ephemeral

adjective
ephem·​er·​al | \ i-ˈfem-rəl How to pronounce ephemeral (audio) , -ˈfēm-; -ˈfe-mə-, -ˈfē- How to pronounce ephemeral (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ephemerally (audio) , -​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 Soon, the ephemeral substance that is so influential in global weather will surround her. Anchorage Daily News, "A scientific expedition to the top of the earth," 15 Mar. 2020 Horses – and the people who care for them – tend to live in remote, dry or cold grassland regions, moving often and leaving only ephemeral marks in the archaeological record. William Taylor, The Conversation, "Humans domesticated horses – new tech could help archaeologists figure out where and when," 2 Mar. 2020 Despite the ephemeral nature of most cable trends, this move from scripted to unscripted seems to be part of a broader identity crisis. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why Scripted TV Shows Are Becoming Scarce on Basic Cable," 27 Feb. 2020 Service is that intangible, ephemeral part of the dining experience that sends us home with warm feelings and fond memories — or leaves us shaking our head in irritation or disappointment. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year past winners," 9 Feb. 2020 Facebook formally unveiled prototypes last May for ads in its Status feature, which allows ephemeral postings similar to Instagram’s Stories. Kirsten Grind, WSJ, "Facebook Backs Off Controversial Plan to Sell Ads in WhatsApp," 16 Jan. 2020 Biber: The soufflé is as ephemeral and evanescent as the Blur Building by Diller Scofidio, and as difficult to carry off. Gabriella Gershenson, Saveur, "The Structural Soundness of Your Favorite Desserts, According to Architects," 30 Jan. 2017 In one of his ads, Thurston can be seen gazing down at a skull, ephemeral figures and disembodied arms swirling around his head. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Amazing Poster Art From the “Golden Age” of Magic," 4 Mar. 2020 They are often deemed important only as a historical record of another artist’s work, work that is by nature ephemeral. Melissa Harris, The New York Review of Books, "‘That Single Fleeting Moment’: Merce Cunningham in Images," 11 Jan. 2020 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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Time Traveler for ephemeral

Time Traveler

The first known use of ephemeral was in 1576

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Statistics for ephemeral

Last Updated

27 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ephemeral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ephemeral. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for ephemeral

ephemeral

adjective
How to pronounce ephemeral (audio) How to pronounce ephemeral (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ephemeral

: lasting a very short time

ephemeral

adjective
ephem·​er·​al | \ i-ˈfem(-ə)-rəl How to pronounce ephemeral (audio) , -ˈfēm- How to pronounce ephemeral (audio) \

Medical Definition of ephemeral

: lasting a very short time

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Comments on ephemeral

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