Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Word Up Wednesday

The fairy stopped walking and dashed under foliage. Something wasn't right. She peered through the leaves to see if there was someone on the path, but the shaded woodland trail was empty save for fallen twigs and loose pebbles.

She shook herself, giving off shimmers from her wings. She loved shaking herself and knew she looked ephemeral in the green forest light. But there again, something was different. The feeling she'd had while walking was back. Something felt off-balance. Again she checked her surroundings, but no goblins were in sight. Nothing bothered her-- no pesky water beetle picking at her boots. So what was it?

She shook herself again, imaging the ephemeral quality of her wings, and then she had it. She looked up to see it: a small tear in her top right wing. The torn wing shook when she wriggled. She stared at the rip, frozen by the knowledge. A large, fat tear rolled down her glittery face, encapsulating a thousand crushed diamonds. The torn wing was the beginning of her end, and she knew it.


All right, so. Did you catch this week's Word Up? Cause I didn't use it correctly! No! It's ephemeral, and it sure as heck does not mean shimmery or shiny or otherworldly or glowing. No siree. I've gone thirty -- well, I've gone many years thinking this pretty word meant that, thinking that it leant itself very well to fairy stories. I scribbled out the one above for you to see how well it fits, even, but it was a naughty trick to play if you don't know what it means. I didn't know its real meaning until last week.

It means short, as in a short life span. A water beetle's life is probably ephemeral, as is many other insects. You could use ephemeral to romanticize the death of someone whose life was cut much too short, and you could use it to describe the mad, desperate dash made by an animal or plant to procreate before being snuffed out. Some meanings have it as "lasting one day only."

So did you know what this pretty word meant? Did you catch it when I used it incorrectly?

8 comments:

Lt. Cccyxx said...

I like this word a lot because, as you said, it implies delicacy...and yet, it is scale-independent and about time, not physicality. A damselfly or a mountain: everything is ephemeral, depending on your perspective.

(cue Kansas song)

Tahereh said...

hahahaha i wonder if i'll sound pompous by saying yes, i do know what this word means.

but it's such a PRETTY word, isn't it? like transient. <-- also misunderstood a lot.

i think the word you're looking for is ethereal not ephemeral?

JEM said...

Woahs, I always thought it meant other wordly. Thanks for the education!

Simon C. Larter said...

Of course I caught the misuse. Duh.

And it is a pretty word. It could also be applied, not long from now, to your tenure as my nemesis. It's just a nicer way of saying, "Well THAT didn't last long, did it?"

Tina Lynn said...

Wow...didn't know that. But I don't think I've ever used that word either.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Ah.....I guess the right word WOULD be ethereal -- it means otherworldly, lacking in substance. Yes. However, I do believe it's close enough to ephemeral to cause confusion. I love those close sounding/looking words. I'll post more on them. Some I get all uppity about. In most cases I have no reason to get uppity. (Actually, ever.) But there you have it. I am a girl who likes to get uppity.

Susan Fields said...

No, I thought it meant shimmery and kind of see-through. Thanks for the correct definition - I would not have guess that!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Susan! Glad I wasn't the only one :)

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