Today’s post looks at words and phrases that describe things that end after a short time. A very common adjective for this is brief. A brief activity or period of time does not last long:
We had a brief phone conversation.
For a brief period she taught in the US.
Fashion is by definition ephemeral.
He caught a fleeting glimpse of her as she walked past.
There was a momentary hesitation before she spoke.
Something that is passing lasts only a short time and is therefore unimportant:
It was nothing – just a passing phase.
Short-lived, meanwhile, usually describes a feeling or experience that ends after a short time:
His enthusiasm for the subject was fairly short-lived.
She’d had one or two short-lived relationships.
Temporary is a very common word to describe things that are brief. A situation or arrangement that is temporary is intended only for a short period:
This is only a temporary solution to the problem.
He’s found a temporary job.
An adjective with a very similar meaning is short-term:
Most of these people are employed on short-term contracts.
The bank only offers short-term loans.
There are also a number of words used to describe situations that are not meant to be permanent. A stopgap is a temporary arrangement that is in place until a better arrangement is found:
Hostels are used as a stopgap until permanent accommodation is found.
An arrangement or plan that is intended for a short period and is likely to change may be described as provisional:
These dates are only provisional.
The country was ruled by a provisional government until new elections could be held.
Similarly, a caretaker government/manager is doing the job of government/manager until a permanent one is in place:
A caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the season.
The adjective interim is used in the same way:
An interim government was set up to oversee the transition.
A pop-up shop/restaurant/gallery is one that is intended to operate for only a short period, often using a building that was previously empty:
Chefs often use pop-up restaurants to test out new ideas.
Such a place is sometimes also referred to simply as a pop-up:
It’s just a pop-up – it’s closing in December.
Of course, there are also idioms that describe things that are brief. Something that is successful only once and for a very short period may be described as a flash in the pan:
She’s determined to prove that her team’s success is no flash in the pan.
A phrase that is sometimes said of something that lasts only a short time is here today, gone tomorrow:
Sadly, like so many independent shops in this area, it’s here today, gone tomorrow.
Next week, we’ll look at words that describe things that last a long time.