ephemeral

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

Definition of ephemeral 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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

ephemeral

noun

Definition of ephemeral (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from ephemeral

Adjective

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

Choose the Right Synonym for ephemeral

Adjective

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

The Mayfly Helps to Illustrate Ephemeral

Adjective

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").

Examples of ephemeral in a Sentence

Adjective

… 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 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 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 the autumnal blaze of colors is always to be treasured, all the more so because it is so ephemeral
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Take advantage of the fact that hostas emerge late and plant the large open expanses with spring-flowering bulbs and ephemeral wildflowers such as toothworts (Dentaria), spring beauties (Claytonia), and trout lilies (Erythronium). Kris Wetherbee, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow the Most Stunning Hostas," 7 Aug. 2018 And yet it is made from such ephemeral stuff: what appears to be a casually strung-together band of musicians, scattered through the rooms of an aging mansion, linked by A/V cords and a tempo the players drag along behind them. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Scenes of a privileged paradise that can never be in Ragnar Kjartansson’s ‘Western Culture’," 25 May 2018 But beware: While real, lasting talent has emerged from China's contemporary scene, there are scads of the merely trendy, the not-very-inspired, the ephemeral, and the downright bad (as there are in any contemporary art scene). Hanya Yanagihara, Condé Nast Traveler, "50 Things to Do in Asia Before You Die," 24 Sep. 2018 But Sierra Nevada in particular has consistently made world-class beers in big volume, and these ephemeral I.P.A.s will be its biggest test. Orr Shtuhl, New York Times, "Two Big Brewers Try to Cash In on an I.P.A. Craze," 18 Jan. 2018 One political loss is not the end, and even wins are ephemeral. Brianna Wu, Marie Claire, "I Ran for Congress. I Lost. I'm Persisting. Quitting Is Not an Option In the Trump Era.," 9 Oct. 2018 In September 2017, a lonely ephemeral particle on a 4.6-billion-light-year journey made a pit stop while passing through Antarctica. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Blaze It: Far-Out High-Energy Neutrino Came From a Blazar," 12 July 2018 For example, facts like Uber's use of ephemeral messaging may be used to explain gaps in Waymo's proof that Uber misappropriated trade secrets or to supply proof that is part of the res gestae of the case (like the due diligence report). Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Quest to dominate self-driving cars is at the heart of Waymo v. Uber trial," 4 Feb. 2018 In sporadic newsletters to donors, the Roden Art Foundation offers fundraising and construction updates, but a completion date remains ephemeral. Scott Craven, azcentral, "What is artist James Turrell creating inside a Flagstaff crater? He's been at it for 40 years," 14 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There isn’t a growing season for native plants, although ephemerals bloom and die in a few days and others flower even when there’s snow on the ground. Hattie Bernstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Cool down this summer in these magical gardens," 5 July 2018 Early-blooming wildflowers called spring ephemerals – such as spring beauty, yellow trout lily, marsh marigold, and more – pop up in fields and woods across Northeast Ohio during early spring. cleveland.com, "Medina County Park District Wildflower Challenge ends June 1 (photos, video)," 8 May 2017 Spring ephemerals bloom before tree leaves block the sunlight from reaching the forest floor. cleveland.com, "Medina County Park District Wildflower Challenge ends June 1 (photos, video)," 8 May 2017 Like all spring ephemerals, the clock is always ticking for the wood anemone. Dave Taft, New York Times, "On Forest Floors, Wood Anemone Provides a Burst of Spring," 26 Apr. 2017 The timing of this fleeting wildflower, as with other spring ephemerals, is critical to the balance of the ecosystem. National Geographic, "These Animals Live in the Most Powerful City in the World," 24 Apr. 2016

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.

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First Known Use of ephemeral

Adjective

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1807, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ephemeral

Adjective and Noun

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

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Statistics for ephemeral

Last Updated

3 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for ephemeral

The first known use of ephemeral was in 1576

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More Definitions for ephemeral

ephemeral

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ephemeral

: lasting a very short time

ephemeral

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

Medical Definition of ephemeral 

: lasting a very short time

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