Definition of ephemeral in English:



  • 1Lasting for a very short time.

    ‘fashions are ephemeral: new ones regularly drive out the old’
    ‘works of more than ephemeral interest’
    • ‘These traces of identity pass by the spectator in ephemeral moments, reflected, refracted, and distorted, as in a funnyhouse mirror.’
    • ‘The writer aims to take those fleeting, ephemeral, sensual moments and transform them into something rich, coherent and meaningful.’
    • ‘For me, each flash of the van was observed stoically, as an ephemeral moment of pseudo-intellectual reflection.’
    • ‘The title of the exhibition suggests something fleeting, almost ephemeral: the images hung from the ceiling transferred on the fabrics confirm this.’
    • ‘For a while, everyone watched the crowd grow larger in an ephemeral moment of promise and anticipation.’
    • ‘Still, throughout my studies I have come across one or two stories from business gurus that I admit that I have found to be quite helpful, and a bit less ephemeral than a temporary high.’
    • ‘Happiness for Aristotle is not a fleeting feeling or an ephemeral passion.’
    • ‘I mean what could you possibly win, apart from cash and the kind of frankly transitory and ephemeral applause of certain kinds?’
    • ‘Taken individually, each object may have provoked some unsettling reactions and reverberations, but those were fleeting and ephemeral.’
    • ‘The pictures reflect an interest in the ephemeral, impermanent, transient nature of the world.’
    • ‘It is in this room that fleeting, ephemeral moments in time are transformed into lasting eternal pieces of art.’
    • ‘They are organized by season, and I find this clever and wonderfully suited: jam-making is really the art of canning an ephemeral moment of the year, to be enjoyed later when nostalgia strikes.’
    • ‘Always not quite there, within the poet's reach but not to be grasped, the ephemeral and transitory scenes open like views in a highly trafficked street, only to close again just as quickly.’
    • ‘But even that fleeting feeling, so ephemeral that you begin to doubt whether you really tasted its existence, is precious.’
    • ‘The quote places pop culture in context where every ephemeral moment is defined in time.’
    • ‘Trends are ephemeral, fleeting: by the time you've identified something, it's gone, or changed out of all recognition.’
    • ‘Being a woman and an artist does make a difference, in the same way that nationality, so crucial but so ephemeral in today's transient art world, does.’
    • ‘I'd live the transient and ephemeral existence of a backpacker for a week, an existence of freedom and simple pleasures.’
    • ‘He roams the continents, freezing those ephemeral moments of life.’
    • ‘Sometimes, there's a whole world to be discovered in the fine detail of an ephemeral mood or a fleeting emotion.’
    transitory, transient, fleeting, passing, short-lived, momentary, brief, short, cursory, temporary, impermanent, short-term
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (chiefly of plants) having a very short life cycle.
      ‘chickweed is an ephemeral weed, producing several generations in one season’
      • ‘Present plant communities are evidently ephemeral aggregations controlled by intersecting gradients of floral change.’
      • ‘This may allow for more confident distinction of ephemeral substrates from more stable habitats.’
      • ‘More generally, there are the well-known patterns whereby plants with large genomes cannot adopt an annual or ephemeral lifestyle and in which weeds tend to have small genomes.’
      • ‘They have short life spans and live on ephemeral food patches.’
      • ‘Spadefoot toad tadpoles and other species that develop in ephemeral pools have evolved traits that allow for successful development in an unpredictable environment.’
      • ‘This correlation is well established for ephemeral species.’
      • ‘Coriander is an ephemeral plant which only lasts two to three months so you need to regularly plant new Coriander in your herb garden.’
      • ‘It captures the familiar sight of memorials in the shape of crosses erected to road accident victims, decorated symbolically with ephemeral flowers.’
      • ‘Deceptively mundane, the stores are ephemeral polling and pollinating organs, transient fruit-bodies of information.’
      • ‘As ground moisture is pulled back into the dry atmosphere, ephemeral wildflowers slowly fade from the upland slopes, signaling harder times to come.’
      • ‘Within the bodies of brackish or salt water, an ephemeral microflora and fauna (indicated by rare acritarchs and microforam linings) developed.’
      • ‘Plants with short reproductive cycles, such as ephemeral and annual herbs, have genomes that are smaller on average than those with long cycles such as perennial herbs.’
      • ‘Bulbs have a very different life strategy from ephemeral weeds.’
      • ‘In northern Utah, Osmia lignaria propinqua emerge beginning in late April, coincident with the flowering of spring ephemeral herbs and shrubs.’


  • An ephemeral plant.

    ‘ephemerals avoid the periods of drought as seeds’
    • ‘For example, spring ephemerals (plants that grow in the short period in spring before trees produce leaves and reduce the light) will only be found in early spring, and only if they can obtain enough light in the early spring.’
    • ‘However, for accurate abundance information to be presented, sampling for spring ephemerals in forested communities should be conducted before overstory tree leafout.’
    • ‘Reduced competition for pollinators may be one advantage of early flowering, but for many of these spring ephemerals, time is the most pressing issue.’
    • ‘Spring ephemerals were not found in large numbers during the 1992 growing season because sampling was delayed.’
    • ‘There are over 1,000 plant species including 13 species of cacti - desert annuals referred to as ephemerals.’
    • ‘Wildflowers that grow beneath the canopy include so-called spring ephemerals - plants that usually come up in early April, bloom no later than the end of May, set seeds in May or June, and disappear by July.’
    • ‘The trend in species richness throughout the two growing seasons sampled in this study was a decline in numbers of species from May through July as spring ephemerals senesced.’
    • ‘The spring ephemerals were abundant; he could see primroses, violets, lungwort, and even the delicate blue forget-me-nots as he approached the wetland.’
    • ‘Seasonal changes in understory species from spring ephemerals to evergreen herbs are discussed in a number of contexts throughout the book.’
    • ‘However, the spring ephemerals and plants that flower during the spring are often difficult to identify when flowers are not present, and cannot reliably be identified late in the growing season.’
    • ‘It began as a vaguely naturalistic sprinkling of spring ephemerals among the ferns, blueberries, tupelos, oaks, and white pines spontaneously flourishing on abandoned farmland.’
    • ‘In their study, north-slope richness was greatest early in the growing season, due to an abundance of spring ephemerals; south-slope richness was greatest in early summer, due to greater importance of graminoids and composites.’
    • ‘Many of the ‘missing’ species were spring-flowering ephemerals observed to be frequent and abundant earlier in the growing season.’


Late 16th century: from Greek ephēmeros (see ephemera) + -al.