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illustration Moment



Part of speech: noun

Origin: Latin, 14th century


A brief, unmeasured period of time


(historical) One-fortieth of an hour, or 90 seconds

Examples of Moment in a sentence

"Please wait just a moment while I finish putting dinner on the table."

"The prize of his garden was an antique sundial, measuring out the time in moments, rather than minutes."

About Moment

Today you might ask someone to "give me a moment," but they probably won't be timing you. Now a moment is an unmeasured, short period of time — usually a few minutes or less. But before your handy alarm clock, people relied on the sundial. The length of the solar hour varied with the seasons, but the average length of a moment (or momentum) was 90 seconds. On a sundial, each day was still divided up into 24 hours, but each hour contained 4 puncta, 10 minuta, and 40 momenta.

Did you Know?

The word moment, now used to refer to a brief flash of time — "I'll be ready in just a moment!" — has roots in Latin. The Latin word, "momentum," can refer to time, but was also used to refer to motion. The original meaning of moment is 90 seconds, or 1/40 of the movement around a sundial in an hour.

illustration Moment

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