This Week’s Word:
/ɪˈfɛm ər əl/ [ih-fem-er-uh l]
Ephemeral describes something short-lived or something that lasts for only a day.
Squirrel Corn is a spring ephemeral, a plant that grows and blooms in early spring and lies dormant for the rest of the year.
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.