mil·​li·​sec·​ond ˈmi-lə-ˌse-kənd How to pronounce millisecond (audio)
: one thousandth of a second

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A millisecond isn't long enough for the blink of an eye, but a few milliseconds may determine the winner of a swim race or a hundred-yard dash. With the ever-increasing speed of modern technology, even a millisecond has started to seem a little sluggish; computer operations are now measured in nanoseconds—that is, billionths of a second.

Examples of millisecond in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The implosion is thought to have been near instantaneous and occurred in less than 40 milliseconds, according to the Associated Press. Mary Whitfill Roeloffs, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 In less than a millisecond the vapor recondenses and the chamber cools and refills with ink, returning the nozzle to the resting state. Phillip W. Barth, IEEE Spectrum, 25 Mar. 2024 Every millisecond of light represented the work of the plant’s metabolism, which Sarkisyan and a team of other scientists had hooked up to genes from a glowing fungus. Zoë Schlanger, The Atlantic, 19 Mar. 2024 Typically this happens within about a meter, or around one millisecond. Luke Caldwell, Scientific American, 16 Jan. 2024 Compared with the participants assigned a set goal in the first experiment, the participants assigned increasingly more difficult goals in the second experiment had faster reaction times by an average of 45 milliseconds – about a 10% improvement. Matthew Robison, Discover Magazine, 2 Mar. 2024 The researchers report measured relaxation times for valley states in excess of 500 milliseconds, presenting promising coherence properties for future valley qubits. IEEE Spectrum, 30 Jan. 2024 His solution aligned computers to within tens of milliseconds. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 19 Jan. 2024 When each pixel during the scanning process was given 5 milliseconds to collect photons, the new de-noising algorithm reduced the root mean square error—a measure of its deviation from a perfect image—of reconstructed images by about eightfold. IEEE Spectrum, 1 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'millisecond.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1909, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of millisecond was in 1909

Dictionary Entries Near millisecond

Cite this Entry

“Millisecond.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


mil·​li·​sec·​ond ˈmil-ə-ˌsek-ənd How to pronounce millisecond (audio)
 also  -ənt
: one thousandth of a second

Medical Definition


mil·​li·​sec·​ond ˈmil-ə-ˌsek-ənd, -ənt How to pronounce millisecond (audio)
: one thousandth of a second
abbreviation ms, msec
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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