April 21, 2015
evanescent (adjective)
\ev-un-NESS-unt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: tending to vanish like a vapor : not lasting
How do you use it?
"The sea was each little bird's great playmate. In their airy flutterings they seemed to rest on the evanescent spray." (Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Footprints on the Seashore")
Are you a word wiz?

"Evanescent" came to English by way of the Latin verb "evanescere." Which word in the list below do you think also descends from "evanescere"?

You have long-lasting word skills if you chose C, "vanish." "Evanescent" and "vanish" share the Latin root "evanescere," which means "to dissipate like vapor, vanish." "Evanescere" derives from "vanescere," meaning "to vanish," which in turn traces to "vanus," which means "empty." But don't think you're going away empty-handed. Here's one more relative of "evanescent": "evanesce." Use this verb to convey the idea of dissipating like vapor, as in "Fashions may evanesce, but my jeans and t-shirt will always be in style."
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