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This Week’s Word: Ephemeral
/ɪˈfɛm ər əl/ [ih-fem-er-uh l]
Ephemeral describes something short-lived or something that lasts for only a day.
Synonyms: Fleeting, evanescent, transitory
Word History: The term ephemera was adopted into 14th century English from Latin as a medical term, describing a fever or ailment that lasted only a day. The Latin traces even further back to the Greek ephḗmeros, meaning of/for/during the day. Now the noun ephemeron (pl. ephemera), denoting something short-lived or meant for limited use, is less common than the adjective ephemeral. However, the form of the word with the -al suffix can also be used as a noun to denote something that lives for a day or a short while, such as a flower or insect.
Sample 1: Some argue that pop culture in the age of the internet is much more ephemeral than it was when the television reigned supreme; the “information superhighway” has sped our access to new ideas up so much that widespread fads, jokes, and even debates last only a short while before being replaced by the next big thing.
Sample 2: At the end of the movie, Roxie learns that the public’s macabre interest in her crime was entirely ephemeral, fading immediately after her acquittal.
Sample 3: Yuki saves tickets, postcards, notes, and other ephemera for her scrapbook.
This Week’s Word: Desiccate
/ˈdɛs ɪˌkeɪt/ [des-i-keyt]
The verb desiccate can be used with or without an object and means to thoroughly dry up or dry out. It may be used in the context of dehydrating food in order to preserve it.
Synonyms: dehydrate, parch, drain, exsiccate
Etymology: From the Latin desiccatus, the past participle form of “to make very dry.”
Sample: Months of drought had completely desiccated the once well-manicured lawn.
Sample 2: The hot sun desiccated the cat’s corpse within a matter of days.