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From French évanescent, from Latin ēvānēscēns (vanishing, disappearing).



evanescent (comparative more evanescent, superlative most evanescent)

  1. Vanishing, disappearing.
    • 1837, Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Footprints on the Sea-Shore" in Twice-Told Tales:
      The sea was each little bird's great playmate. . . . In their airy flutterings, they seemed to rest on the evanescent spray.
    • 1911, Anna Katharine Green, Initials Only, ch. 19:
      . . . making the ideal of my foolish girlhood seem as unsubstantial and evanescent as a dream in the glowing noontide.
  2. Ephemeral, momentary, fleeting.
    Synonym: see Thesaurus:ephemeral
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, ch. 46:
      In times of strong emotion mankind disdain all base considerations; but such times are evanescent.
  3. Barely there; almost imperceptible.
    • 1888, Thomas Hardy, "The Withered Arm":
      Her face too was fresh in colour, but it was of a totally different quality—soft and evanescent, like the light under a heap of rose-petals.
    • 1907, Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent, ch. 7:
      While he was speaking the hands on the face of the clock behind the great man's back—a heavy, glistening affair of massive scrolls in the same dark marble as the mantelpiece, and with a ghostly, evanescent tick—had moved through the space of seven minutes.
    • 1916, D. H. Lawrence, Twilight in Italy, ch. 1:
      And I was pale, and clear, and evanescent, like the light, and they were dark, and close, and constant, like the shadow.


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