across, through

Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary. The prefix trans- and its variant tra-, which mean “across,” appear in many English vocabulary words, for example: transmit, transform, and trajectory. Consider the word translation, which is the carrying “across” from one language into another.

Take the "Trans" Train

Today we will focus on the prefix trans- and its variant tra-, which mean “across.” Prefixes are morphemes which begin words, attaching to a word’s main part, or root, adding to the meaning of the word in some way.

The carrying “across” of people from one place to another is transportation, which can occur in many kinds of vehicles. When you transfer money from checkings to savings, you carry it “across” from one account to the other. A translucent substance allows some light to go “across” it to the other side. A transparent substance allows all light to go “across” it. And a translation? It is a going “across” from one language into another.

Imagine a transatlantic voyage, or one that goes “across” the Atlantic Ocean, made by a ship. This form of transit, or going “across” a passage, was once more common than it is now. When horrific storms came up on these long journeys, voyagers could often be transformed, their normal mode of behavior taken “across” into whole new forms of heroism and survival techniques.

A variant of the prefix trans-, tra-, also means “across.” A trajectory is the path that a thrown object travels “across” during its journey. When you traverse a country, you travel “across” it. And when you traduce someone’s character, you lead it from its current good state “across” to one of dishonor or disgrace.

Now you will be able to translate any word that you do not know with the prefix trans- in it into something having to do with going or being “across!”

  1. transportation: act of carrying ‘across’
  2. transfer: carry ‘across’
  3. translucent: of light going ‘across’
  4. transparent: of light going fully ‘across’
  5. translate: carry one language ‘across’ to another
  6. transatlantic: ‘across’ the Atlantic Ocean
  7. transit: a going ‘across’
  8. transform: to go from one shape ‘across’ to another
  9. trajectory: path thrown ‘across’
  10. traverse: turn ‘across’
  11. traduce: lead ‘across’


  • transpose

    If you transpose two things, you make them change places or reverse their normal order.

  • transmute

    Something transmutes when it changes from one form or state into another.

  • transience

    Something that has the quality of transience lasts for only a short time or is constantly changing.

  • intransigent

    An intransigent person is stubborn; thus, they refuse to change their ideas or behavior, often in a way that seems unreasonable.

  • traduce

    If you traduce someone, you deliberately say hurtful and untrue things to damage their reputation.

  • transmogrify

    If something is transmogrified, its form or shape is changed completely, especially in a funny or exaggerated way.

  • transgress

    When someone transgresses something, such as rules of social behavior or moral principles, they violate a boundary or limit.

  • transfix

    If something transfixes you, it surprises, interests, or shocks you so much that you are unable to move or think of anything else.

  • transcendent

    Something that is transcendent not only surpasses all others in quality, achievement, or significance, but exceeds normal limits or boundaries.

  • transcribe

    If you transcribe something, such as a speech or other text, you write it or type it in full.

  • travesty

    If you say that one thing is a travesty of a second thing, you mean that the first is an extremely bad, crude, or absurd version of the second.

  • transfuse

    When something is transfused to another thing, it is given, put, or imparted to it; for example, you can transfuse blood or a love of reading from one person to another.

  • translucent

    A translucent object allows some light to pass through it.

  • traverse

    When you traverse something, such as the land or sea, you go across or travel through it.

  • transport

    When you transport something, you carry or move it from one place to another.

  • transmit

    When something is transmitted, it is sent from one place to another, such as information being sent from one computer to another.

  • transfer

    When you transfer something, you move or carry it from one place to another.

  • transparent

    If something is transparent, such as a window or a glass, you can see through it.

  • transformation

    a qualitative change

  • transit

    make a passage or journey from one place to another

  • transition

    cause to convert or undergo a transition

  • transitory

    lasting a very short time

  • transportation

    a facility consisting of the means and equipment necessary for the movement of passengers or goods

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