Etymology: Middle French transpirer, from Medieval Latin transpirare, from Latin trans- + spirare to breathe
to pass off or give passage to (a fluid) through pores or interstices; especially to excrete (as water) in the form of a vapor through a living membrane (as the skin)
1. to give off vaporous material; specifically to give off or exude watery vapor especially from the surfaces of leaves
2. to pass in the form of a vapor from a living body
a. to be revealed ; come to light
b. to become known or apparent ; develop
4. to take place ; go on, occur
Sense 4 of transpire is the frequent whipping boy of those who suppose sense 3 to be the only meaning of the word. Sense 4 appears to have developed in the late 18th century; it was well enough known to have been used by Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband in 1775 <there is nothing new transpired since I wrote you last — Abigail Adams>. Noah Webster recognized the new sense in his dictionary of 1828. Transpire was evidently a popular word with 19th century journalists; sense 4 turns up in such pretentiously worded statements as “The police drill will transpire under shelter to-day in consequence of the moist atmosphere prevailing.” Around 1870 the sense began to be attacked as a misuse on the grounds of etymology, and modern critics echo the damnation of 1870. Sense 4 has been in existence for about two centuries; it is firmly established as standard; it occurs now primarily in serious prose, not the ostentatiously flamboyant prose typical of 19th century journalism.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.