran·spired, adjectiveun·tran·spir·ing, adjective
Can be confusedevanesce evaporate liquefy melt thaw transpire vaporize

Usage note

1. From its earlier literal sense “to escape as vapor” transpire came to mean “to escape from concealment, become known” in the 18th century. Somewhat later, it developed the meaning “to occur, happen,” a sentence such as He was not aware of what had transpired yesterday being taken to mean He was not aware of what had happened yesterday. In spite of two centuries of use in all varieties of speech and writing, this now common meaning is still objected to by some on the grounds that it arose from a misapprehension of the word's true meaning.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for transpire

befall, ensue, arise, develop, eventuate, chance, result, shake, go, betide, gel, break, emerge, leak

Examples from the Web for transpire

Historical Examples of transpire

  • What the question asked by our friend was, did not transpire.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 57, No. 352, February 1845


  • What the captain's intentions were did not transpire; they were known only to Francisco.

  • And do not let it transpire among your fellows that it is I who have suggested this.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • But that some very extraordinary event was about to transpire was evident to all.

  • The rest hung about dispiritedly, and waited for what might transpire.

    Despair's Last Journey

    David Christie Murray

British Dictionary definitions for transpire


  1. (intr) to come to light; be known
  2. (intr) informal to happen or occur
  3. physiol to give off or exhale (water or vapour) through the skin, a mucous membrane, etc
  4. (of plants) to lose (water in the form of water vapour), esp through the stomata of the leaves
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Derived Formstranspirable, adjectivetranspiration (ˌtrænspəˈreɪʃən), nountranspiratory, adjective

Word Origin for transpire

C16: from Medieval Latin transpīrāre, from Latin trans- + spīrāre to breathe


It is often maintained that transpire should not be used to mean happen or occur, as in the event transpired late in the evening, and that the word is properly used to mean become known, as in it transpired later that the thief had been caught . The word is, however, widely used in the former sense, esp in spoken English
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

Word Origin and History for transpire


1590s, "pass off in the form of a vapor or liquid," from Middle French transpirer (mid-16c.), from Latin trans- "through" (see trans-) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit). Figurative sense of "leak out, become known" is recorded from 1741, and the erroneous meaning "take place, happen" is almost as old, being first recorded 1755. Related: Transpired; transpiring.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper