ev·​a·​nes·​cent | \ˌe-və-ˈne-sᵊnt \

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

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 The big difference was that the painters tended to work rapidly so as not to miss the moment, whereas Debussy was painstaking, labouring to evoke evanescent subjects such as clouds and water. The Economist, "A biography of Debussy explores his genius and flaws," 22 Feb. 2018 And yet her recollections are evanescent, unstable, because the media have taken charge of memory and forgetting. Edmund White, New York Times, "Reclaiming the Past in the Internet’s ‘Infinite Present’," 19 Jan. 2018 The answer lies in the evanescent nature of choreography. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "The Return of a Choreographic Coup," 18 Oct. 2017 While businesses chase evanescent market trends and grapple with a fast-moving future, millennial mentors, as many companies call them, have emerged as a hot accessory for executives. The New York Times, NOLA.com, "Millennial experts find new jobs mentoring the boss," 15 Oct. 2017 The presence of executive producer Kirsten Dunst in the lead could help distributor A24 score some press and audience attention but this is the kind of evanescent arty fare that slips in and out of theaters with barely a soul noticing. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Woodshock': Film Review | Venice 2017," 3 Sep. 2017 But even so evanescent a time of good feeling as that following 9/11 is difficult to imagine occurring today. Julian E. Zelizer, The Atlantic, "What Would It Take for Democrats and Republicans to Work Together?," 27 Aug. 2017

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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The first known use of evanescent was in 1717

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English Language Learners Definition of evanescent

: lasting a very short time


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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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

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to enclose within walls

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