tran·​si·​to·​ry | \ ˈtran(t)-sə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce transitory (audio) , ˈtran-zə- How to pronounce transitory (audio) \

Definition of transitory

1 : of brief duration : temporary the transitory nature of earthly joy
2 : tending to pass away : not persistent

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Other Words from transitory

transitorily \ ˌtran(t)-​sə-​ˈtȯr-​ə-​lē How to pronounce transitorily (audio) , ˌtran-​zə-​ \ adverb
transitoriness \ ˈtran(t)-​sə-​ˌtȯr-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce transitoriness (audio) , ˈtran-​zə-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for transitory

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 transitory in a Sentence

the transitory nature of earthly pleasures
Recent Examples on the Web Other transitory crosscurrents, however, also could have distorted the figures. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Economy added solid 128,000 jobs in October despite GM strike and loss of census workers," 1 Nov. 2019 No gods of silver, no gods of gold — still less gods made of such flimsy stuff as barley, rain, and flax, or something as petty and transitory as mere political power. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "This Pilgrim Republic," 28 Nov. 2019 Note the way nonbinary was positioned from its inception as transitory, as a passing through. Alex Marzano-lesnevich, Harper's magazine, "Body Language," 25 Nov. 2019 Going hand-in-paw with that is the transitory nature of a dog's love. Scott Craven, azcentral, "You know your dog loves you. Now an ASU psychologist says he has scientific proof," 11 Nov. 2019 Children in foster care have little permanence in the world, forced to navigate a transitory life after being let down by adults. oregonlive, "New mural on E. Burnside to spotlight foster children’s collaboration with Portland artists," 8 Nov. 2019 Powell said that declining prices for some product and service categories tracked by inflation gauges -- such as investment advice services, clothing and footwear -- would prove transitory. Liz Mccormick,, "Powell Fails to Convince Inflation Traders With ‘Transient’ View," 2 May 2019 Everything else is transitory, including life itself. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Republicans to push for censure of Schiff in probe," 20 Oct. 2019 Eight different times between 2016 and 2017, a team led by Björn Benneke of the University of Montreal measured K2-18 b’s transitory atmospheric shimmer with the Hubble Space Telescope. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Astronomers Find Water on an Exoplanet Twice the Size of Earth," 11 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transitory.' 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 transitory

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for transitory

Middle English transitorie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin transitorius, from Latin, of or allowing passage, from transire

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Time Traveler for transitory

Time Traveler

The first known use of transitory was in the 15th century

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Statistics for transitory

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Transitory.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for transitory


How to pronounce transitory (audio) How to pronounce transitory (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of transitory

: lasting only for a short time

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Comments on transitory

What made you want to look up transitory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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