Suppose I wish to talk about transcendence: the state of surpassing normal limits, particularly limits of the human mind and body.

The obvious answer is something like transcendentia, from trans + scendō with a couple endings added on, but given how the concept of transcendence has evolved over time I worry that this is a false friend.

  • Does the era matter to you? I'd guess transcendentia is used in more recent Latin but not classical.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 5:59
  • I think transcendentia might be fine in Eccl Latin/ Related, unanswered question: latin.stackexchange.com/questions/6988/… (though I think it doesn't refer to the same meaning of transcendence)
    – Rafael
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 12:21
  • clue: this paper discusses about the origin of the related (but more specific) philosophical meaning, as in the transcendentals
    – Rafael
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


Although transcendo might suit your purpose, I found that it was often used metaphorically not in the sense that you're speaking but more in the sense of exceeding moral boundaries, so your suspicion that it may be a false friend might be correct. Here's an example of it in the moral sense:

"Cupit regnum, et quidem scelerate cupit, qui transcendere festinat ordinem aetatis, naturae, moris Macedonum, iuris gentium." (Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, 40.11.7)

With respect to transcending the limits of mind and body, the idea of ecstasis might be closer to what you're talking about, and there are a number of different ways to express that idea such as: "a sensibus alienari", "in mentis excessum rapi" or "a seipso discedere".

Here's some examples of usage of these ideas:

"Ergo non oportet propter hoc alienari a corpore vel rapi." (Bernard de Trilia, Quaestiones disputatae de cognitione)

"Sed cum spiritalis visio, penitus alienato a sensibus corporis animo, imaginibus corporalium detinetur, sive in somnis sive in ecstasi, si nihil significant quae videntur, ipsius animae sunt imaginationes: sicut etiam vigilantes et sani, et nulla alienatione moti, multorum corporum quae non adsunt sensibus corporis, cogitatione imagines versant." (Augustine, De Genesis ad Litteram, XII.12.26)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.