Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: ephem|era
Pronunciation: /ɪˈfɛm(ə)rə
, -ˈfiːm-/

Definition of ephemera in English:

plural noun

1Things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time: there were papers, letters, old boxes—all sorts of ephemera
More example sentences
  • If you're an aficionado of arcane ephemera, you'll enjoy flipping through this at least once.
  • Load up on cool ephemera and tacky souvenirs: NYPD snow domes, stick-on bullet holes, match books, carrier bags, free postcards, anything that says I heart NY.
  • They were part of our lifetime, and their ephemera exists, pristine and whole, not yet chipped or broken, faulty with age, and to me, they are proof positive that monsters are real.
1.1Collectable items that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity: Mickey Mouse ephemera
More example sentences
  • In effect, therefore, each participant was left to decide whether ‘snapshot’ constituted a category of one's own camera activity, a variety of keepsake, or a genre of collectible ephemera.
  • As an ephemera collector from way back, I am particular vexed by the suggestion that history holds negligible value in a culture dominated by technological excess.
  • This show of some 165 prints and related ephemera is the first in-depth assessment of the artist's work.


late 16th century: plural of ephemeron, from Greek, neuter of ephēmeros 'lasting only a day'. As a singular noun the word originally denoted a plant said by ancient writers to last only one day, or an insect with a short lifespan, and hence was applied (late 18th century) to a person or thing of short-lived interest. Current use has been influenced by plurals such as trivia and memorabilia.

  • An ephemera or ephemeron was originally a fever lasting only one day, an insect with a very short lifespan, or a plant thought to last a day. Some ancient writers thought there were two plants of this name, one that sprang up and died in a day, the other that carried a poison causing death within a day. The word was then applied to a person or thing of short-lived interest. It appeared in its current plural sense in the 1930s, to describe items like tickets, posters, and greetings cards that were of no enduring value except to collectors. Ephemera and its contemporary ephemeral ‘lasting for a very short time’, are from Greek ephēmeros ‘lasting only a day’, from hēmera ‘day’.

Words that rhyme with ephemera


Definition of ephemera in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day interfuse
Pronunciation: ɪntəˈfjuːz
join or mix (two or more things) together