mil·li·sec·ond | \ ˈmi-lə-ˌse-kənd , -kənt \

Definition of millisecond 

: one thousandth of a second

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Did You Know?

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

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Some might wonder why there is no manual or dual-clutch option, but don't be alarmed or complain; the ZF 'box is probably the best automatic gearbox available today and will change gears in less than 100 milliseconds. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "The Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti: A sports sedan for people who want to drive," 6 Apr. 2018 The shocks’ stiffness and damping can change every millisecond. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "2019 Ford Raptor adds adaptive shocks ready for 'jump mode'," 24 May 2018 Others were much broader, stretching out to a millisecond, and a few appeared to contain multiple overlapping peaks. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Whatever causes fast radio bursts is sitting in an intense magnetic field," 15 Jan. 2018 In contrast, the N.T.P. standard can synchronize computers no more accurately than a millisecond, or one thousandth of a second. John Markoff, New York Times, "Time Split to the Nanosecond Is Precisely What Wall Street Wants," 29 June 2018 Kemp sprinted home from first base, placing his hand on home plate a millisecond before Jonathan Lucroy's tag. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros sweep Athletics, extend winning streak to 8," 15 June 2018 Uchida hit the nerve-racking cascade a millisecond later. Mark Swed,, "Keeping Schumann sane: Mitsuko Uchida and the L.A. Phil deliver method over madness," 18 May 2018 The durations of each burst, which ranged from nine to 30 milliseconds, suggested the source is perhaps 10 kilometers across—the size of a typical neutron star. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Dead Stars Orbiting Black Holes May Explain Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts," 10 Jan. 2018 While electrical impulses that travel along neurons last only about a millisecond, blood, which fMRI measures as a proxy, arrives on the scene slightly after the fact, and dissipates slowly. Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, "The Neuroscience of Pain," 9 May 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'millisecond.' 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 millisecond

1909, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for millisecond

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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The first known use of millisecond was in 1909

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English Language Learners Definition of millisecond

: one thousandth of a second


mil·li·sec·ond | \ ˈmil-ə-ˌsek-ənd, -ənt \

Medical Definition of millisecond 

: one thousandth of a second abbreviation ms, msec

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