Etymology: Latin transeunt-, transiens, present participle of transire to cross, pass by, from trans- + ire to go — more at issue
a. passing especially quickly into and out of existence ; transitory <transient beauty> b. passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn <transient visitors> 2. affecting something or producing results beyond itself • transiently adverb Synonyms: transient, transitory, ephemeral, momentary, fugitive, fleeting, evanescent mean lasting or staying only a short time. transient applies to what is actually short in its duration or stay <a hotel catering primarily to transient guests>. transitory applies to what is by its nature or essence bound to change, pass, or come to an end <fame in the movies is transitory>. ephemeral implies striking brevity of life or duration <many slang words are ephemeral>. momentary suggests coming and going quickly and therefore being merely a brief interruption of a more enduring state <my feelings of guilt were only momentary>. fugitive and fleeting imply passing so quickly as to make apprehending difficult <let a fugitive smile flit across his face> <fleeting moments of joy>. evanescent suggests a quick vanishing and an airy or fragile quality <the story has an evanescent touch of whimsy that is lost in translation>. II. noun Date: 1652 1. one that is transient: as a. a transient guest b. a person traveling about usually in search of work 2. a. a temporary oscillation that occurs in a circuit because of a sudden change of voltage or of load b. a transient current or voltage
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.