fleeting vs momentaneous what difference

what is difference between fleeting and momentaneous



From Middle English fleten (to float), from Old English flēotan (to float), from Proto-Germanic *fleutaną, from Proto-Indo-European *plewd-.


  • IPA(key): /ˈfliːtɪŋ/


fleeting (comparative more fleeting, superlative most fleeting)

  1. Passing quickly; of short duration.
    • 1931, Martha Kinross, “The Screen — From This Side”, The Fortnightly, Volume 130, page 511:
      Architecture, sculpture, painting are static arts. Even in literature “our flying minds,” as George Meredith says, cannot contain protracted description. It is so; for from sequences of words they must assemble all the details in one simultaneous impression. But moments of fleeting beauty too transient to be caught by any means less swift than light itself are registered on the screen.
    • 2003, Gabrielle Walker, Snowball Earth: The Story of a Maverick Scientist and His Theory of the Global Catastrophe That Spawned Life As We Know It, Three Rivers Press (2003), →ISBN, pages 34-35:
      During the fleeting summer months of his field season, when the outer vestiges of winter melted briefly, there were ponds and pools and lakes of water everywhere.
    • 2008, Barbara L. Bellman & Susan Goldstein, Flirting After Fifty: Lessons for Grown-Up Women on How to Find Love Again, iUniverse (2008), →ISBN, page 12:
      For starters, we see examples all the time of some middle-aged men trying to hang onto their own fleeting youth by sporting younger women on their arms.
    • 2010, Leslie Ludy, The Lost Art of True Beauty: The Set-Apart Girl’s Guide to Feminine Grace, Harvest House Publishers (2010), →ISBN, page 5:
      And I am inspired afresh to pursue the stunning beauty of Christ rather than the fleeting beauty of this world.


  • ephemeral
  • See also Thesaurus:ephemeral.


Usage notes

Often used with nouns indicating mental, perceptual, or emotional states, such as: “a fleeting thought”, “a fleeting glimpse” “a fleeting impression”, “a fleeting hope”, or to indicate that the shortness of duration might be regretted : “fleeting beauty”, “fleeting youth”.



  1. present participle of fleet



From Latin momentaneus. Compare French momentané.


momentaneous (not comparable)

  1. (grammar) Of or relating to a grammatical aspect relating to an action that takes place at a specific point in time.
  2. (archaic) momentary

Derived terms

  • momentaneously
  • momentaneousness

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