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adjective ephem·er·al \i-ˈfem-rəl, -ˈfēm-; -ˈfe-mə-, -ˈfē-\

Simple Definition of ephemeral

  • : lasting a very short time

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of ephemeral

  1. 1 :  lasting one day only <an ephemeral fever>

  2. 2 :  lasting a very short time <ephemeral pleasures>

ephemerally play \-rə-lē\ adverb

Examples of ephemeral in a sentence

  1. … several rather inflated pages of material about an ephemeral love affair Fitzgerald allegedly had with an English woman named Bijou … —Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement, 5 Jan. 1996

  2. As a consequence North Africa was easily reconquered by the Byzantine emperor in the 530s, and the Vandals' influence on North African development was ephemeral and negligible. —Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, 1993

  3. This accounts for the peculiar sense most observers have that the ephemeral, sensationalist, polymorphous, magpie popular culture of the United States is at bottom remarkably conservative … —Louis Menand, Harper's, March 1993

  4. <the autumnal blaze of colors is always to be treasured, all the more so because it is so ephemeral>

Did You Know?

The mayfly (order Ephemeroptera) typically hatches, matures, mates, and dies within the span of a few short hours (though the longest-lived species may survive a record two days); poets sometimes use this insect to symbolize life's ephemeral nature. When "ephemeral" (from the Greek word ephēmeros, meaning "lasting a day") first appeared in print in English in the late 16th century, it was a scientific term applied to short-term fevers, and later, to organisms (such as insects and flowers) with very short life spans. Soon after that, it acquired an extended sense referring to anything fleeting and short-lived (as in "ephemeral pleasures").

Origin of ephemeral

Greek ephēmeros lasting a day, daily, from epi- + hēmera day

First Known Use: 1576

Synonym Discussion of ephemeral

transient, transitory, ephemeral, momentary, fugitive, fleeting, evanescent mean lasting or staying only a short time. transient applies to what is actually short in its duration or stay <a hotel catering primarily to transient guests>. transitory applies to what is by its nature or essence bound to change, pass, or come to an end <fame in the movies is transitory>. ephemeral implies striking brevity of life or duration <many slang words are ephemeral>. momentary suggests coming and going quickly and therefore being merely a brief interruption of a more enduring state <my feelings of guilt were only momentary>. fugitive and fleeting imply passing so quickly as to make apprehending difficult <let a fugitive smile flit across his face> <fleeting moments of joy>. evanescent suggests a quick vanishing and an airy or fragile quality <the story has an evanescent touch of whimsy that is lost in translation>.



noun ephem·er·al \i-ˈfem-rəl, -ˈfēm-; -ˈfe-mə-, -ˈfē-\

Definition of ephemeral

  1. :  something that lasts for a very short time :  something ephemeral; specifically :  a plant that grows, flowers, and dies in a few days

Origin of ephemeral

(see 1ephemeral)

First Known Use: 1807

Medical Dictionary


play play
adjective ephem·er·al \i-ˈfem(-ə)-rəl, -ˈfēm-\

Medical Definition of ephemeral

  1. :  lasting a very short time

Seen and Heard

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tending to dismiss important matters

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