definition of ephemeral

The term ephemeral is a qualifying adjective that is used to designate those things or circumstances that last for a short time and that occur briefly. The concept of ephemeral comes from the Greek, ephemers, which literally means 'that lasts a single day'. Although this meaning implied the duration of a day, the term later came to be used for all those events, circumstances or things that tended to be short-lived and soon to disappear.

Normally, the term ephemeral is used mostly for natural events or phenomena since many of them can last only a few seconds and, although they are repeated over and over again, their specific duration is very short. This type of event can be very varied and go from the generation of a bubble to the generation of a wave in the sea, or of certain animal behaviors that last very little. In this sense, the notion of ephemeral generally also implies the notion of delicacy.

However, ephemeral events or circumstances do not occur only in the space of nature, but many creations and situations related to human beings can be considered ephemeral. This is especially so in postmodern societies in which the interest in constant change, in the development of new technologies, in permanent growth and in the discovery of new and unique sensations are characteristics present in any social group. In this sense, many elements of our current life can be considered ephemeral and, although not all of them, many of them are related to this type of postmodern societies to which we refer.

Examples of ephemeral situations or things for the human being can be the technological devices that minute by minute are improved and surpassed, the news that has ephemeral duration due to the constant influx of news or phenomena such as the same human relationships that, today, they tend to last much less than what happened centuries ago.