Abiding memories and long-term effects: words that mean ‘lasting a long time’

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by Kate Woodford

Last week I posted a blog on the language we use to talk about things that last a short time. This post focuses on the opposite: describing things that last a long time.

Some adjectives simply mean ‘continuing for a long time’, such as lasting and prolonged:

Few books have made such a lasting impression on me.

She stressed the need to achieve lasting peace in the region.

Prolonged use of the drug is known to have harmful side-effects.

Stock prices declined as the financial sector faced a prolonged period of uncertainty.

Long-lasting can also apply to things that continue for a long time:

They had a long-lasting friendship.

Too much sun exposure can cause long-lasting skin damage.

Long-term simply describes something that continues a long time into the future:

We need long-term solutions to the problem.

Scientists aren’t sure of the long-term effects of the treatment.

Other adjectives that mean ‘lasting a long time’ can have additional meanings or associations which are negative. In fact, the number of slightly negative adjectives seems to suggest that we don’t like it when things continue for very long. Protracted, for example, means ‘lasting longer than necessary’:

The lawsuit was only settled after a protracted negotiation process.

More emphatic is drawn-out or long drawn-out, which suggests that something has continued for so long, it is boring:

He went into a long drawn-out explanation of why he’d left the company.

Meanwhile, a task that is never-ending continues for so long, you think it will never end:

There are so many problems to fix – it’s just never-ending.

An experience that is interminable is boring because it continues for too long:

We sat on the runway for an interminable delay.

The last scene of the play was interminable.

Chronic is applied to medical conditions or other problems that continue to exist and are not fixed easily:

She suffers from chronic back pain.

There’s a chronic shortage of nursing staff nationally.

Another adjective that is often used of medical problems is persistent. A persistent cough, rash, etc. lasts for a long time or is very difficult to get rid of:

My fever is gone, but I still have this persistent cough.

There are other ‘lasting a long time’ adjectives that do not have these negative associations. Enduring, for example, often describes pleasant or neutral things:

The new animated movie’s wild success proves the enduring appeal of cartoons.

I have many fond and enduring memories from that period.

She had a remarkably enduring career.

Likewise, the adjective abiding is free of negative associations. An abiding feeling or memory is one that you have for a long time:

My abiding memory is of a very courteous and charming man.

I’ll end with a couple of phrases. For some time means ‘for a long period’:

The shouting went on for some time.

To describe something that continues for too long, you might say it goes on and on:

I’ve never heard a speech like it. It just went on and on.


13 thoughts on “Abiding memories and long-term effects: words that mean ‘lasting a long time’

  1. Maryem Salama

    Now, it seems very clear the title of that American movie Low abiding citizen. Thank you, Kate it is really interesting post.

  2. Paula McMillan

    A very interesting article Kate, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Even though English is my native language I have always enjoyed learning about it as I find it a fascinating subject.

  3. Sabrina

    “The new animated movie’s wild success proves the enduring appeal of cartoons.”

    “wild” or “wide”?

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi Sabrina! ‘Wild’ makes more sense here. It simply serves to emphasize the success. Best wishes!

  4. Denis

    Dear Kate,

    I’m wondering if ‘long-lasting’ and ‘long-term’ could be used interchangeably. More specifically, I’m interested in whether or not we can use ‘long-lasting’ for things that we hope will last for a long time. For instance, would the following sentence be correct: ‘I presented B2B legal and accounting services to prospective customers, attempting to attain their consent to a long-lasting relationship as well as coaxing them into signing a long-term agreement.’?

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