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4148-transient 2.jpg


Latin transeunt-, transiens, present participle of transire to cross, pass by, from trans- + ire to go


  • 1 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


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>.


In acoustics and audio, a transient is a short-duration signal that represents a non-harmonic attack phase of a musical sound or spoken word. It contains a high degree of non-periodic components and a higher magnitude of high frequencies than the harmonic content of that sound. Transients do not directly depend on the frequency of the tone they initiate. Transients are difficult to encode with many audio compression algorithms, causing pre-echo.

A transient astronomical event, often simply called in context by astronomers a transient, is an astronomical object or phenomenon which can be observed for a short period of time. Singularly, the term is used for violent deep sky events such as supernovae and gamma ray bursts.

See also