1

ephemeral

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

Definition of ephemeral

1 :lasting one day only
  • an ephemeral fever
2 :lasting a very short time
  • ephemeral pleasures

ephemerally

play \i-ˈfem-rə-lē, -ˈfēm-; -ˈfe-mə-, -ˈfē-\ adverb

ephemeral was our Word of the Day on 02/21/2013. Hear the podcast!

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 OatesTimes Literary Supplement5 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. CantorThe Civilization of the Middle Ages1993
  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 MenandHarper'sMarch 1993
  4. the autumnal blaze of colors is always to be treasured, all the more so because it is so ephemeral

Recent Examples of ephemeral from the Web

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

The Mayfly Helps To Illustrate ephemeral

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 and Etymology of ephemeral

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

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

2

ephemeral

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

Definition of ephemeral

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

Recent Examples of ephemeral from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of ephemeral


EPHEMERAL Defined for English Language Learners

ephemeral

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adjective

Definition of ephemeral for English Language Learners

  • : lasting a very short time


Medical Dictionary

ephemeral

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

medical Definition of ephemeral

:lasting a very short time


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