ev·​a·​nes·​cent | \ ˌe-və-ˈne-sᵊnt How to pronounce evanescent (audio) \

Definition of evanescent

: tending to vanish like vapor

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for evanescent

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

Breaking Down Evanescent

The fragile, airy quality of things evanescent reflects the etymology of the word evanescent itself. It derives from a form of the Latin verb evanescere, which means "to evaporate" or "to vanish." Given the similarity in spelling between the two words, you might expect evaporate to come from the same Latin root, but it actually grew out of another steamy Latin root, evaporare. Evanescere did give us vanish, however, by way of Anglo-French and Vulgar Latin.

Examples of evanescent in a Sentence

beauty that is as evanescent as a rainbow

Recent Examples on the Web

This is probably wise; the inclusion of evanescent fads might only date the work. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "Is the Internet Making Writing Better?," 26 July 2019 Marienbad’ to the present moment; its ravishing surfaces, somehow both diamond-hard and evanescent, exist gloriously outside of time. Mark Olsen, latimes.com, "Indie Focus: Real lies and true emotions in ‘The Farewell’," 12 July 2019 But, in truth, many of the momentary controversies (Julian Castro versus Beto O’Rourke on immigration, and an angry Bill de Blasio seemingly against the world) will prove evanescent, lost in the ebb-and-flow of a long campaign. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Miami Moonglow for Booker and Klobuchar," 27 June 2019 Morisot, in particular, was perfecting a visual language as intimate and evanescent as perfume in the 1870s. Washington Post, "Édouard Manet spent his final days in excruciating pain — and creating his most thrilling art," 7 June 2019 And, like all concept cars, an evanescent representation of a future that may have been, but never was. Brett Berk, Car and Driver, "BMW Reproduces Lost 1970 Garmisch Concept by Calling In Its Original Designer ,Marcello Gandini," 24 May 2019 Even the body, Ms. Tokarczuk suggests, is an uncertain, evanescent thing. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Pilgrim Without a Map," 9 Aug. 2018 For them, any evanescent illusion of societal metamorphosis has long since dissolved, along with the emotional intensity of that moment. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: After the Earthquake, a ‘Room’ Haunted by Memories," 21 May 2018 But what this reveals, particularly in the snowflake paintings, is an evanescent beauty very much like the delicate shapes that pass through ocean foam. Will Heinrich, New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'evanescent.' 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 evanescent

1717, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for evanescent

Latin evanescent-, evanescens, present participle of evanescere

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about evanescent

Listen to Our Podcast about evanescent

Statistics for evanescent

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for evanescent

The first known use of evanescent was in 1717

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for evanescent



English Language Learners Definition of evanescent

formal + literary : lasting a very short time


ev·​a·​nes·​cent | \ ˌev-ə-ˈnes-ᵊnt How to pronounce evanescent (audio) \

Medical Definition of evanescent

: tending to disappear quickly : of relatively short duration an evanescent rash

More from Merriam-Webster on evanescent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with evanescent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for evanescent

Nglish: Translation of evanescent for Spanish Speakers

Comments on evanescent

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


fear of the number 13

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!