- an infinitesimal or very short space of time; a moment: They arrived not an instant too soon.
- the point of time now present or present with reference to some action or event.
- a particular moment: at the instant of contact.
- a food or beverage, especially coffee, specially processed for quick preparation.
- Older Use. the present or current month.
- succeeding without any interval of time; prompt; immediate: instant relief from a headache.
- pressing or urgent: instant need.
- noting a food or beverage requiring a minimal amount of time and effort to prepare, as by heating or the addition of milk or water, before being served or used: instant coffee; instant pudding.
- occurring, done, or prepared with a minimal amount of time and effort; produced rapidly and with little preparation: an instant book; instant answers; instant history.
- designed to act or produce results quickly or immediately: an instant lottery.
- Older Use. of the present month: your letter of the 12th instant. Abbreviation: inst.Compare proximo, ultimo.
- present; current: the instant case before the court.
- a very brief time; moment
- a particular moment or point in timeat the same instant
- on the instant immediately; without delay
- immediate; instantaneous
- (esp of foods) prepared or designed for preparation with very little time and effortinstant coffee
- urgent or imperative
- (postpositive) (when abbreviated in formal correspondence)
- a poetic word for instantly
late 14c., “infinitely short space of time,” from Old French instant (adj.) “assiduous, at hand,” from Medieval Latin instantem (nominative instans), in classical Latin “present, pressing, urgent,” literally “standing near,” present participle of instare “to urge, to stand near, be present (to urge one’s case),” from in- “in” (see in- (2)) + stare “to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand” (see stet). Elliptical use of the French adjective as a noun.
mid-15c., “present, urgent,” from Old French instant (14c.), from Latin instantem (nominative instans) “pressing, urgent,” literally “standing near” (see instant (n.)). Meaning “now, present” is from 1540s, and led to the use of the word in dating of correspondence, in reference to the current month, often abbreviated inst. and persisting at least into the mid-19c. Thus 16th inst. means “sixteenth of the current month.” Sense of “immediately” is from 1590s. Of foods, by 1912. Televised sports instant replay attested by 1965. Instant messaging attested by 1994.