lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory: the ephemeral joys of childhood.
lasting but one day: an ephemeral flower.


anything short-lived, as certain insects.

Origin of ephemeral

1570–80; < Greek ephḗmer(os) short-lived, lasting but a day (ep- ep- + hēmér(a) day + -os adj. suffix) + -al1
Related formse·phem·er·al·ly, adverbe·phem·er·al·ness, nounnon·e·phem·er·al, adjectivenon·e·phem·er·al·ly, adverbun·e·phem·er·al, adjectiveun·e·phem·er·al·ly, adverb

Synonyms for ephemeral

Antonyms for ephemeral

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ephemeral

Contemporary Examples of ephemeral

Historical Examples of ephemeral

British Dictionary definitions for ephemeral



lasting for only a short time; transitory; short-livedephemeral pleasure


a short-lived organism, such as the mayfly
a plant that completes its life cycle in less than one year, usually less than six months
Derived Formsephemerally, adverbephemerality or ephemeralness, noun

Word Origin for ephemeral

C16: from Greek ephēmeros lasting only a day, from hēmera day
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ephemeral

1560s; see ephemera + -al (1). Related: Ephemerality. Originally of diseases and lifespans; extended sense of "transitory" is from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper