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Ephemeral things (from Greek εφήμεροςephemeros, literally "lasting only one day") are transitory, existing only briefly. Typically the term is used to describe objects found in nature (such as some flowers, insects, and diseases) , although it can describe a wide range of things.


Geographical examples

An ephemeral waterbody is a wetland, spring, stream, river, pond or lake that only exists for a short period following precipitation or snowmelt. They are not the same as intermittent or seasonal waterbodies, which exist for longer periods, but not all year round.

Biological examples

Ephemeral plant

Many plants are adapted to an ephemeral lifestyle, in which they spend most of the year or longer as seeds before conditions are right for a brief period of growth and reproduction. The spring ephemeral plant mouse-ear cress is a well-known example.

Animals can be ephemeral, with brine shrimp and the mayfly being examples. The placenta is considered an ephemeral organ present during gestation and pregnancy.

Ephemeral artifacts


Ephemeral can also be used as an adjective to refer to a fast-deteriorating importance or temporary nature of an object to a person. Brands are notoriously ephemeral assets, magazine publishing was once much more ephemeral than it is today, as was television programming.

A number of art forms can be considered ephemeral because of their temporary nature. Early land art and all sand sculptures, ice sculptures and chalk drawings on footpaths are examples of ephemeral art. G. Augustine Lynas and Duthain Dealbh create ephemeral sculptures.

Other uses

Often happiness is described as being ephemeral, as one does not find it to be a permanent state, within the scope of human lives. There are always varying shades of happiness and disappointment.

Other uses also include:

  • Ephemeral film, a film made by a particular sponsor for a specific purpose other than as a work of art

Further reading


From New Latin ephemerus, from Ancient Greek ἐφήμερος (ephēmeros), the more common form of ἐφημέριος (ephemerios, “of, for, or during the day, living or lasting but for a day, short-lived, temporary”), from ἐπί (epi, “on”) + ἡμέρα (hēmera, “day”).


temporary, transitory, fleeting, evanescent, momentary, short-lived, short, volatile


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ephemeral" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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