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  • Adj.

evanescent

ev-uh-NES-uhnt

Context
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The brilliant, quickly disappearing sight of the fiery comet swiftly speeding across the night sky was fleeting and evanescent. One moment Aaron pointed the comet out to his brother, and the next moment the evanescent, short-lived wonder was gone. The brothers didn’t want to miss a moment of this heavenly beauty, so they watched eagerly until the evanescent flash vanished, leaving the sky dark once again.

Quiz: When actor Harrison Ford said, “The actor’s popularity is evanescent,” what did he likely mean?

  • It is important to the actor’s career.
  • It doesn’t last for long.
  • It is meaningless and silly.

Memory Hook
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Vanishing Scent When the wind comes along, the evanescent scent of the lilies fills my nostrils with a glorious but quickly vanishing scent as the wind soon dies down.

Examples
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  • In some yards, mushrooms appear again and again in the same spot, often in a ring, and then fade away. Once, people thought these evanescent rings were magic and called them “fairy rings,” imagining them as enchanted places where forest spirits gathered to dance. —Chicago Tribune
  • [Theater] is such an evanescent thing. Each performance is a one-off thing; each show ends its run. . . . You try to remember it, but the details fade—or they take on the amber glow we wrap the very best memories in, which is a different kind of misremembering. —NPR
  • The [Wall Street] Journal was fat, happy and nicely profitable in the latter days of the 1990s stock-market bubble, as evanescent companies flush with money raised in the stock market bought ads right and left. . . . When the bubble vaporized, so did the ads. —The Washington Post
  • The administration has been scrambling ever since to reassure the world that it didn’t really throw away the whole hard-won historical framework of the Middle East peace process in exchange for such evanescent assurances. —Newsweek

Word Ingredients
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e- thoroughly
van empty, hollow, illusory
-escent becoming, beginning to be

Something evanescent soon is “becoming thoroughly hollow, empty, or illusory” because of its very short-lived nature.

Word Constellation
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Evanescent