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Words of the day — ephemeral

Good morning, Netizens...

February 21, 2013

Words of the Day

  • ephemeral
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ih-FEM-uh-rul\


: lasting a very short time

The young pop star's fame turned out to be ephemeral.

"During the creation of the ephemeral show—the walls will be erased for a new exhibition later this month, leaving only a series of framed drawings behind—Ms. Dary visited the local library and copied pages from a 100-year-old local directory." — From an article by Tammy La Gorce in the New York Times, January 4, 2013


The mayfly (order Ephemeroptera) typically hatches, matures, mates, and dies within the span of a few short hours (though the longest-lived species may survive a record two days); poets sometimes use this insect to symbolize life's ephemeral nature. When "ephemeral" (from the Greek word "ephēmeros," meaning "lasting a day") first appeared in print in English in the late 16th century, it was a scientific term applied to short-term fevers, and later, to organisms (such as insects and flowers) with very short life spans. Soon after that, it acquired an extended sense referring to anything fleeting and short-lived (as in "ephemeral pleasures").

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.