tran·​si·​to·​ry ˈtran(t)-sə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce transitory (audio) ˈtran-zə- How to pronounce transitory (audio)
: of brief duration : temporary
the transitory nature of earthly joy
: tending to pass away : not persistent
transitorily adverb
transitoriness 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 Back then interest rates were still at rock bottom, inflation was deemed transitory and the market rewarded growth above profits. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 24 Jan. 2024 The Fed reported that 50% of the incremental increase in the CPI in December was due to the high cost of homes, which Williams identifies as a structural problem that is not transitory and that the agency will have to address. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 16 Jan. 2024 Young people have trouble truly appreciating how transitory life is. Chris Roemer, Baltimore Sun, 13 Jan. 2024 Embrace emerging technologies, stay true to authenticity, champion sustainability, foster communities and master the art of transitory narratives. Sebastian Naum, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023 The auditory illusion fits the mood of the piece: liminal, transitory, extremely trippy. Pitchfork, 4 Dec. 2023 In Aztec culture, death was transitory, and the souls of the dead could return to visit the living. Paola Briseño-Gonzalez, Los Angeles Times, 25 Oct. 2023 Themes of connection and the transitory, delicate nature of love reverberate brilliantly throughout — not solely in the narrative, but also through the production design, with its giant metallic heart sculpture and paper plane installation. Courtney Howard, Variety, 1 Nov. 2023 The bottom line is that there are two parts to the story, one short run and transitory and the other long run and a major factor for the outlook into ... Kevin A. Hassett, National Review, 26 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near transitory

Cite this Entry

“Transitory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


tran·​si·​to·​ry ˈtran(t)s-ə-ˌtōr-ē How to pronounce transitory (audio) ˈtranz- How to pronounce transitory (audio)
: lasting only a short time : short-lived, temporary
ˌtran(t)s-ə-ˈtōr-ə-lē How to pronounce transitory (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on transitory

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