ephem·​era | \i-ˈfe-mər-ə, -ˈfem-rə\
plural ephemera also ephemerae\i-​ˈfe-​mər-​ē, -​ˈfem-​rē \ or ephemeras

Definition of ephemera 

1 : something of no lasting significance usually used in plural

2 ephemera plural : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles

Examples of ephemera in a Sentence

He has a large collection of old menus and other ephemera.

Recent Examples on the Web

His store was jammed to the rafters with antique signs, musical instruments, and highway ephemera, none of which was for sale. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 Much of Blindspotting takes place in private homes and spaces, like the home Miles shares with his partner and son, and Collin’s mother’s house, which is brimming with art, ephemera, and personal belongings collected and layered over decades. Diana Budds, Curbed, "How two movies portray Oakland’s rapid change," 29 Aug. 2018 Here, an exhibition will be set up on the first floor—things that might once have been considered ephemera, like runway props, will be shown. Nick Remsen, Vogue, "In Mid-October, LVMH Will Offer a Rare Glimpse Into 76 of Its Worldwide Maisons," 27 Aug. 2018 Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the whole project was accessorizing the shelves with pretty yet functional ephemera, including sponges, natural soaps, and sea-grass baskets. Herrine Ro, Country Living, "This Tiny Bathroom Got a Big Ol' Countrified Makeover," 6 Oct. 2015 Eight new acquisitions — gifts from the artist’s nephew, Ken Hakuta — form the core of this small exhibition of roughly 20 art objects and a variety of ephemera. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "Nam June Paik turned technology into art — and vice versa," 11 July 2018 This intensely personal show will gather art and ephemera that reflect the ways in which Borensztein has used the camera as a way of recording and understanding his daughter’s life and conditions. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018 Baldwin, a former health care executive who has a MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, is a businesswoman who never planned on dealing in garden antiques, stoneware, and ephemera. Cindy Atoji Keene, BostonGlobe.com, "For Gray Baldwin, ornamental is fundamental," 25 May 2018 His collection of Cuban photos and ephemera — which today tops out at more than 8,000 individual items — includes rarities from Cuban history dating back to the early days of photography. Lily Rothman, Time, "Previously Unpublished Photos Capture Life in Cuba Before Revolution," 23 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ephemera.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ephemera

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ephemera

New Latin, from Greek ephēmera, neuter plural of ephēmeros

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ephemera

Statistics for ephemera

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ephemera

The first known use of ephemera was in 1650

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ephemera



English Language Learners Definition of ephemera

: things that are important or useful for only a short time : items that were not meant to have lasting value

Comments on ephemera

What made you want to look up ephemera? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!