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 Like all other Cyber Week sales, these Olaplex deals are fleeting. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 24 Nov. 2023 Installing physical barriers such as fences can help prevent deaths by stopping people from acting on a fleeting impulse, researchers say. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Resist the urge to follow fleeting fads; your wedding proposal deserves to be as one-of-a-kind as your love. Boutayna Chokrane, Vogue, 20 Nov. 2023 There’s further intimidation in the air: fleeting references to a houseguest of Felix’s from the previous year. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 18 Nov. 2023 Lost in translation Bathroom breaks aside, the only other fleeting hint of friction stemmed from a misunderstanding when Tarsem was getting to know his stars. Jamie Bryan, Rolling Stone, 16 Nov. 2023 The book chronicles fleeting and consequential loves throughout her life. Raquel Willis, Glamour, 1 Nov. 2023 Spotting its icy peaks, mesmerizing chasms and crevasses up close gave a face to the climate change the land is experiencing, a sobering reminder of the fleeting nature of these natural wonders. Kayla Becker, Travel + Leisure, 28 Oct. 2023 In Priscilla, Sofia Coppola’s sensitive, minor-key portrait of Elvis Presley’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley, there’s a fleeting shot of the King (played by Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi) performing onstage. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 3 Nov. 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 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: not lasting : passing swiftly
a fleeting glimpse

More from Merriam-Webster on fleeting

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