fleet·​ing ˈflē-tiŋ How to pronounce fleeting (audio)
: passing swiftly : transitory
… the often fleeting nature of fame and fortune …Tom Sinclair
fleetingly adverb
fleetingness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for fleeting

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

Examples of fleeting in a Sentence

I caught a fleeting glimpse of the comet. had a fleeting desire to jump into the cool lake but kept on hiking
Recent Examples on the Web Smaller-scale projects have benefited beaches in several places along the county’s coast, but the gains can be fleeting. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2023 However, our looks at the Pixel Watch 2 have been relatively fleeting. Victoria Song, The Verge, 8 Sep. 2023 That fleeting feeling of being No. 1 came on Oct. 10, 2016. Mark Stewart, Journal Sentinel, 28 Aug. 2023 In this Southern California town, residents are grappling with the fear that their way of life may be fleeting. Jill Cowan Maggie Shannon, New York Times, 2 Sep. 2023 But fleeting and ephemeral things have a substrate, memory, which gives them a permanence beyond other, more seemingly durable material. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2023 Summer in Chicago is fleeting, and every moment needs to be savored. Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 19 Aug. 2023 The moment is fleeting, because usually there is a new pimple (or 10) just as the last one (or 12) is on the way out. Adam Hurly, Robb Report, 17 Aug. 2023 Motivation is fleeting, but routine is what carries you on. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fleeting.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1563, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fleeting was in 1563

Dictionary Entries Near fleeting

Cite this Entry

“Fleeting.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fleeting. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: not lasting : passing swiftly
a fleeting glimpse

More from Merriam-Webster on fleeting

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