moment (n.)

late 14c., "very brief portion of time, instant," in moment of time, from Old French moment (12c.) "moment, minute; importance, weight, value" and directly from Latin momentum "movement, motion; moving power; alteration, change;" also "short time, instant" (also source of Spanish, Italian momento), contraction of *movimentum, from movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").

Some (but not OED) explain the sense evolution of the Latin word by notion of a particle so small it would just "move" the pointer of a scale, which led to the transferred sense of "minute time division."

In careful use, a moment has duration, an instant does not. The sense of "notable importance, 'weight,' value, consequence" is attested in English from 1520s. Meaning "opportunity" (as in seize the moment) is from 1781.

In for the moment "temporarily, so far as the near future is concerned" (1883) it means "the present time." Phrase never a dull moment is attested by 1885 (Jerome K. Jerome, "On the Stage - and Off"). Phrase moment of truth first recorded 1932 in Hemingway's "Death in the Afternoon," from Spanish el momento de la verdad, the final sword-thrust in a bull-fight.

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Definitions of moment from WordNet

moment (n.)
a particular point in time;
the moment he arrived the party began
Synonyms: minute / second / instant
moment (n.)
an indefinitely short time;
wait just a moment
Synonyms: mo / minute / second / bit
moment (n.)
at this time;
she is studying at the moment
Synonyms: here and now / present moment
moment (n.)
having important effects or influence;
virtue is of more moment than security
Synonyms: consequence / import
moment (n.)
a turning force produced by an object acting at a distance (or a measure of that force);
moment (n.)
the n-th moment of a distribution is the expected value of the n-th power of the deviations from a fixed value;