nano·​sec·​ond | \ ˈna-nə-ˌse-kənd How to pronounce nanosecond (audio) , -kənt \

Definition of nanosecond

1 : one billionth of a second
2 : a very brief moment

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The nonserious use of nanosecond is probably much more common than the proper technical use. In measurement terms such as nanosecond, nanogram, and nanometer, nano- means "billionth;" in other kinds of words, its meaning isn't quite so precise. In computers, the speed of reading and writing to random access memory (RAM) is measured in nanoseconds. By comparison, the speed of reading or writing to a hard drive or a CD-ROM player, or for information to travel over the Internet, is measured in milliseconds (thousandths of a second), which are a million times longer than nanoseconds.

Examples of nanosecond in a Sentence

It happens in less than a nanosecond. a nanosecond was about all that it took her to accept his marriage proposal
Recent Examples on the Web The role of FinOps (financial operations) is important in an on-premises or traditional environment, as well as in the cloud where automation can drive costs through the roof in a matter of a nanosecond. Jeffrey Ton, Forbes, 6 May 2021 And talk about intensity, like many other high achieving entrepreneurs, every nanosecond of his time aligns attention with intension. Sanford Stein, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2021 Amid the many circuitries of outrage, distraction, and algorithmic surveillance that now go by the name of online life, the temptation to log off and unplug for good grows greater by the nanosecond. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 3 Sep. 2021 The source of future endeavor Life-changing impressions such as the moon landing can occur in a nanosecond, helping to shape generational mindsets and behaviors. Marian Salzman, Forbes, 6 May 2021 Riders are flung to the apex of the 155-foot-high hill, twist, hold for a dramatic nanosecond and descend at a sharp 80-degree angle. Dewayne Bevil,, 2 May 2021 When the lipids come into contact with the naked strands of mRNA, electric charge pulls them together in a nanosecond. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2021 In a prehistoric nanosecond, the reign of the dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began. Cody Cassidy, Wired, 9 Apr. 2021 Yet a system where each state imposes its own tax, based on its own rules, on pixels that cross state lines in a nanosecond, seems designed for chaos and multiple taxation. Howard Gleckman, Forbes, 25 Feb. 2021

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

1958, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nanosecond

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for nanosecond

Time Traveler

The first known use of nanosecond was in 1958

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nanosecond.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for nanosecond



English Language Learners Definition of nanosecond

: one billionth of a second
: a very short time


nano·​sec·​ond | \ -ˌsek-ənd, -ənt How to pronounce nanosecond (audio) \

Medical Definition of nanosecond

: one billionth of a second abbreviation ns, nsec


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