Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — transpire

Good evening Netizens...

April 22, 2013

Word of the Day

  • transpire
  • audio pronunciation
  • \tran-SPYRE\


: to give off vaporous material; specifically : to give off or exude watery vapor especially from the surfaces of leaves
: to become known or apparent : develop
: to take place : go on, occur

The police are still trying to determine what really transpired on the night of the accident.

"The Battle of Lexington Green transpired this morning as it always does. The British regulars advanced, a lopsided battle broke out, eight Minutemen died, the British marched on — and thousands of spectators, their heads full of history, headed to pancake breakfasts at surrounding churches." — From an article by Joshua Miller in The Boston Globe, April 15, 2013


"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.


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.