mo·​men·​tary ˈmō-mən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce momentary (audio)
: continuing only a moment : fleeting
: having a very brief life
: operative or recurring at every moment
momentariness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for momentary

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 momentary in a Sentence

He experienced a momentary loss of consciousness. the pain of the flu shot was only momentary
Recent Examples on the Web And in those moments, Haney rides to California to find a momentary calm. Tyler R. Tynes, Los Angeles Times, 3 Dec. 2023 The most meaningful climate data and tools must provide longer-term insights that show an extended emissions, risk, and opportunity trajectory, rather than just a momentary snapshot. Henry Fernandez, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2023 There's this momentary decade or two of prosperity that seems to work, which encourages greater expansion, of course. Matt Simon, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 High temperatures will be in the mid-40s to around 50 degrees, but may feel up to 10 degrees colder during those momentary gusts. A. Camden Walker, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2023 But these momentary changes in perception aren’t enough to relieve symptoms. WIRED, 26 Oct. 2023 However, there was a momentary scare that got both Mishra, 25, and his Pookie bears very nervous. Farai Bennett, Peoplemag, 26 Oct. 2023 As congregants shuffled out, there was a momentary fracas near Lion’s Gate. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2023 The lack of civil defense has also affected international humanitarian and medical workers, who are faced with sporadic, momentary notice of Israel’s counterattacks. Yahya Abou-Ghazala, CNN, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'momentary.' 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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of momentary was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near momentary

Cite this Entry

“Momentary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


mo·​men·​tary ˈmō-mən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce momentary (audio)
: lasting only a moment

More from Merriam-Webster on momentary

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!