A moment is a brief but unspecified period of time. The time it takes to read this sentence or this paragraph is both equivalent to the length of a moment. A moment is also a specified point in time. For example, when Teddy says: “at that moment, she jumped.” The moment Teddy was describing is specific at when it happened, but not how long it took to happen. Building on this definition, a moment can also mean an opportune time, such as “at the right moment…” or a period of significant changes in history, such as “… is one of the great moments in history.” Other than its relation to time, another definition of moment is the importance or concern of something. This definition is usually formally used, such as: “The show was of great moment.” Lastly, moment, short for moment of force, is also used in the field of physics, describing the likeliness of a force to rotate an object.
The word moment came from the word momentum in Latin during the late Middle Ages, primarily meaning movement or the power to move. Though un-confirmed, rumor has it that the evolution from momentum to moment came from the tiny movement of a scale’s pointer when a small object is massed, and from the small tick came the relationship of time, coining the word moment. Later in the 1520s, the definition of importance and weight was added to the word.
Other than the simple usage of this word in casual conversations, moment is also often used in discussions of philosophy and architecture. In previous definitions, a moment is something significant, an opportune time. Similarly in ancient Greek, kairos is the opportune moment; kairos is the time which substantial changes could occur, if one choses to seize the opportunity. A great moment in architecture is when the architect already took the opportunity, the sudden insight, and transferred it to architecture. A great moment in architecture is a combination of superior organization and design of space, plus the seamless yet ingenious integration of program/function. In the meanwhile, all of these superior qualities must be able to be experienced and related by the occupant of the space unobtrusively. In architecture, the definition of moment embraces the spatial properties of a building, and its socially determined importance as time progresses. Therefore if a moment is truly terrific, the building and the central idea of its program can and will not exist without the moment, the binding element of the entire structure.
x, representing a moment in time
moment. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moment (accessed: November 20, 2012).
moment. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moment (accessed: November 20, 2012).