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From New Latin ephemerus, from Ancient Greek ἐφήμερος (ephḗmeros), the more common form of ἐφημέριος (ephēmérios, of, for, or during the day, living or lasting but for a day, short-lived, temporary), from ἐπί (epí, on) + ἡμέρα (hēméra, day).


  • IPA(key): /ɛˈfɛ.mə.ɹəl/, /əˈfɛ.mə.ɹəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛɹəl


ephemeral (plural ephemerals)

  1. Something which lasts for a short period of time.
    Synonym: ephemeron

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ephemeral (comparative more ephemeral, superlative most ephemeral)

  1. Lasting for a short period of time.
    Synonyms: temporary, transitory, fleeting, evanescent, momentary, short-lived, short, volatile; see also Thesaurus:ephemeral
    Antonyms: permanent, eternal, everlasting, timeless
    • (Can we date this quote by Vicesimus Knox and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Esteem, lasting esteem, the esteem of good men, like himself, will be his reward, when the gale of ephemeral popularity shall have gradually subsided.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir J. Stephen and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      sentences not of ephemeral, but of eternal, efficacy
    • 1818, Mary Shelley, chapter 9, in Frankenstein[1]:
      It was during an access of this kind that I suddenly left my home, and bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows.
  2. (biology) Existing for only one day, as with some flowers, insects, and diseases.
  3. (geology, of a body of water) Usually dry, but filling with water for brief periods during and after precipitation.
    • 1986, W.H. Raymond, "Clinoptilolite Deposit in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, U.S.A.", in Yūichi Murakami et al. (editors), New Developments in Zeolite Science and Technology (conference proceedings), Elsevier, →ISBN, page 80:
      The graben constitutes a depositional basin and a topographic low, underlain by Cretaceous shales, in which volcanic debris accumulated in ephemeral lakes and streams in Oligocene and early Miocene time.

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