in·​stant | \ ˈin(t)-stənt How to pronounce instant (audio) \

Definition of instant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an infinitesimal space of time especially : a point in time separating two states at the instant of death
2 : the present or current month



Definition of instant (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : produced or occurring with or as if with extreme rapidity and ease
2 : immediate, direct the play was an instant success
3a(1) : premixed or precooked for easy final preparation instant pudding
(2) : appearing in or as if in ready-to-use form instant poetry
b : immediately soluble in water instant coffee
4a : present, current previous felonies not related to the instant crime
b : of or occurring in the present month abbreviation inst

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Other Words from instant


instantness noun

Examples of instant in a Sentence

Noun For an instant, I forgot where I was. The ride was over in an instant. Adjective The movie was an instant hit. He became an instant celebrity with the publication of his first novel. We got an instant response from the company. The Internet provides instant access to an enormous amount of information. Is this coffee instant or regular?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The pandemic can wipe out a potential once-in-a-lifetime Olympic opportunity in an instant: a positive test prevented American Katie Lou Samuelson, who’s fully vaccinated, from competing in the first-ever Olympic 3-on-3 basketball competition. Sean Gregory / Tokyo, Time, 21 July 2021 But as Azerbaijan has no doubt taught him, all that hard work could come undone in an instant. Amanda Davies And Matias Grez, CNN, 16 July 2021 By becoming the youngest grandmaster, Karjakin would, in an instant, assume a title once held by Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, one that even world champions like Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen had never earned. New York Times, 13 July 2021 The women are shown in a dreamlike dinner scene, throwing glasses, randomly disappearing, and walking in slow motion in outfits that change in an instant. Kristen Bateman, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 July 2021 This easily expands into an upright table to be enjoyed in an instant. Chris Hachey, BGR, 6 July 2021 All escape routes, survivors said, had disappeared in an instant. oregonlive, 1 July 2021 Gone in an instant were parents and their young or adult children, sets of siblings, married couples, grandparents and their grandchildren — leaving their survivors grief-stricken and their family trees with gaping holes. New York Times, 8 July 2021 Their size precludes seeing them in a glance, and their profusion of detail precludes comprehending them in an instant. Washington Post, 7 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Place the emphasis on instilling lasting values rather than obtaining instant gratification. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, 13 July 2021 Han was an instant fan favorite and something of a pet project for director Justin Lin, with a version of the character having appeared in the director’s second film, Better Luck Tomorrow. Tres Dean, Vulture, 23 June 2021 Even so, instant gratification is a difficult habit to break. Meghan O'gieblyn, Wired, 16 June 2021 In April, ilāpothecary introduced its new Save-Face Serum, which became an instant fan-favorite. Angela Lei, Forbes, 12 May 2021 As if to underline the significance of the moment, the orchestra made a dramatic European-style entrance, converging on the stage all at once and sparking from the crowd an instant ovation, one that seemed unusually heartfelt., 13 July 2021 The Wellness Kitchen is stocked with spring water infused with fruit; colleagues chat with each other on S-Chat, the company’s in-house instant messenger. Washington Post, 12 July 2021 Merging with an already existing public firm also can help give a private company instant credibility on Wall Street. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, 12 July 2021 Demand for at-home machines and instant brews rose, compensating somewhat for closed coffee shops. Will Horner, WSJ, 12 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of instant


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for instant


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin instant-, instans, from instant-, instans, adjective, instant, from Latin


Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin instant-, instans, from present participle of instare to stand upon, urge, from in- + stare to stand — more at stand

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Time Traveler for instant

Time Traveler

The first known use of instant was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Instant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for instant



English Language Learners Definition of instant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very short period of time



English Language Learners Definition of instant (Entry 2 of 2)

: becoming something very quickly
: happening or done without delay
of food : able to be made very quickly : partially prepared by the manufacturer so that final preparation is quick and easy


in·​stant | \ ˈin-stənt How to pronounce instant (audio) \

Kids Definition of instant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very short time : moment I'll be back in an instant.



Kids Definition of instant (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : happening or done right away The play was an instant success.
2 : partially prepared by the manufacturer to make final preparation easy instant pudding



Legal Definition of instant

: being under present consideration the questions presented in the instant case

More from Merriam-Webster on instant

Nglish: Translation of instant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instant for Arabic Speakers


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