adjective ev·a·nes·cent \ ˌe-və-ˈne-sᵊnt \
|Updated on: 26 Jun 2018

Definition of evanescent

: tending to vanish like vapor

evanescent was our Word of the Day on 10/21/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of evanescent in a Sentence

  1. beauty that is as evanescent as a rainbow

Recent Examples of evanescent from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of evanescent

Latin evanescent-, evanescens, present participle of evanescere

Synonym Discussion of 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

EVANESCENT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of evanescent for English Language Learners

  • : lasting a very short time

Medical Dictionary


adjective ev·a·nes·cent \ ˌev-ə-ˈnes-ᵊnt \

medical Definition of evanescent

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

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