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

Definition of evanescent

: tending to vanish like vapor

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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 So the story of 2019, in particular, was a tale of hot takes and takedowns buttressed by evanescent evidence. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Political Media’s Blurred Reality," 12 Mar. 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 That dance is evanescent might be its most significant aspect, just as it’s said that death gives meaning to life. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Merce Cunningham’s Dance Out of Time," 18 Dec. 2019 That show, to me, was quintessential Hammons—an evanescent but indelible experience, made out of nothing, with nothing for sale. Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, "David Hammons Follows His Own Rules," 2 Dec. 2019 Basudha’s collection of 195 aromatic rice landraces has helped revive many evanescent local food cultures and traditional ceremonies. Debal Deb, Scientific American, "The Struggle to Save Heirloom Rice in India," 16 Oct. 2019 Mass reading has now been joined by mass writing: frequent, error-filled and evanescent—like speech. The Economist, "The internet is changing language less than curmudgeons fear," 18 July 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of evanescent

1717, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for evanescent

Latin evanescent-, evanescens, present participle of evanescere

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Time Traveler for evanescent

Time Traveler

The first known use of evanescent was in 1717

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Cite this Entry

“Evanescent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evanescent. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for evanescent


How to pronounce evanescent (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on evanescent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for evanescent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with evanescent

Nglish: Translation of evanescent for Spanish Speakers

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