tran·​sient | \ ˈtran(t)-sh(ē-)ənt How to pronounce transient (audio) ; ˈtran-zē-ənt, ˈtran(t)-sē-; ˈtran-zhənt, -jənt \

Definition of transient

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : passing especially quickly into and out of existence : transitory transient beauty
b : passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn transient visitors
2 : affecting something or producing results beyond itself


tran·​sient | \ ˈtran(t)-sh(ē-)ənt How to pronounce transient (audio) ; ˈtran-zē-ənt, ˈtran(t)-sē-; ˈtran-zhənt, -jənt \

Definition of transient (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that is transient (see transient entry 1): such as
a : a guest or boarder who stays only briefly
b : a person traveling about usually in search of work
2a : a temporary oscillation that occurs in a circuit because of a sudden change of voltage or of load
b : a transient current or voltage

Other Words from transient


transiently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for transient


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

How Should You Use transient?

A transient mood is one that passes quickly. A brief stopover in a town on your way to somewhere else is a transient visit. A summer job on a farm is transient work, lasting only as long as the growing season. You may occasionally experience a transient episode of dizziness or weakness, which vanishes without a trace. As a noun, transient means a person who passes through a place, staying only briefly. The hoboes and tramps of earlier years were some of our most colorful transients, known for hopping freight trains, panhandling on the street, and stealing homemade pies cooling on the windowsill.

Examples of transient in a Sentence

Adjective A Summer in New York is actually Europe, the Sequel—city of transient Danes and Italians and Spaniards and French. — Guy Trebay, Village Voice, 30 July 1991 But Vandenberg, who had already written a hagiographic biography of Hamilton, was doing his personal hero no service. Rather, he trivialized him by dragging him into the transient issues of the day. — John Steele Gordon, American Heritage, July/August 1990 The mountain lies between his residence and the main road, and occludes the expectation of transient visits. — Thomas Jefferson, letter, 4 Aug. 1820
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Still, Raugei said the emissions problem is transient, as greenhouse gas emissions happen during the initial widespread deployment of these technologies, which is then followed by decades of carbon-free electricity generation. Shel Evergreen, Ars Technica, 2 May 2022 The benefits seem a bit unclear—like topping off a tank that’s already near-overflowing—and could be totally transient. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 4 Nov. 2021 Democratic turnout takes a steep drop, largely because of the state’s highly transient population, and Republicans gain ground. New York Times, 1 Apr. 2022 However, the coronavirus pandemic — now surging due to the new and more transmissible Omicron strain of the coronavirus — has proven difficult to control among a transient population with an uncertain vaccination history. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2022 Enclosed spaces and a transient population of incarcerated people and guards make jails particularly susceptible to Covid-19 spread, a virus transmitted through air particles. NBC News, 16 Oct. 2021 Government officials have brushed off concerns about a general exodus, noting that Hong Kong has always been an international city with a transient population. New York Times, 11 Oct. 2021 That number fluctuates with facility’s transient population. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Sep. 2021 The consolation, we’re often told, is that pain, too, can be transient. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The suspect was identified as Robert Nunez, 42, a local transient, according to Lt. Efren Aguirre. Ruben Vivesstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2022 Researchers recently found a transient that outshines all others like it—a supernova known as AT2020mrf. Briley Lewis, Scientific American, 21 Feb. 2022 The word 'transient' refers to something that isn't permanent. Jessica Migala,, 22 Feb. 2022 The researchers labeled the object a repeating transient. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 7 Feb. 2022 The 56-year-old transient was discovered by city workers cleaning up the park across the street from City Hall about 8 a.m. that Saturday. Carol Robinson |, al, 1 Jan. 2022 Authorities said George was a transient who died of natural causes. Carol Robinson |, al, 1 Feb. 2022 The suspect, a transient, Kerry Bell, was apprehended about 90 minutes after the assault, police said. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 18 Jan. 2022 The next day, a transient found parts of Newton's dismembered body in a trash bin about 3 miles down Santa Monica Boulevard. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of transient


1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for transient

Adjective and Noun

Latin transeunt-, transiens, present participle of transire to cross, pass by, from trans- + ire to go — more at issue entry 1

Learn More About transient

Time Traveler for transient

Time Traveler

The first known use of transient was in 1599

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Dictionary Entries Near transient



transient cause

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Statistics for transient

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Transient.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for transient


tran·​sient | \ ˈtran-shənt How to pronounce transient (audio) \

Kids Definition of transient

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not lasting or staying long a transient illness transient workers



Kids Definition of transient (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person traveling about usually in search of work


tran·​sient | \ ˈtran-zē-ənt How to pronounce transient (audio) , ˈtranch-ənt How to pronounce transient (audio) \

Medical Definition of transient

: passing away in time : existing temporarily transient symptoms

More from Merriam-Webster on transient

Nglish: Translation of transient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of transient for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about transient


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