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From Middle English momentare, from Late Latin mōmentārius (of brief duration), from mōmentum (a short time, an instant). By surface analysis, moment +‎ -ary.



momentary (comparative more momentary, superlative most momentary)

  1. Lasting for only a moment.
  2. Happening at every moment; perpetual.
  3. Ephemeral or relatively short-lived.
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “(Please specify the letter or volume)”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], →OCLC:
      Yet oh! what an immense difference did I feel between this impression of a pleasure merely animal, and struck out of the collision of the sexes by a passive bodily effect, from that sweet fury, that rage of active delight which crowns the enjoyments of a mutual love-passion, where two hearts, tenderly and truly united, club to exalt the joy, and give it a spirit and soul that bids defiance to that end which mere momentary desires generally terminate in, when they die of a surfeit of satisfaction!
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 20, in The Dust of Conflict[1]:
      Tony's face expressed relief, and Nettie sat silent for a moment until the vicar said “It was a generous impulse, but it may have been a momentary one, [] .”


Derived terms[edit]



  • momentary”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.