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Temporary vs. Permanent: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
Temporary implies short-lived, while Permanent denotes lasting or unchanging.

Key Differences

Temporary and Permanent are words used to describe the duration or constancy of a particular state or condition. Temporary refers to something that lasts for a limited period of time and is not intended to continue indefinitely. On the other hand, Permanent points to something that is meant to last indefinitely or for a very long time, without any anticipated end.
Temporary items or situations are transient and might exist due to certain circumstances or conditions. For instance, a temporary job might be available only for a certain project or season. Conversely, Permanent items or situations are enduring and do not change easily. A permanent job, for instance, is not tied to a specific project or season.
Temporary solutions or arrangements might be made to address an immediate need or problem, with the understanding that they will be replaced or altered later. An example might be a temporary fix for a leaky roof. In contrast, Permanent solutions or arrangements are those that are expected to remain unchanged and serve for a long time, like building a new roof instead of patching the old one.
Temporary emotions or feelings may arise in response to a specific event or stimulus but fade over time. Someone might feel temporary joy after receiving good news. Permanent feelings or attitudes, on the other hand, are deeply ingrained and do not easily change. One might have a permanent sense of gratitude towards a life-saving action.
Temporary structures or objects are designed for short-term use or are prone to wear and tear quickly. A temporary shelter might be erected in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Permanent structures or objects are built to last and withstand time and elements, such as a brick house built to be a long-lasting home.

Comparison Chart


Lasts for a limited period.
Lasts indefinitely or for a very long time.


Not intended to last long-term.
Designed to remain unchanged.


Can change or end easily.
Resistant to change.


Might not be as reliable due to its short-term nature.
Generally more reliable due to its enduring nature.

Examples in Grammar

"I have a temporary job." (adjective)
"This is a permanent solution." (adjective)

Temporary and Permanent Definitions


Intended for short-term use.
They set up a temporary shelter after the storm.


Lasting or intended to last indefinitely.
Tattoos are usually permanent.


Not permanent.
She took a temporary position at the company.


Remaining unchanged.
The trauma left a permanent scar on his psyche.


Existing or occurring for a brief period.
His stay was only temporary.


Continual or everlasting.
She has a permanent residence in the city.


Serving for the time being.
She's the temporary manager until they find a replacement.


Fixed in place.
The statue is a permanent fixture in the park.


Lasting for a limited time.
This is just a temporary setup for the event.


Not subject to change.
This is a permanent decision.


Lasting, used, serving, or enjoyed for a limited time.


Lasting or remaining without essential change
"the universal human yearning for something permanent, enduring, without shadow of change" (Willa Cather).


One that serves for a limited time
An office staffed by temporaries.


Not expected to change in status, condition, or place
A permanent address.
Permanent secretary to the president.


Not permanent; existing only for a period or periods of time.
Sally was put in temporary charge of the department while they searched for a full-time replacement.


Any of several long-lasting hair styles usually achieved by chemical applications that straighten, curl, or wave the hair.


Existing only for a short time or short times; transient, ephemeral.


Without end, eternal.
Nothing in this world is truly permanent.


One serving for a limited time; short-term employee.


Lasting for an indefinitely long time.
The countries are now locked in a permanent state of conflict.


(programming) A short-term variable used to store an intermediate result.


A chemical hair treatment imparting or removing curliness, whose effects typically last for a period of weeks; a perm.


Lasting for a time only; existing or continuing for a limited time; not permanent; as, the patient has obtained temporary relief.
Temporary government of the city.


Given an n \times n matrix a_{ij} \,, the sum over all permutations \pi \, of \prod_{i=1}^n{a_{i\pi(i)}}.


Not permanent; not lasting;
Politics is an impermanent factor of life
Impermanent palm cottages
A temperary arrangement
Temporary housing


(trading card games) A card whose effects persist beyond the turn on which it is played.


Lacking continuity or regularity;
An irregular worker
Employed on a temporary basis


To perm (the hair).


Continuing in the same state, or without any change that destroys form or character; remaining unaltered or unremoved; abiding; durable; fixed; stable; lasting; as, a permanent impression.
Eternity stands permanent and fixed.


A series of waves in the hair made by applying heat and chemicals


Continuing or enduring without marked change in status or condition or place;
Permanent secretary to the president
Permanent address
Literature of permanent value


Not capable of being reversed or returned to the original condition;
Permanent brain damage


What does Temporary imply?

Temporary implies something that is short-lived or transient.

What's the main difference between Temporary and Permanent?

Temporary denotes a limited duration, while Permanent indicates lasting or unchanging.

Do temporary emotions last long?

Temporary emotions arise in response to events and usually fade over time.

Can something Permanent become Temporary?

In some contexts, yes, but generally, Permanent implies lasting nature while Temporary is fleeting.

What's an example of a Permanent decision?

Choosing to get a tattoo is often considered a permanent decision.

Are permanent markers truly permanent?

While called "permanent," they can sometimes be removed from certain surfaces with the right solvents.

Is a temporary arrangement meant to last?

No, a temporary arrangement is not intended to last indefinitely.

Can Permanent structures be torn down?

Yes, while Permanent structures are built to last, they can still be torn down or replaced.

Do temporary solutions usually address long-term problems?

Temporary solutions typically address immediate needs, but may not solve long-term issues.

Can something be semi-permanent?

Yes, semi-permanent typically means it lasts longer than temporary but is not truly permanent.

How is a permanent resident different from a temporary resident?

A permanent resident has the right to live in a country indefinitely, while a temporary resident has limited time.

Are Permanent changes irreversible?

Often they are, but it depends on the context.

Is a temporary employee entitled to the same benefits as a permanent employee?

It varies by employer and country, but typically temporary employees have different benefit structures.

Why might someone take a temporary job?

They might take it for immediate income, short-term employment, or while looking for a permanent role.

What's the opposite of Temporary?

The opposite of Temporary is Permanent.

Is permanence always a positive trait?

Not necessarily. Whether permanence is positive depends on the context.

Can a Temporary situation become Permanent?

Yes, under certain circumstances, a temporary situation can evolve into a permanent one.

Can something be both Temporary and Permanent in different aspects?

Yes, for instance, a marker might have a permanent ink but a temporary lifespan.

Which lasts longer, Temporary or Permanent?

Permanent denotes lasting or unchanging, so it lasts longer than Temporary.

Does temporary always mean short-lived?

Typically, yes, but the exact duration can vary based on context.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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