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short-lived, temporary


ephemeral = kurzlebig, flüchtig, vergänglich, kurzdauernd



“I like the EPHEMERAL thing about theatre, every performance is like a ghost - it’s there and then it’s gone.”

Maggie Smith (British actress)

Did you


- lasting only for a short time

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


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.


Besides fame and fortune, many products are ephemeral — the “Bowlingual” dog-translator for instance.

Bowlingual claimed to translate different barks or woofs into about 200 human phrases and words. “You can never tell what dogs are thinking without becoming a dog yourself”, observed a company spokeswoman. She then added, “We hope dog lovers will use Bowlingual as an additional tool for them to play with their pets”.

As the saying goes, the company seemed to be “barking up the wrong tree” with this idea.


The words transient, transitory, ephemeral, momentary, fleeting, evanescent, all mean lasting or staying only for a short time:

- transient = applies to what is actually short in its duration or stay (Airport shops serve primarily transient passengers)

- transitory = applies to what is by its nature or essence bound to change, pass, or come to an end (An eclipse of the sun is transitory)

- ephemeral = implies striking brevity of life or duration (The mayfly, of the order Ephemeroptera, typically hatches, matures, mates, and dies within the span of a few short hours)

- momentary = suggests coming and going quickly and therefore being merely a brief interruption of a more enduring state (Feelings of sadness are often only momentary)

- fleeting = implies passing so quickly as to make apprehending difficult (When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye, I turned to look but it was gone)*

- evanescent = lasting for only a short time, then disappearing quickly and being forgotten (An evanescent rainbow appeared and quickly vanished after the storm)

*Lyrics from “Comfortably Numb” - Song by Pink Floyd

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“The EPHEMERAL nature of life is a constant reminder to make the most of every single day.”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:


Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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