1. A brief, indefinite interval of time.
a. A specific point in time, especially the present time: He is not here at the moment.
b. A point in time that is gratifying or noteworthy: Even working on a dictionary has its moments.
c. An occasion affording an opportunity: viewed the blunder as a teachable moment.
3. A particular period of importance, influence, or significance in a series of events or developments: a great moment in history; waiting for her big moment.
4. Outstanding significance or value; importance: a discovery of great moment.
5. A brief period of time that is characterized by a quality, such as excellence, suitability, or distinction: a lackluster performance that nevertheless had its moments.
a. An essential or constituent element, as of a complex idea.
b. A phase or aspect of a logically developing process.
7. Abbr. M Physics
a. The product of a quantity, such as force or mass, and its perpendicular distance from a reference point.
b. The tendency to cause rotation about a point or axis.
8. Statistics The expected value of a positive integer power of a random variable. The first moment of a random variable is the mean of its probability distribution.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin mōmentum, from *movimentum; see MOMENTUM.]
Synonyms: moment, instant, minute1, second1, jiffy, flash
These nouns denote a brief interval of time. A moment is an indeterminately short but significant period: I'll be with you in a moment. Instant is a period of time almost too brief to detect; it implies haste: He hesitated for just an instant. Minute is often interchangeable with moment and second with instant: The alarm will ring any minute. I'll be back in a second. Jiffy and flash are somewhat informal and usually combine with in a; in a jiffy means in a short space of time, while in a flash suggests the almost imperceptible duration of a flash of light: He went to the store but will be back in a jiffy. She finished the job in a flash. See Also Synonyms at importance.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.