[ 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for transubstantiation


/ (ˌtrænsəbˌstænʃɪˈeɪʃən) /


(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 consecrationCompare 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

Culture definitions for transubstantiation


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.


Transubstantiation was the focus of a great controversy during the Reformation, because most other groups of Christians (see also Christian) 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.