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The idea is to represent the concept that while an individual's life is finite and accumulated knowledge or wisdom will disappear after death, the result of one's actions can make a difference for others in the long run, therefore yielding a positive balance of one's existence.

Some expressions may allude to this, such as the classic "standing on the shoulders of giants", but I specifically would like a short word; ideally a one-syllable one, because this is to be part of a list of such concepts that I would want as concise as possible.

Moreover, due to the way I managed to shorten the other concepts, I would need this to be a verb. For instance, some of the other terms I already have are "learn" (for "amassing and sharing knowledge", "keeping an open mind", "constant learning", "preserving curiosity"), and "join" (for "collaboration", "contributing one's 2 cents").

So far, I settled for "mark" (the verb) as a metonym for "leaving a legacy", but I am not really satisfied with it, and indeed after some testing among my friends I've confirmed that the meaning isn't immediately clear for others.

edit: replaced "transcendence" with "legacy" in the question title, as suggested by Jed Oliver's answer (and at least two commenters before). I was thinking about the "transcending death" meaning, but admittedly, it wasn't very clear.

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Did you try a thesaurus? – Mitch Feb 3 '13 at 16:50
@Mitch, of course, I've looked everywhere I could, and exhausted my (probably limited) word-seeking avenues; that's why I resorted to asking others. More specifically, I am open to words that may not be direct synonyms but that will convey the intended meaning (for example, I chose "join" to stand for "collaboration") – waldyrious Feb 3 '13 at 16:55
You would want make your mark not just mark to convey your meaning. What does any of this have to do with transcendence anyway? – terdon Feb 3 '13 at 17:10
I don't think you're going to find a 1-syllable word that is also a verb and means what you want (which doesn't sound like transcendence at all)... and like @terdon pointed out 'mark' by itself is going to be pretty confusing – mattacular Feb 3 '13 at 17:38

10 Answers 10

"plant", "seed" or "sow" all convey the thought of starting something that will continue to grow, since you requested a short verb.

Another concept is to "leave a legacy" but I don't know of a single verb that conveys that exact thought.

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If you leave a legacy in your will, you bequeath something to someone.

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As in bestow to mankind? Does that provide the right context?

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How about abide?

• continue without fading or being lost.

ELU: “The Dude abides” — what does “abide” mean in that context?

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Newton begat the Calculus. From Wiktionary:

beget (third-person singular simple present begets, present participle begetting, simple past begot or begat, past participle begotten)

  1. To cause; to produce.
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Where are those citations from? Please tell us the name of where you got those from, and if applicable, also a link. If you are going copy out text verbatim, our Help Center says that you must name where you got the original from, and this post fails to do that. Please see the question on meta entitled “What to do about missing source attributions: Copying, Linking, Attributions, and Plagiarism for discussion on this. – tchrist Jul 7 '14 at 22:43
begat is a link. Perhaps your browser isn't picking it up: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/beget#English – Wayfaring Stranger Jul 7 '14 at 23:26
I know it is a link. But you should mention inline that it is from Wiktionary. Notice how the answer from Jed Oliver always says where it is from. – tchrist Jul 7 '14 at 23:27
Done and dusted. – Wayfaring Stranger Jul 7 '14 at 23:44
Thanks for that. +1. – tchrist Jul 7 '14 at 23:46

So the object here is a simple syllabic statement to convey a complex thought.

With that in mind, tran·scen·dent:

  1. Surpassing others; preeminent or supreme.
  2. Lying beyond the ordinary range of perception ...
  3. Being above and independent of the material universe.

(From The Free Dictionary)

Of course, what you're really trying to convey is much closer to a legacy:

The idea is to represent the concept of leaving a (hopefully positive) legacy ...

So what is a simple word for something that you live behind for others?


From The Free Dictionary:

  1. To present something as a gift to.
  2. To endow with.

Certainly when you endow something you are giving something that will live beyond you.

(Frankly, I prefer endow as the synonym you're looking for, you you did specify that you prefer a monosyllabic solution.)

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I'll edit the question to replace "transcendence" with "legacy"; thanks for the suggestion! You might want to update your answer afterwards. – waldyrious Feb 3 '13 at 21:24

How about fruit?

• the result or reward of work or activity

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Thanks, that's a good one. However, the way I managed to "compact" the other concepts was using verbs (join, share, etc.), so I would need this one to be a verb too. I'm sorry for forgetting this detail; I'll edit the question accordingly. – waldyrious Feb 3 '13 at 16:57
@Waldir: Well, it can be a verb (to fruit), but usually only when applied to plants. – Callithumpian Feb 3 '13 at 17:01
indeed, but I'm afraid that meaning is even less immediate than "mark"... – waldyrious Feb 3 '13 at 17:03

How about stake, as in:

Stake your claim.

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Driven by @Mitch's comment, I gave it another go and dived for a couple hours in a thesaurus looking for fitting terms. Several short terms would fit, as other answerers noted ("fruit", "stake", and the 2-syllable "abide"), but I feel they would be even less clear than "mark", because they're less common — and as commenters mentioned, "mark" is already quite unclear on it own.

Seed/plant/sow, offered by Kristina Lopez, are great ones, but somehow suggest something that won't be significant until it otherwise grows on its own (or through actions of others), reducing the role of the original actor as more of an galvanizer than an actual creator.

Still, aiming to the theme "to make a difference", I did find two terms that may work (and quite simple ones actually): "change", and "last". However, after reading so many words and definitions, I fear my judgement is clouded, so I'll leave the suggestions here as an answer, and let the upvotes/comments evaluate their merit.

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Additionally, I reckon that a separate sense could perhaps work, one based on the concept of creating something new; going down this route would suggest terms like "make", "build", "forge", "craft", or "add". Are these any good? – waldyrious Feb 3 '13 at 20:43
Forge, yes forge is pretty good. – terdon Feb 3 '13 at 21:07

It's not a single syllable, and it's not a verb, but a word related to the concept of legacy is posterity.

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