It can be used to describe the common situation where a sustaining force is removed, but a dependent state persists -- for a time ...I knew the concept, but Google refused to resolve my descriptions into the word. I had no choice but to wait until someone used it. That took years! I just saw it in a Sci Am article on how a newly frail antarctic ice mass responds to climate change.
Hysteresis - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionarya retardation of an effect when the forces acting upon a body are changed (as if from viscosity or internal friction); especially : a lagging in the values of resulting magnetization in a magnetic material (as iron) due to a changing magnetizing force
I keep a short list of the handful of odd words I tend to lose (like gratuitous and vicarious), now hysteresis has a place of honor.