instant (n.)

late 14c., "moment in time, infinitely short space of time," from noun use of Old French instant "near, immediate, at hand; assiduous, urgent" (see instant (adj.)). Related: Instanted; instanting.

instant (adj.)

mid-15c., "now, present, of the moment, current," from Old French instant "near, imminent, immediate, at hand; urgent, assiduous" (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin instantem (nominative instans), in classical Latin "present, pressing, urgent," literally "standing near," present participle of instare "to urge, to stand near, be present (to urge one's case)," from in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

Sense of "immediate, done or occurring at once" is from 1590s. Of processed foods, by 1912; instant coffee is from 1915. Televised sports instant replay attested by 1965. Instant messaging attested by 1994.

The word was used 18c.-19c. in dating of correspondence, meaning "the current month," often abbreviated inst. Thus 16th inst. means "sixteenth of the current month" (compare proximo, ultimo).

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Definitions of instant from WordNet
instant (adj.)
occurring with no delay;
instant gratification
Synonyms: instantaneous
instant (adj.)
demanding attention; "regarded literary questions as exigent and momentous"- H.L.Mencken;
an instant need
Synonyms: clamant / crying / exigent / insistent
instant (adj.)
in or of the present month;
Synonyms: inst
instant (n.)
a very short time (as the time it takes the eye to blink or the heart to beat);
Synonyms: blink of an eye / flash / heartbeat / jiffy / split second / trice / twinkling / wink / New York minute
instant (n.)
a particular point in time;
Synonyms: moment / minute / second