Definition of transient in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈtranzɪənt/


1Lasting only for a short time; impermanent: a transient cold spell
More example sentences
  • The pictures reflect an interest in the ephemeral, impermanent, transient nature of the world.
  • As I looked at this contrast between living, transient beauty and cold mortality, I thought: ‘Et in Arcadia, ego’.
  • She was panting: her breath forming strings of transient puffs in the cold air.
transitory, temporary, short-lived, short-term, ephemeral, impermanent, brief, short, momentary;
fleeting, flying, evanescent, passing, fugitive, fading, mutable, unstable, volatile, here today and gone tomorrow, fly-by-night
rare fugacious
1.1Staying or working in a place for a short time only: the transient nature of the labour force in catering
More example sentences
  • Thanks to their dazzling diversity of color, furtive nature, and transient presence, warblers and their fellow neotropical migrants monopolize spring birding.
  • Since 1999, the territorial government has been coping with hundreds of staff vacancies and a highly transient work force - and few employees who want to stay in their jobs for long.
  • While the furthest camping section is the refuge of transient workers looking for an affordable place to stay, tourists are most likely to make use of the cabins and dorms.


1A person who is staying or working in a place for a short time only.
Example sentences
  • The law had been applied to hotels and motels to collect a tax from transients, vacationers, and travelers, who stay overnight in Alabama.
  • Drug addicts, especially injecting drug users, sex workers, those in prison and those referred to as transients and migrants remain at the top of the nation's list of ‘high-risk’ groups.
  • The editorial page was happy about it, but reminded us how downtown had lost so many SRO (single-room occupancy) hotels like this one, displacing transients and day-laborers.
2A momentary variation in current, voltage, or frequency.
Example sentences
  • The AA300 Series integrated load center lets users tailor protection against harmful voltage transients.
  • The series is immune to short voltage transients.
  • We use fluorescent amphiphilic dyes which are well established to record voltage transients in neurons at low to medium resolution.



Pronunciation: /ˈtranzɪəntli/
Example sentences
  • Though the fragments may constitute recognizable figures at points, they will do so only transiently.
  • Instead, a method has been developed, the ‘light doubling’ technique, that allows the contribution of photochemical quenching to be transiently reduced to zero.
  • This circular DNA is attached, at least transiently, to the inner mitochondrial membrane.


Late 16th century: from Latin transient- 'going across', from the verb transire, from trans- 'across' + ire 'go'.

  • transit from Late Middle English:

    Transit initially meant ‘passage from one place to another’. It is from Latin transire ‘go across’. The grammatical term transitive (late 16th century) for verbs that ‘go across’ to an object is from the same source, as are trance (Middle English), and transient (Late Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tran¦si|ent

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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