Ephemeral vs Decay - What's the difference?

ephemeral | decay |

As nouns the difference between ephemeral and decay

is that ephemeral is something which lasts for a short period of time while decay is the process or result of being gradually decomposed.

As an adjective ephemeral

is lasting for a short period of time.

As a verb decay is

to deteriorate, to get worse, to lose strength or health, to decline in quality.



(en noun)
  • Something which lasts for a short period of time.
  • Synonyms

    * (short-lived) ephemeron


    (en adjective)
  • Lasting for a short period of time.
  • * Vicesimus Knox
  • Esteem, lasting esteem, the esteem of good men, like himself, will be his reward, when the gale of ephemeral popularity shall have gradually subsided.
  • * Sir J. Stephen
  • sentences not of ephemeral , but of eternal, efficacy
  • * '>citation
  • It was during an access of this kind that I suddenly left my home, and bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral , because human, sorrows.
  • (biology) Existing for only one day, as with some flowers, insects, and diseases.
  • (geology, of a body of water) Usually dry, but filling with water for brief periods during and after precipitation.
  • * 1986 , W.H. Raymond, "Clinoptilolite Deposit in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, U.S.A.", in Y?ichi Murakami et al. (editors), New Developments in Zeolite Science and Technology (conference proceedings), Elsevier, ISBN 978-0-444-98981-9, page 80:
  • The graben constitutes a depositional basin and a topographic low, underlain by Cretaceous shales, in which volcanic debris accumulated in ephemeral lakes and streams in Oligocene and early Miocene time.


    * (lasting for a short period of time) temporary, transitory, fleeting, evanescent, momentary, short-lived, short, volatile * See also


    * (lasting for a long period of time) permanent, eternal, everlasting, timeless.

    Derived terms

    * ephemerally



    (wikipedia decay)


  • The process or result of being gradually decomposed.
  • * 1895 , H. G. Wells, The Time Machine Chapter X
  • I fancied at first the stuff was paraffin wax, and smashed the jar accordingly. But the odor of camphor was unmistakable. It struck me as singularly odd, that among the universal decay , this volatile substance had chanced to survive, perhaps through many thousand years.
  • A deterioration of condition.
  • Derived terms

    * bacterial decay * decayability * decayable * decayer * orbital decay * particle decay * radioactive decay


    (en verb)
  • To deteriorate, to get worse, to lose strength or health, to decline in quality.
  • The pair loved to take pictures in the decaying hospital on forty-third street.
  • # (intransitive, electronics, of storage media or the data on them) To undergo , that is, gradual degradation.
  • # (intransitive, computing, of software) To undergo , that is, to fail to be updated in a changing environment,so as to eventually become legacy or obsolete.
  • # (intransitive, physics, of a satellite's orbit) To undergo prolonged reduction in altitude (above the orbited body).
  • 2009 , Francis Lyall, Paul B. Larsen, Space Law: A Treatise , page 120:
  • Damaged on lift-off, Skylab was left in orbit until its orbit decayed .
  • (of organic material) To rot, to go bad.
  • The cat's body decayed rapidly.
  • (intransitive, transitive, physics, chemistry, of an unstable atom) To change by undergoing fission, by emitting radiation, or by capturing or losing one or more electrons.
  • * 2005 , Encyclopedia of Earth Science (edited by Timothy M. Kusky; ISBN 0-8160-4973-4), page 349:
  • Uranium decays to radium through a long series of steps with a cumulative half-life of 4.4 billion years.
  • (intransitive, transitive, physics, of a quantum system) To undergo , that is, to relax to a less excited state, usually by emitting a photon or phonon.
  • (aviation)
  • To cause to rot or deteriorate.
  • The extreme humidity decayed the wooden sculptures in the museum's collection in a matter of years.
  • * Shakespeare
  • Infirmity, that decays the wise.